Welcome Carla Olson Gade!


I have a love hate relationship with cameras. I dislike being in front of the lens, but I very much enjoy being behind it. I enjoy making new pictures look old and other creative processes. My cousin, a professional photographer, took my headshots for me last year. You can see the setting I put it in, an image of an antique cabinet card and then I embellished it at Pixlr, one of my favorite online photo editing tools. 

Below you’ll see a photo I took of antique children’s shoes that I own. The picture of the mounted figurehead is one that I took on a research trip to Mystic Seaport, CT for my newest release, Colonial Courtships. I took the photo in the corral of my neighbor in Maine’s farm while the horses were watching a herd of deer leave after their daily visit. You can see some of my other photographs online at http://500px.com/carlagade.




Photography is a favorite hobby that many generations in my family have enjoyed. And thus, we have tons of pictures; a visual record of the past. Recently some relatives and I were sifting through a bunch of old photos trying to place the who and the where. When my Mom’s cousin began asking me my take on when some of the photos were taken, based on the type of photography that was used, I was stymied. She’d read my debut novel, The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter, that features a female photographer, set in western Colorado in 1875. Since I had done so much research on 19th century photography methods for the book, I was suddenly being hailed as an expert on the topic. Go figure.

We all had a great time trying to solve the photographic mysteries, but much to my surprise I realized I had learned more than I thought from all of that research. I never imagined it would be useful in a practical way. We found a little picture of Grandpa Currier (yes, as in Currier & Ives – his cousins), but who’s grandpa was it. I deduced that the photo was a tintype from about the year of my story, 1875. It fit perfectly with the age of Grandpa Currier, being my great-grandmother’s grandfather. The tiny photo is called a “gem”, made with a multiplying camera that used several lenses in order to produce multiple photographs. Gems were divided up and mounted in jewelry, a small frame, or a stamped paper sleeve.

Photography was an important element in my novel and I relied heavy on historic photos to help me plot The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter. Shadow Catcher is what the Native Americans called photographers and the title is significant since the hero in the story in half-Navajo. The story’s heroine, Eliana Van Horn, is her father’s photography assistant. She dresses like a young man as they travel the untamed western slope of Colorado visually documenting the mining outfits for the U. S. Land Grant Office. Photographs taken of many of the thriving mining towns are all that exist today. Van Horn Photography later is commissioned to be the official photographer of a survey expedition to set the territory boundary lines at the four corners. The actual survey occurred in 1875 and similar ones were led which provided photographic references with which I could better envision my novel. The photographs below are some that I imagined the Van Horn’s took on the field using the gelatin dry plate silver bromide process so that negatives did not need to be developed immediately. To see more images that I used for inspiration and research for The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter please visit my Pinterest page, http://pinterest.com/carlaolsongade/the-shadow-catcher-s-daughter/.











Writers: Are photos helpful to you when plotting? All: Do you have any special family photographs? Please leave a comment to be eligible to win a copy of The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter. There will be two winners!

To learn more about Carla Olson Gade please visit her website
or drop by her blog http://writingtodistraction.blogspot.com.

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47 thoughts on “Welcome Carla Olson Gade!”

  1. you take such good pictures,,my son is a photographer for a local newspaper an he also is very good,I espically love the pictures of the old shoes,,I have several old pictures of children of whom I dont know ,found them at auctions etc but they are so cute in their antique attire,thanks for such a great post

  2. I love old photographs. I was just given my grandmother’s old photographs. She passed last year- six months shy of 100 years old. In her collection are many tin types. I love looking at the background of those pictures. It is a good way to see how they lived, their dress, their expressions. Campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  3. Your pictures are beautiful, Carla. I do have some special photographs, 2 in my office. One is a photo of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (and his framed signature!) and the other is a sepia tinted picture of my dad at my son’s age smiling and lounging in an armchair.

  4. I love your photos and the cover of your book.

    As for being a writer, I am a technical writer so photos of what I am writing about do come in handy when I a trying to explain something.

  5. I love the cover of your books. Being a writer I love Photos they do help me to focus.
    As far as special family photos yes I have some very dear to my heart and they are of my precious husband who passed away a year ago unexpectedly.

