750 miles of Boulder streets, 10 months, 30,000 photos + 1 book

Boulder walker + photographer Karen Jacot turns her pandemic obsession into art

By Paul Hagey Jun 25 2021

For the first six weeks of the pandemic lockdown, Boulder photographer Karen Jacot faced a malaise like many of us. She slept late, she couldn’t focus, she didn’t have a plan.

Then in late April 2020, she decided to get up early and roam Boulder’s streets, listening to audio books and snapping photos. That dreamlike beginning turned into an obsession — she began walking most mornings for hours at a time, taking dozens of photos of neighborhood homes, yards, views, businesses: the intimate details that expose Boulder’s intimate daily life.

Capturing the magic of the Boulder ordinary

Karen chronicled her morning walks on her Instagram stories and posts and we profiled Karen’s journeys and spectacular photography in July. As things tend to do, the effort began taking on its own momentum. She first committed to walking all of Boulder’s streets — all 305 miles. She ended up walking 750 miles, as she repeated many streets.

Then in the fall friends, started suggesting she turn her photographs into a book, which Karen thought crazy at first.

But she began pulling that thread and now, when I called her to discuss the project, she had turned her dining room and game room into a photo staging area with friends over helping choose from over 1,100 printed 4×6 photos and arrange the roughly 400 final photos she plans to include in the book.

Karen’s game room overtaken by photos

The book

“This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” Karen said.

After considering publishers, Karen decided to self-publish. The book will be full-color, 300 pages and feature approximately 400 photos, a fraction of the roughly 30,000 she took over the pandemic year with her full-frame Nikon D750 (using two telephoto lenses 24-70mm 2.8 and 70-200mm 2.8). Karen is organizing photos based on their esthetic mix rather than by geography or date.

Karen Jacot. Credit: Riki Jones

As the title of BLDRfly’s first feature on Karen highlighted — “Capturing the Magic of the Boulder Ordinary” — Karen’s photos, her sharp eye and good photo sense, and the coming book expose and capture Boulder at its most intimate and lived.

Boulder’s esthetic diversity and a striking balance between the quirky and the mundane stood out to Karen from her year of walking its streets. “I loved how much random art there is throughout the city,” she said. Like a line of bowling balls framing a house in front instead of bricks or wish trees, random tree sculptures and more.

Often, Boulder appears as an adventure and tech mecca — which are true — but those reflections, often featuring a flatiron shot, miss the street-level lived experience that we feel running daily errands and on evening family walks. And, because Boulder has its fair share of creatives, the photographs showcase the Boulder spirit in multidirectional, focused detail, from its wild yard art, sharp architectural design, landscaping, and, often, all three at once.

Karen is still deciding on how many copies to print, 500 or 1,000, and will launch a Kickstarter campaign for the project, likely before the end of June, when she’ll know more about the print run to order. I bet her that she ends up selling way more than 1,000. We’ll share her Kickstarter when it drops.

Paul Hagey

Paul Hagey is BLDRfly’s founder and editor. When not wrangling video, audio and words in the name of story, he’s riding his mountain bike, trail running and hanging with his awesome wife Jen and their young daughter. paul@bldrfly.com