BELFAST — Looking back on a 50-year career in photography, Belfast’s Lynn Karlin remembers to focus on what is next.

“I’m always working on projects,” Karlin said. “You never know what’s next.”

Karlin has developed a knack for successful selection of “what’s next” in a career that began, formally, in 1970. The passion for her craft emerged years earlier.

Born and raised in New York, Karlin received her first camera, a Yashica-Mat Twin Lens reflex, as a teenager.

“Before I could drive, my mother would take me around in the car and I’d take pictures,” Karlin said. “I’d take pictures of the bridges and the railroad tracks. I knew that was my calling.”

As luck would have it, Karlin’s high school, Bayside High School in Queens, had an outstanding photography and art department. There, she was able to explore and refine her creative boundaries.

“I was studying photography and art in high school,” Karlin said. “I took a painting class, but I wasn’t going to be a painter. With photography, I took to it right away. It was a good way for me to express my creativity.”

Karlin honed her skills at the prestigious Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Graduating in 1970, she faced the stereotypical life of the starving artist.

“I lived in New York City,” said Karlin of her life after college. “I was a waitress at night. During the day I took my portfolio around to magazines and book companies.”

In 1975 her diligence paid off. Karlin joined Women’s Wear Daily as a staff photographer — the first female staff photographer ever hired by the publication. She was immediately put through her professional paces at the trendy fashion magazine.

“I learned to shoot everything,” Karlin said, “from fashion shows to celebrity portraits. I traveled a lot and got a great amount of experience.”

Karlin developed an eye for interiors and interior design and joined House Beautiful and Country Living magazines as staff photographer. Still living in New York, the lure of a more rural life beckoned.

“I always wanted to live in the country,” Karlin said. “So, I left my promising career and moved to Maine.”

Karlin moved to a farm in Harborside in 1983. The farm was located next to a property owned by noted rural homesteaders Helen and Scott Nearing.

Karlin and then-husband Stanley Joseph farmed the land and collaborated on a book, “Maine Farm, A Year of Country Life,” while continuing to work for magazines on a freelance basis.

“I still had the work, “Karlin explained, “but I didn’t have to live in New York. It was a win/win.”

After leaving New York, Karlin began photographing gardens. Living on a farm, her fascination with local agriculture and the entire farm-to-table culture grew. In her spare time, she learned to fly in Belfast and that hobby led her to move here in 1991.

Once in Belfast she continued work for magazines while developing an interest in still life photography. That interest, combined with her farming experience and reverence for the farm-to-table culture produced a bountiful harvest.

Karlin decided to honor the local harvest by putting it on a pedestal, literally. She photographed local produce placed simply upon a pedestal or fence post. Set in dark background, the shape and color of the produce is elegantly revealed.

“The Pedestal Series” has given Karlin international acclaim. She has also released a similar series, “The Tray Series,” for which she photographed produce on a flat tray with man-made tools. Both series are simple, elegant, and revealing. Photos from both series appear on Super Foods calendars produced by Amber Lotus.

Karlin’s work has won dozens of awards and has been shown all over the world. She still contributes to magazines, collaborates on books, and does some contract work. Her focus on the still life remains.

A photo from Lynn Karlin’s Fine Art series, “Autumn Still Life.”

Pivoting from produce, Karlin’s latest portrait series explores ordinary people in extraordinary ways. Still Lives: Stories in Profile are simple photographs of people’s profiles. The photos are striking in simplicity, but thought-provoking.

“Photographing people in profile changes your perspective,” Karlin said. “It’s like getting to know them all over again.”

Always thinking of what is next, Karlin gains energy from the local community of artists.

Squash blossoms are part of Lynn Karlin’s Tray Series. Photo courtesy of Lynn Karlin.

There are so many talented artists and writers in this area,” she said. “A lot of artists have come here. There are so many amazing people, and galleries. I almost feel like I’m living in New York City, but it’s so much better.”