    Thanks for sharing

  6. I love pictures. I have pictures stuck everywhere, one of these days I am going to organize (lol). Can’t wait to read your “The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter” sounds awesome.

    Have a Great Day

  7. Hi Carla,
    It is nice to see you on the Petticoats & Pistols blog.
    I love old photos too. We have many old family pictures that I treasure and love to study. Love the cover of your book and the title. I look forward to reading it.

  8. I have a large collection of photographs from my mother. When she died they were precious to me and always will be. Many are from Europe and I cherish them all. Your book sounds wonderful.

  9. Photographs are meant to be saved for future generations. I enjoyed your post today. The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter looks compelling and special.

  10. I’m disabled and have almost no use of my hand. Picture online especially those of my family, mean so much to me.. Really just hexre for the contest though :}

  11. I am fascinated with your love of photography and your novel. Photos are meaningful and important. thanks for this great post.

  12. I, too, hate being in front of the camera. I love taking pictures and the very first picture I took with my first 35mm won a photo contest.
    I really like the cover of your book and shall be checking out your others.

  13. I have all kinds of photos of my family but my husband only has one picture of his Mother, Father and twin Brother. He has no pictures of his other Brother. I think this is very sad because our children will have nothing of his family to look at.

  14. Our favorite family photo is one we took several years ago at one of those booths where they have you in the vintage clothing. Loved the whole look and the way it came out!

    When I first saw the cover of your book, I just stared. It is very beautiful and I can imagine the cool breeze blowing through Eliana’s hair. Love it!

  15. Interesting article. I like looking through old photos. Being a twin, my mother had our photo taken every year on our birthday until we were 20. it is fun to see how we changed through the years. Of all of the photos taken of us, my mother has one that she could not tell which twin was which. We were 2 years old and had on snowsuits with hoods.
    Your book sounds really good.

  16. Oh I can not stand to have my photo taken… love to take pics though with my camera. I have a few photos of when I was younger that I love to look at… such great memories. I love the ones with my grandparents… I was so mad when I found out my uncle threw out a whole bunch of pics my grandmother had… how could someone do that… the least he could have done was asked if anyone else wanted them… there was this one beautiful photo of my grandmother when she was young that I would have truly loved to have had…
    Thank you for sharing your post with us today Carla. 😀

  17. I use to be the only one that took pictures in my family. I always call myself the invisible person because as a kid there were tons of my older sister but when I came around there wasn’t much picture taking and since I took all the pictures, I’m not in a lot of them lol. I have finally passed it on to my grown children to take the picture but of course they are all digital and no one seems to print anything out any more (sigh).

  18. Hi Carla! I really enjoyed your pictures. I don’t like being in front of a camera, and am terrible at taking pictures unless I have a take and point camera. I have lots of old pictures from both my mother’s and father’s families.

  19. Yay, I’m in! So many of you enjoy taking pictures. It is a very satisfying hobby, a wonderful means of preserving memories! Along with my character, Eliana, in The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter, I, too, am a shadow catcher’s daughter. That is, I am following my mother’s love for photography.

  20. Enjoyed your blog today. It’s fun to look back at one’s history through photographs. Now that I own an iPad I find myself taking more photos with it than with my camera.

  21. Great post and great pictures! Years ago I took a creative writing class in which the teacher had four pictures on the wall and all of them were so very different. We were to make up a story about one of them. Oddly enough, this helped me focus and now I find I tend to focus better when I have pictures present.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  22. I have done genealogy work on my mother’s side of the family and have many OLD photos of family members. I even have a photo of my Great Grandfather in his early years in his Civil War Uniform. (He fought for BOTH sides, if you can believe it and this photo has him in his Southern Uniform).
    I have wedding rings from Great Grandparents wedding in 1872. I used the wedding ring for my 1972 wedding. (Sorry, both ended in divorce!) Is that a message???

  23. Fascinating, Mary J, about your grandfather! Sounds like something that should go into a novel. About the ring, sorry to hear that…divorce is a painful thing. So glad that God gives us new beginnings in life, as He has for me.

