Since bidding farewell to her high-pressure life as a Beverly Hills wedding and portrait photographer to explore the country in a Sprinter van, Keren Lynn has been giving back everyday. She is sharing her photography and goodwill with those whose paths she crosses.
Discovering Her Gift of Giving
A combination of pushes and pulls motivated Lynn to make this dramatic lifestyle change:
1. She craved less clutter, less chaos, fewer possessions and crowds—and more nature, freedom and time to live life. “I realized the life I was living was not consistent with who I am,” she explains.
2. After a lengthy career of shooting children’s portraits, weddings, events and bar/bat mitzvahs, Lynn closed up shop to be a full-time mom. She continued her pro bono work, primarily for families at the specialized schools her son attended. When she returned full-time, she realized the experiences she had gone through with her son had changed her.
She recalls: “My mission became helping to empower and inspire people who had endured a life-changing event or loss to rediscover themselves through therapeutic photo sessions I called phototherapy. I knew I had a gift: helping people and giving freely.”
3. Serious back problems ultimately meant giving up photography. No more daily shooting with her Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Canon EF 70–200mm f/2.8L lens, and no more carrying gear. “I let it all go and started over,” says Lynn. “Switching to the Fujifilm X-T2 helped me get back to doing what I love.”
Living Her Dream
Lynn’s path was clear. She had a genuine desire to bring happiness to people but little time to do what she loved. “I had to run a business I didn’t want to be running and keep up with my social media accounts. What I wanted was to give organizations better images for fundraising, help new phototherapy clients and bring joy to others. So I left social media and exited the ‘rush-hour freeway’ to wander the side roads at my own pace,” says Lynn.
Lynn gave away everything that didn’t fit in her van. “I literally jumped right in,” she says. “I earn enough money with photo sales and an online store. And I don’t know what to anticipate, but I prefer life this way! Less predictable, less pressure, more rewarding.”
On the road, she has intriguing adventures and finds endless ways to brighten the lives of others. Recently, she met Ashley and her husband, Ric, who own Fiberton Acres in San Miguel, California. They raise sheep and other animals, and Ashley spins the fibers into yarn. Having bonded, Ashley asked her to join them in creating some joy.
“Right up my alley! Off we went to have a tea party by the Amtrak train tracks to wave at passengers as the train passed, bringing smiles to strangers’ faces. I surprised Ashley with photographs of our day to help promote her business. And I left with two dozen fresh eggs, a crocheted gift and new friends.”
Meeting New People
On another trip, she met Marble Mike, who gave her a marble history lesson and tour. He told her the American Toy Marble Museum is in Ohio but his own collection fills his attic and garage. “Did you know marble sets may be worth more than $10,000? Neither did I! Passionate people make me happy!” says Lynn.
One morning, at a Denny’s restaurant, she and her server, Miguel, got to chatting about the unusually cold winter Central California was having.
They wound up discussing people in need. They agreed that if we could be grateful for what we have, rather than what we don’t have compared to others, it would be easier to be happy and helpful. “I told Miguel it restores my faith in humanity to meet people like him who believe in helping others one at a time,” explains Lynn.
Fulfilling a Dream
Years before hitting the road in her Sprinter RV, Lynn had visited Cambodia. Upset that children she met had never seen photos of themselves, she returned to South East Asia last November/December with her younger son.
“With support from Fujifilm North America—who gave me Instax film and an Instax Share SP-2 mini printer—we headed to rural villages in Laos and Cambodia,” says Lynn.
“I took photos on my Apple iPhone 6s Plus, used the Instax Share app, connected wirelessly to the printer and instantly printed out a photo for each child. We couldn’t work fast enough, as the kids kept running off to bring more siblings and friends. It was heartwarming to spend time with children who are grateful for what they are given and compassionate and kind to each other.”
Open Road Calling Your Name?
Have you ever dreamed of leaving the rat race and hitting the open road? Keren Lynn suggests you start by asking yourself these questions: What makes you happy? What do you need versus want? What do you value? How do you measure success? Can you live in a van and drive across the country on your own? What are your obstacles and fears, and how can you resolve them? Can you swim against the current to follow your dreams?
“I’m grateful I followed my heart. I can drive anywhere, meet anyone, share, give or trade and move on. It’s creating a ripple effect, as if I’m passing the baton in a ‘kindness marathon.’”
For more of Keren Lynn’s photos, go to kerenlynn.com.