The woman behind the camera

Even if you do not know who Karrie Rathbone is, you are most likely familiar with her work. Rathbone’s photography frequently fills the Free Press as well as social media pages throughout Marion County. While much of her photos are of USD 410 students, she has also taken many of other schools especially Marion and Canton-Galva.

Rathbone actually has a full time job as Professor of Biology at McPherson College not to mention she is a wife to Mark and mom to college student Brodie and high school junior Tristan. She also has a small “farm” with a huge garden and chickens.

But her true passion that she spends much time, energy and talent on is photography.

Her love for photography started in high school.

“I got a Kodak 35mm point and shoot that I loved taking pictures on the farm where I grew up. When I got to college I saved up and got a Nikon D500 and took it on field biology trips to San Salvador where I enjoyed shooting wildlife and native plant species. I shot film until my oldest son was getting into junior high school and I made the jump to experimenting with digital. Learning to edit the digital image is a real learning curve,” said Rathbone.

Once her oldest son got into high school, Rathbone began taking pictures at his events such as sports, plays and more. Then she started taking pictures of his friends and peers. Soon she was capturing everyone involved and sharing all of the pictures with everyone so they could have their memories captured as well.

Hillsboro Middle High School Athletic Director and father of five Robert Rempel said, “Karrie has done an amazing job taking pictures of our high school activities. I think it started by covering her kids and it has increased to taking pictures of everything she can. I have heard a lot of people say how nice it has been to sit back and watch a game and know that there will still be some pictures that they can have after the game.”

And she doesn’t just get the most popular events or the “star” participants but works hard to get everyone.

“I’ve always appreciated how Karrie tries to capture every athlete or singer in her photos. That is such a gift to the parents and it speaks volumes about how important everyone is on a team or in a choir. Priceless memories!” said Tracy Boldt whose sons play sports and participate in choir and musicals.

“I feel every kid deserves the recognition of their hard work and efforts. Hopefully I get that one shot that they thought was special. We all have some way in which we give back to our community— I feel this is a small way to give back to all the great coaches, teachers and families in our community,” said Rathbone.

And she knows a lot about giving back to the community. Rathbone often goes to events that her sons aren’t in. She stays for the entire event, shoots it and stays up for hours editing the pictures. Rathbone then shares the images with anyone who wants them, often tagging those in the pictures so they can be sure to see them. She donates quality shots to the Free Press and other papers.

In addition to school events, Rathbone has done senior photos, engagements shoots, wedding pictures and more. Last year she did porch photos for numerous families at the beginning of the pandemic. And since she is a scientist at heart, Rathbone also enjoys taking nature photos, especially storms.

“I love storm chasing just due to its sheer intensity… I have a tendency to just enjoy photographing each season for what it brings,” said Rathbone.

But what is her favorite subject to capture?

“Sports—capturing the emotion and the intense physicality. I love watching a play or move unfold and documenting the story. Finding the details and getting the personalities to shine through is important,” said Rathbone. “I love the pursuit and capture of an image and telling a story. I usually have something in mind that I want to capture and then devise a strategy for getting the right angle….and then there are those totally unexpected shots which are even more fun. There is always something new to learn in photography, new compositions, subjects, angles and ideas. I also enjoy the creativity in producing poster composites for sports teams/individuals.”

And it’s the sports pictures that her fans seem to really appreciate.

USD 410 Superintendent Max Heinrichs said, “Karrie Rathbone is a positive force in our community! Her photos capture countless treasures and memories for our students, their families, and our community.”

“Karrie captures the moments I wish I could bottle up and save for my golden years. In our case, it’s the intense focus on a face and sand flying. But also ponytails and cheering from the sidelines and crazy trumpet antics. I count myself lucky to have my own personal documentist,” said Jamie Driggers, a mom.

And it isn’t just the parents who benefit from Rathbone’s gift. Coaches are thankful for her talent and time as well.

As Assistant Wrestling Coach Tagen Lambotte said, “Karrie is awesome! Everyone knows she takes amazing pictures for all of the Hillsboro athletes, but as a coach they are much more valuable than just a cool action shot or a memory for the athletes. They are a tool for moving forward and getting better! Using a video source such as Hudl is valuable, but I have found the still frame shots provided by Karrie in all different angles are just as valuable. Following every wrestling tournament I look forward to seeing her pictures on Sunday morning so I can analyze our guys positioning and posture in certain scenarios. They are a huge tool that [head coach] Scott O’Hare and I can use to move forward and structure technique around.

HHS Football Coach Demetrius Cox agreed.

” ‘There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment. This kind of photography is realism. But realism is not enough – there has to be vision, and the two together can make a good photograph.’-Robert Frank

This quote speaks directly to the passion and loves Mrs. Rathbone shares when she is taking photos of our amazing student-athletes and sporting events. Her drive to capture every moment at every second is a joy to watch. On behalf of the Hillsboro Football Team, we are truly thankful for the time Mrs. Rathbone put in throughout the season. Seeing Mrs. Rathbone on the sideline on Friday nights doing what she does best, brings joy to our players, coaches, and fans. Thank you, Mrs. Rathbone, for your passion and dedication which is driven by her faith, love, care, and willingness to give,” Demetrius Cox.

State Champion Basketball Coach Darrel Knoll said, “I love the fact that Karrie is in it for the students! She has a truly giving attitude that cheers for and celebrates everyone! Her pictures are incredible, creative, and invaluable to the students, school, and community! I have great memories immortalized by her ability to capture the moment, and by the way, the team collages are just simply tremendous.”

The fact that her pictures are so good helps as well. She often captures the shots that fans didn’t even see while watching the events.

“In LIFE, we must journal the journey and capture the moments… for one day, they will remember when! Each picture she takes tells a story. The beauty is not the person or the object, rather her passion that shines through from every angle,” said Ciara Cox, a mom.

Rathbone has provided a gift for this time of COVID-19 when attendance to events has been limited as well as for the future as students grow up and move on in life. And she does it all for free.

“When I think of Karrie and her photography I’m always struck by her generosity. She selflessly gives of her time and talents to all of us. Her gift of photography is a GIFT to all of us. She is capturing memories and moments that happen quickly which allows for players, families and coaches to go back and relive those moments again and again. She is a treasure,” said Sara Wichert, a mom