  24. My dad is a photographer so photography has been part of my life ALL my life! Thousands of pictures are in the house of my youth and my siblings and I are always telling my parents to keep them organized so when they die, we don’t have to do it! Even videos! When my kids came along, I was always the one taking photos too and doing the scrapbooking. they are all adults now but love having all the photos of their growing up years! You take lovely photos. I bet your book is very interesting!

  25. Valri, sounds like my mom with all here millions of photos and videos. My boys LOVE watching them and going through the old photos even though they are all grown up now!

  26. I really enjoyed you post and loved the photos. I just have some older photos of my grandparents and things. That’s about it as far as old ones go.

  27. Julia, that is cool about your photos in your office! I recently visited the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow house in Portland, ME. You would have enjoyed it!! Do you know why he had a beard? His wife caught on fire and he put it out and his face was burned so he always wore a beard to cover the scars.

  28. Quilt Lady, nice to see you. Have you heard about Abingdon Fiction’s Quilts of Love series? My book is #9 and will release next August. It is called Pattern for Romance, and I took the photo of the whole cloth quilt that is on the book cover. http://quiltsoflovebooks.com. You might be interested in exploring my Pinterest page, too.

  29. I like photos and as a reader when I read about an era or event I like to google more about it (if it’s based on an actual event) to see what it’s like. Even if it’s not real I’ll see pictures and relate it to the story I’m reading. Fun stuff!

  30. Your pictures are great!
    I think the picture that is most important to me is one of my brother and I. We had a spur of the moment visit with him and enjoyed some crabs with Old Bay. The next time I saw him, he was in the hospital dying of cancer. Yesterday was the anniversary of his death, so it is fresh on my mind.
    I’ll cherish that picture forever. He was healthy and happy.

  31. Melinda, I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your husband. The grief is still quite fresh for you, isn’t it? My mother lost her husband, my dear step-dad, two years ago, and I recall how difficult those first months were for her. I’m glad that you have photographs that you can enjoy. My Mom put together a beautiful wall collage of some of the precious moments she spent with him and it hangs in a prominent place. I think just the act of putting it together was healing for her. She also went to a grief support group in her community, and one night they even shared photos of their loved ones. Blessings, and I hope the days grow a little brighter for you.

  32. Doreen, Oh, anniversaries of the passing of your loved ones are so hard. How difficult it must be to lose a brother. I’m glad you have that special picture of you and your brother on that visit together. You must cherish that so much, indeed. Thank you for sharing about him.

  33. I absolutely love old photos. I’ve been collecting as many family photos as I can and uploading them to my Ancestry.com site. I’m always so sad to find wonderful family portraits without names and no living heirs to identify them. I have one I obtained just this summer at a family reunion. However, I think I was given a copy of a copy of the original and have no way of knowing the method used.

    You’ve got my writer brain rolling through the slides of family pics for a new story! :o)

  34. Anne, Identifying photos can be quite tricky. Sometimes you can figure it out by means of deduction, clues in the photos, and such. Glad to hear you are sharing your photos at Ancestry. Love genealogy!

  35. Carla I love your pictures. I have old photos of my moms that she collected. I finally found pics of the 2 greatgrandmothers I was named after. After seeing them, one passed in1942 before I was born the other after. Now I know my namesakes thanks to pics. I also trace my genology. I am scot/Irish,swed/german/penna dutch /native american. How much more could a person be.

  36. I love the cover of THE SHADOW CATCHER’S DAUGHTER. Photography is a hobby I really enjoyed. When the babies came, I had my hands full and my husband took most of the pictures. I really missed it and look forward to getting back into it. Taking the time to set up shots like yours is something to do when you are exploring on your own or have time to yourself.

    Best of luck with the release of THE SHADOW CATCHER’S DAUGHTER.

  37. Love the photo you took of the antique children’s shoes! A special family photo we have is of my great-grandmother’s 100th birthday surrounded by her great-grandchildren. I was the youngest of her great-grandchildren at the time and so was the child placed on her lap! 🙂


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