A photographer’s perspective on creativity, being present and finding beauty.
The often quiet streets of St. Croix Falls are brimming with artists. Musicians, sculptors, potters, painters. Go knocking on strangers’ doors, and you’ll soon find friends, artfully and passionately living out their lives in this quaint river town.
On one such street lives Karrah Kobus—an artist in every sense of the word. Professionally, she’s a photographer without a niche (a rarity nowadays) with a body of work that is wholly distinct in its approach to beauty and the ever-illusive “authenticity” that the industry is chasing. Yet, she’s also a writer, a visionary, a dreamer—and now, a studio owner—opening her home and dreamscape as a rental for other creatives.
“Everybody needs a space to unleash their chaos,” Kobus says. “And I definitely wanted to share that with people now that it was something that I had the privilege and the ability in life to create.”
Karrah’s Place is the manifestation of Kobus’ literal dreams. It’s where she lives, alongside her husband, Raleigh, and daughter, Seni; it’s where she works, photographing clients throughout her home, in her basement studio space and 2-acre property; it’s the place where she (a self-described “homebody”) thrives—a not-so-blank slate on which she crafts innumerable worlds.
“As an artist taking pictures for other people, what is important for me is to understand how I see the world. To live my own life, fill up my own cup—if you want to use that phrase—and experience the world, and pay attention to the little things and how they make me feel,” Kobus says. “And then, when I have a client who hires me … a lot of it is just observing them and using my life experience—the things in my world that I see and that I have strong feelings connected to—to see that in them.”
Kobus found her way to photography a decade ago as a college student, when she came across a self-portrait by Flickr-famous photographer Rosie Hardy. “She was using photography as this art form, and I was like, ‘This is it,’” Kobus says. The next morning she skipped class to spend the day taking self-portraits, and she never looked back.
Over the past decade, Kobus has transitioned from telling her own story to those of the people around her. Whether she’s photographing a musician, a wedding, a family or a high school senior, she brings all that she is to capture all that they are. “I say right now that my niche is the human experience,” Kobus says. “As long as it’s somebody who feels like they connect with what I’m doing, then I can connect with what they’re doing. And then we can make something that feels really good for everyone.”
In her life and art, Kobus embraces beauty as something that is always present and never perfect, describing her style as timeless, sophisticated and observational. “I love those real moments between people—observing and finding those real little moments within the portrait session, creating the space for them to unfold. And I like the playful stuff. I love laughs and giggles. I’ve always loved that,” Kobus says.
And perhaps no image is a truer representation of Kobus’ definition of beauty than one she’s jokingly titled Chaotic Cake. The photograph was taken at a wedding in the aftermath of the cake cutting. Each guest had sliced their own pieces from the cake, leaving it in shambles. “That was beauty,” Kobus says. “That picture, that was just like the purest sign of a fun party, a fulfilling wedding reception, was just this cake—this destroyed cake.”
Karrah’s Place in St. Croix Falls is available by hourly rental for creative photo projects. The full home is set amidst 2 acres of woodland and features midcentury architecture with abundant natural light, with minimal furnishings curated by Kobus. The 1300-square-foot studio space includes a steel wall, rolling wall and glass garage door, with a broad range of studio equipment included with booking.