BOOK BEAT Naples Sun Times May 30-June 6, 2007
by Philip K. Jason
When I asked Karen T. Bartlett which came first, the writing or the photography, she told me that while writing was the skill by she was first able to make a living, photography was her first creative passion. She began doing writing and editing work soon after her graduation from the University of Georgia, but she only slowly came to realize that her love of photography could turn into a career. Largely self-taught in both areas, Bartlett is probably best-known to Neapolitans as a contributing editor, columnist, and photographer for “Gulfshore Life.” She is also the author-photographer responsible for the new edition of “Naples, Florida: A Photographic Portrait.”
This 2006 publication from Twin Lights Publishers is not to be confused with the 2000 book with the same name. Bartlett had nothing to do with that. The new or second edition by Bartlett is one of its publisher’s best sellers.
Before turning to a career as a freelance writer and photographer, Bartlett had founded and served as president of the Bartlett Group, a highly successful Atlanta-based public relations firm. The Bartlett Group handled marketing programs for a major planned community, hotels, resorts, timeshare properties, and many other kinds of businesses. In 1988, “PR Week” recognized the firm in the top 7 among more than 250 Atlanta agencies.
In 1989, Bartlett moved her company to Naples and began working with many major Southwest Florida clients, including Robb and Stuckey and London Bay Homes. She created and headed up the first Home & Condo Dream Team for the highly successful annual Dream Home. She directed the initial publicity campaigns for both Miles Collier’s Collier Automotive Museum and Frances Pew Hayes’ Teddy Bear Museum, and she helped raise millions of dollars for worthy non-profit organizations, both directly and through corporate social responsibility programs.
After two decades in the public relations business, Bartlett decided to redirect her career interests to travel writing, editing, and photography. Before taking on her current assignment with “Gulfshore Life,” she did similar work for “N, The Magazine of Naples.” She also publishes travel articles, photographs, or both in many other print and online publications. Available for commercial assignment photography, Bartlett provides a sample of her vast portfolio on her website: karentbartlett.com.
Bartlett’s photographs are a major feature of “The Sarasota, Sanibel Island and Naples Book,” and she contributed the section on romance and luxury destinations to “The Best Florida Getaways.” Forthcoming in 2008 are two new titles with text and photography by Bartlett: “Islands of the Southeast Coast: Amelia, Hilton Head, and Georgia’s Golden Isles” (from Twin Lights) and “Spaaaaaaah Florida: A Guide to Florida Spas” (from University Press of Florida). The Twin Lights editors became so impressed with Bartlett’s writing, which they discovered almost by accident when she began revising captions that had originally been written by someone else for the Naples book, that they asked her to do the writing for several of their other books.
Karen T. Bartlett is a high-energy person, always in motion, and thus not cut out for studio work or the multi-hour waiting-in-place of the wildlife photographer. She needs to be “out there,” and she seeks to capture the emotion of the moment – to be, in a sense, part of the scene that she is shooting (though never as a subject). As a travel photographer, she says, you often only get once chance – one shot – at the nun disappearing into the cathedral or the expression on the snake-charmer’s face. You have to be alert and ready to pounce.
Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club.