The gift that keeps Giving. / by Ivor Karabatkovic

"Where do you see yourself in 15 years?"

I was blindsided by that question at a lunch recently. No warning at all.

"That's a tough question. I can tell you where I want my work to be" I told my friend. "I want to give an artist an image that will be shown at their funeral." What a weird thing to think about.

2015 kicked.my.butt. Straight up. Like, five rounds in the Octagon. Life was a seasoned MMA fighter and I was still scrawny, hobbling me.

I've been thinking about my archives a lot recently. I found myself digging through boxes to find the two years out of my archives that I hold near to my heart- the end of my time in Cleveland and the first two years in Nashville. 2011-2013 to be exact. The uncertainty of that time is a familiar thing to me today. I photographed incredible events with tenacity and approached each shoot as if it were my last. There's something nostalgic and refreshing about revisiting old work. Good news- I found the hard drive!

Create something timeless...

Honestly, that's something I've always tried to be intentional about. I always want my work to tell, not sell a story. Even in the midst of the frantic life of an entertainer, in the fabrication and vanity of the industry, an artist on stage is still human. You can filter and coach an artist to fit any image, but their gift is to perform and move others through music. You can rehearse a number a million times. You'll never fabricate a God-given gift. That's the moment I'm after.

The Edge of U2 - performing on the 360 tour in Pittsburgh, PA.

Ah, speaking of gifts...

Photography felt more like a curse than a gift in 2015. But in all honesty, this hobby turned passion has opened so many doors and shut so many more and it has gotten me to where I am today. Many of the stressors of 2015 were external and had nothing to do with photography. But I know I've got stories to tell and photos to share with the world, and that is an assignment only I can accomplish and I treasure it. I'll never take it for granted.


Have you ever received a word of encouragement at exactly the right time? It came in the form of a simple text message this morning. "I love [your photography]! What a gift!"

What. A. Gift.

I'll end with a quote I stumbled across today. I hope it sums up the gratitude I'm taking with me into 2016:

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.
— Erma Bombeck

Blessings to you all this holiday season!

Ivor