Courtesy of Karen Jacot

‘Rabbits in Driveway’ Shows Boulder In A New Light

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Since first arriving in Boulder in 1996, Karen Jacot has felt a sense of place.

 

“This feels like home to me. This feels like the place that I belong,” she says.

 

Jacot’s love of the city is so strong, in fact, that she spent 10 months walking every one of Boulder’s 955 streets during the pandemic. Her findings on those walks have been captured in her new book, “Rabbits in Driveway: A Different Boulder Photo Book,” a collection of 400 images highlighting Boulder’s various neighborhoods through Jacot’s unique lens. Through this work, she hopes to share with viewers her sense of Boulder as a place.

 

“I always try to capture the feeling of whatever I’m doing or wherever I am,” Jacot says.

 

Courtesy of Karen Jacot

 

Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Jacot carried a camera nearly everywhere she went, taking lots of pictures, even creating her own mock-magazine spreads. After graduating from Texas A&M, she moved to the Front Range and attended the Denver Publishing Institute at the University of Denver, subsequently working as a book editor for many years. It wasn’t until after Jacot and her husband moved to Boston that she began to dig into the technical side of photography. While her husband pursued graduate studies, Jacot worked in publishing by day and took classes from the New England School of Photography by night.

 

While cultivating her artistic side in Boston, Jacot couldn’t stop talking about returning to Boulder.

 

“My husband’s cousin joked that I would introduce myself to people and say, ‘Hi, I’m Karen, I’d rather live in Boulder,’ which wasn’t that far off from the truth,” she says.

 

She especially missed Boulder’s easy access to the outdoors.

 

“A lot of people were like, ‘Why are you so obsessed with moving back to Boulder?’ But I feel like, if you don’t feel that connection to a place, then you don’t understand how I feel that pull,” she says.

 

After living in a number of cities around the U.S., the couple moved back to Boulder with their son in 2015, and Jacot is happy to report that she’s here to stay.

 

“When we moved back, [my husband] still had recruiters calling him,” she says. “I was like, ‘You can work wherever you want to work. I’m gonna live in Boulder. If you want to live someplace else and commute, just come to Boulder whenever you can; that’s fine, but I’m not leaving Boulder again.’”

 

Thankfully, Jacot’s husband likes Boulder too.

 

Courtesy of Karen Jacot

 

In April 2020, about one month after shelter-in-place rules went into effect, Jacot started feeling cooped up in her house. She loves to read and it dawned on her that she could listen to audiobooks while walking around her neighborhood. On her first couple of walks, Jacot didn’t bring a camera along. But then she started noticing interesting things she hadn’t seen before, like found-object sculptures and quirky mailboxes.

 

“I saw all sorts of things on streets I had been on, but never noticed because I’m driving,” she recalls. “When I was walking [those same streets], I’m like, ‘Wow, there’s all this cool stuff.’”

 

At first, Jacot’s walks originated from her house. But, soon, she wanted to go farther and explore new neighborhoods, so she started driving to different spots around Boulder. Eventually, she discovered CityStrides, a website designed primarily for runners to track which streets they’ve run, with a goal of hitting every street in their city.

 

“I didn’t set out planning to walk all the streets. I was just walking,” Jacot says.

 

After connecting to CityStrides from the Strava app on her phone, she realized she had already covered 24 percent of Boulder’s streets. Her son then encouraged her to walk every street in Boulder, so she made that a new goal. On the CityStrides website, each street is made up of a number of “nodes,” and users must travel through every node in order to mark a street as completed.

 

“I felt like Pac-Man gobbling up the dots,” she says with a laugh.

 

Courtesy of Karen Jacot

 

An avid hiker who frequently posted her outdoor and landscape photography on Instagram, Jacot started bringing her camera along on her walks, but only to share a glimpse of her jaunts with her online friends. She felt hesitant about posting what she calls her “neighborhood photos” on her Instagram page, because she felt it didn’t mesh with her landscape photography. Instead, she shared her neighborhood photos via her Instagram Stories, so that she could share several at a time without “disrupting” her followers’ feeds. After receiving an enthusiastic response, the photographer started posting her neighborhood photos on her Instagram page.

 

She then fell into a routine of sorts, returning home from her walks, uploading the day’s photos to her computer and choosing which to share over breakfast.

 

“It was anywhere from 20-40 photos from that day’s walk, and then I would post the map of my walk at the end,” she recalls. “At first, I wasn’t doing that, and people were like, ‘Where was this?’ So I was like, ‘I’ll just share my map so you guys can tell what neighborhood I was in.’ And people responded very well.”

 

The comments continued to pour in, and followers began to suggest that they would buy a book of Jacot’s distinctive images. Initially, she brushed off the idea, but the more she thought about it, she realized that creating a book fell within her wheelhouse.

 

“I was in publishing for a long time, so I know how books are made, and I have a little insider information,” she says. “So I felt pretty comfortable with the book-making process.”

 

Courtesy of Karen Jacot

 

Harkening back to the DIY mentality of her youth, Jacot taught herself how to use Adobe InDesign so she could design and format the books’ pages on her own. She also spent time researching how to raise money for printing costs using Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform for creative projects. But perhaps the most challenging aspect of the process was selecting which photos would make the final cut. After going through all of her neighborhood photos and choosing the ones she thought would fare well in a book, she still had 1,100 images that needed to be narrowed down.

 

“I couldn’t figure out a way on the computer to deal with all of that data, that many photos,” she says. “So I made 4-by-6 proof prints of those 1,100, and I just laid them out in my house. I took over two rooms and laid them all out and started going through and picking up ones that I wanted to include.”

 

Still feeling overwhelmed, she called in reinforcement from her friend Kari, who had previously accompanied her on some of her walks.

 

“She was like, ‘Okay, you need to categorize these,’” Jacot recalls. “So we sorted them: Here are all the photos of mailboxes. Here are all the photos of little free libraries. Here are all the photos that have houses in it. We had a lot of cat photos.”

 

Jacot, who owns two siamese cats herself, cites felines as a highlight of her neighborhood walks.

 

“I loved meeting cats. There were so many cats on my walks. I’m a cat person,” she says. “At one point I counted — and now it’s more — but at one point I had met 87 different cats.”

 

And in regards to the rabbits? The title of the book was derived from a sign in someone’s yard, which is featured on the back cover.

 

“I thought it was hilarious that they have a sign that says ‘Caution: Rabbits in Driveway’ because there are rabbits everywhere,” Jacot says, smiling.

 

Courtesy of Karen Jacot

 

The resulting book contains 400 images of “cool lawn art, funny signs, neighborhood cats, interesting houses and a lot more pink flamingos than I ever expected,” she explains on her Kickstarter page. Jacot ended up raising $23,815 on the crowdfunding platform, which covered the printing costs for about 500 copies of the book. But because it cost twice as much to print five times as many books, the final print run of “Rabbits in Driveway” totaled 2,500 books.

 

Jacot initially focused on selling to her personal and online supporters, but then she started thinking bigger.

 

“Once it was coming together in my head, I was like, this is not just something that somebody who knows me will buy because they know me. People who like Boulder will like this book,” she says.

 

When many people envision Boulder, they’re likely picturing the Flatirons or the mountains. But “Rabbits in Driveway” offers a different take on the city.

 

“It focuses not on the larger landscapes, but on the personal side of these 25 square miles,” she writes on Kickstarter. “It is a more intimate look at all things big and small that will make you see Boulder differently.”

 

“Rabbits in Driveway” is available for purchase at Boulder Book Store, Peppercorn, Jacque Michelle and on Karen Jacot’s website.

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