The theme for this year’s Covered Bridge Festival is “Through the Lens” – a phrase that could also be used to describe the passion of Winterset resident Carol Bassett.

Carol Bassett

A “shutterbug” since the age of 12, Bassett received her first camera, a Kodak pocket Instamatic 110, as a Christmas present in 1972. A small thin point and shoot camera with square flashcubes. 

“I used that camera for years, taking shots of everything and anything, especially people. I was so annoyingly obsessed with taking photos that some individuals would actually groan when they saw me walk into a room with my camera”, she explained. 

During her senior year of high school Bassett served as a photographer for the Boomerang, the Winterset High School yearbook. Graduating in 1977, her parents, Ken and Donna Bassett, gave her a Minolta SLR 35mm camera. This camera came with interchangeable lenses, allowing broader photo capabilities.

With the onset of digital cameras, in 2006 Bassett became the recipient of three of her father’s cameras.

“I felt as if I was the recipient of his ‘hand-me-downs,’” she laughed.

It was the last camera she received, that prompted her to start experimenting with various camera settings and paying more attention to the technical side of photography. 

In August of 2016, the notion came to photograph all of the covered bridges in Madison County for use as reference material for artwork.  Traveling to each bridge for a photo soon began to reignite her passion for photography. 

Instead of just photographing the bridges, Bassett began to explore the far reaches of Madison County. The farther she traveled, the more entranced she became.

Lakeside in autumn

 “There is real beauty out here in this county that I never knew existed, she proclaimed. “I think I want to bring that beauty to the masses.”

Joining a Facebook group aptly named “Through the Lens”, Basset began to learn more information regarding photography.

“I can honestly say”, she confessed, “I owe a lot of my skills to some of the members of the group!”

Practicing to perfect her photos, Bassett to this day spends every spare minute in the company of her camera, covering almost every square inch of Madison County, one amazing adventure after another.

She has shared the fruits of her labor on Facebook, and with the meteorologists on WHO and KCCI who have aired her photos during newscasts. Rick Jost, the editor of “Our Iowa” magazine, has also published her photos.

“It is a very exciting and rewarding experience to have my photos showcased in this type of arena,” Bassett said.

“Photography is my avenue for exploring the artistic creativity within me and sharing it with the masses through social media. Through my camera lens, I am blessed to be able to share the beauty of Madison County with those who may not be able to witness it first hand. My goal is to provide beauty, joy and happiness for others. If I can accomplish that, I have joy in my own heart.”

Managing editor at the Madisonian.