Katherine Kahrs has an eye for movement and grace. Ballet and modern dance have been her specialty for many years. In fact, when she discovered dance as a subject for photography 20 years ago, she studied it, both in theory and in practice.
"I wanted a feeling of time, that's why I chose to have a sequence," she said, explaining how she got the idea for "Song for a Far Country," which won third place in the Creative Vision category. From a 35 mm film strip she selected four frames and put them together to make one whole dance.
The dance was choreographed by Dutch choreographer Lucas Hoving and was performed in San Francisco a few years ago.
"The dance is about leaving your home country. It's about seeking," said Kahrs. "I always thought that the man with the lamp was looking for his land."
Kahrs, who does all her own black-and-white darkroom work, applied a special printing technique called "solarization" at the end of her dance sequence. "I did that to have a conclusion for the ballet," she said.
Kahrs has a master's degree in studio art from U.C. Berkeley and studied photography at Foothill College. A painter herself, she also taught drawing and painting at the Palo Alto Art Club (now the Pacific Art Center) and at U.C. Santa Cruz.
But her main interest remains photography. "It is a lot quicker than drawing and painting," she said. "Photography is about light. It's very thrilling to find the right light."
Kahrs says that dance is very different from other photography subjects because the light changes a lot. "It is very challenging because you have to be in the rhythm with the dance and take the picture at the peak of the movement," she said.
Kahrs won second place in the Weekly's photo contest two years ago in the Color category, with a landscape photograph. "I like a beautiful landscape," she said "but I don't have much time now. It takes inspiration."
Kahrs has lived in the Palo Alto area since graduating from college, except for four years she spent in Europe. "For me there are beautiful things everywhere. I will use what's around me."