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Steve Husted of Knot Just Any Day -- Why NEPA? image
May 23, 2023
Steve Husted of Knot Just Any Day -- Why NEPA?
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“There’s a lot of arts in this community. It’s one of those areas, that unbeknownst to me when I moved here, the arts are proudly accepted and encouraged. There is a good community that supports it and people that value it.”

The trinity of Steve Husted is visual artist, musician, teacher. That succinctly sums up the whole of the man who is passionate about his privilege of archiving life through his photo lens. But, the NEPA transplant didn’t always know being a photographer was his calling.

In fact, the Sellersville, Pa native, who grew up in Pennsburgh, Montgomery County, and attended Upper Perkiomen schools, was more of an artist and musician. His childhood was full of art classes, singing and playing the guitar – which was more like an extremity then an instrument. A serendipitous photography class at Kutztown University, where he was a painting student earning a degree in art education, changed the trajectory of his life. The next semester he changed his major to photography and the rest is history.

Well, except for that love of music. After college, he joined a NEPA cover band (Lesson One for you 2000’s NEPA club scene kids) and by 2005 made NEPA his permanent residence. In 2008 Knot Just Any Day was formed, he married and had a son, and for the past 11 years has been sharing his passion for art and photography through that third love of his, teaching, at Wilkes University.

We met up with Steve in his studio in downtown Wilkes-Barre where he enthusiastically shared his love for taking pictures of beautiful things – and “knot” just any beautiful thing, but wedding days specifically. Over coffee and the offer to pull out the guitar and fire up the amp sitting in the corner (necessary for evening jam sessions), he told us why of all the places he’s lived in Pa, NEPA is such a great place to call home.

How long have you lived in NEPA?

Since day 1 of 2005. I moved here December 31, 2004. January 1, 2005 was my first day. (We’ll do the math, Steve. That’s 18 years) Darn it. That was hard!

What do you love about your town?

My hometown is great. It’s super residential. It’s got the Jewish community in Kingston that is thriving and it’s wonderful and there’s kids everywhere. There’s a very big, strong sense of family in that community, which I love. I think it’s fantastic. I’m not Jewish, but it’s nice to see families that care about their families.

Wilkes-Barre is like my home, too. I mean, I’m probably actually here more then I am, definitely awake, in Kingston. But I love Wilkes-Barre and the downtown and being a part of it. I’ve committed to Wilkes-Barre by opening a business here. I could have gone somewhere else. I could have found plenty of other places. But I chose downtown Wilkes-Barre. The thing I love about Wilkes-Barre is that I’m allowed to be a medium size fish in a medium size pond. And I can affect change in a size like this. I can offer help. I can create memories. I can have a lasting effect.

This area, it really helps that they’re so supportive of the arts. I’m not lost like I would be in a Philadelphia or a New York. I’m not lost in those areas. I’m not one of many. I’m one of a few. And I can make a mark that is a little bit more indelible. And that mark can affect change further. So, I like the size of the community I’m in. And I like my position of power to positively affect that change. I definitely think the community is fitted for people like me to help and be a part and to further grow the community.

What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?

It’s an easy one, but it’s a hard one cause it usually comes with a lot of stank. My favorite restaurant, right now, hands down, is CoreLife Eatery. We eat there every day. We’re going there after this (laughs boisterously).

I’m a big fan of Circles on the Square downtown. We’ve frequented them for years walking there. I love Margarita Azul. Yum. That’s a good one. That’s a real good one. Get yourself a margarita and wait for your food to be made. Oh, they are so good. The whole property is beautiful. Food’s good. The people are sweet. The owners are so nice. But their margarita’s are fantastic!

Ah! Go to Serpico’s. Best pizza place around here. Hands down. They reheat the pizza. It’s so warm and crispy. So good. So, if I say a mom-and-pop restaurant, I say Serpico. It’s incredible pizza. And Circles because I love the people that work there. They are kind and wonderful people. Like, who doesn’t love Billy? He’s the best.

But CoreLife is our go-to. Just because it’s healthy and you can identify everything on your plate and be like, that’s natural. That’s good. The people that work there bust their butts and make really good wraps. It’s good to go somewhere where you can go constantly and they know your order. It’s like Norm from Cheers. So ya, final answer. CoreLife.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?

(I rebuked his first answer which was, “I love to work.” Though we have mad respect for his devotion to archiving the lives and events across NEPA, we needed a real answer, so here you go…)

I love taking my son to Hillside Farms. Hands down. It’s like one of my favorite things to do. When my wife and I got married in 2010, we took our entire wedding party there before they had all the beautiful stuff they have now. And we all got ice cream. There are pictures of us leaning over (dramatically) to not get any ice cream on our suits and their dresses. Hillside is a very special spot to us. But, it’s like, oh, I’m at Hillside for another portrait session kind of thing. But honestly, when I take my kid there, it’s a totally different experience. And I love going there just to see the alpacas alone!

I also love going to O’Malia’s Farm on River Street. I take my kid there a lot. We’ll get pumpkins there or pick up flowers for my wife. Or my wife and son and I will go there and pack the car with garden stuff. And I enjoy doing that a lot. Going to places I can frequent and support a local business. And Edwards. We walk around Edwards at last every over week. I take my son and he tries to find all the bunnies in the cages. I love that.

Those three things are what we do on the weekends. I go to little farms. I buy potted plants. My kid buys seeds. So, I might have pumpkins in my yard next month.

What’s next for you?

The biggest next for me is teaching workshops here. I want nothing more then to show people my love and affinity for photography. I just want to share. Show and tell is the best thing on Earth, ya know? I came up with this workshop series called ISO, which stands for “in search of,” like the old periodical thing. But it’s also a camera term which is about the sensitivity of a camera. “in search of” has three programs. One’s called “in search of BASICS,” and it’s for the photographer who is like, I’m a mom or dad and I’ve got a camera and I want to take pictures of my kid playing pee-wee soccer. Or I love taking pictures of the river and I need to know how to get really good sunsets. So, we’re breaking it back down to the basics.

The next one chronologically is “in search of BRAND,” for those creative startups, not just photography people, that are wanting to take what you want to do and just refining it and tightening it up. Make sure all the things are checked. Everything from liability to sales tax to proper website management to branding and logo redesign and what’s next for me, sort of thing.

The last one is “in search of LIGHT.” That’s the scary one for me because it’s me putting myself out there saying, like, I’m a professional. You should come learn from me. And that’s a big terrifying thing that I’ve wanted to do for the past five years. It’s one thing to sort of call yourself a resource and it’s another thing to call yourself a pro.

Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?

Hopefully good places. I just had a really good conversation with Shelby Monk and Larry Newman down at DCP (Diamond City Partnership) and we were talking about how we’re in a regrowth period, personally and communally (since Covid). What I would love to see back for the city is one-on-one interactions with people again. I want to shake someone’s hand. I want to be able to look somebody in the face. I want to be able to say thank you. I want to give a hug. I want that again.

We’re getting back to getting people downtown. We’re getting back to having people park in our parking lot. And I want that to be where the city goes. And I think that’s where the city’s going to go. It’s the only way we can get anything better again is if we like, I don’t know, bump into each other occasionally. Things are better when they are done in groups. We work well when we bump into each other. So, I hope people start bumping into each other a lot more downtown and the communities around us, too. If there’s more people, there’s progress. So, what I’d like to see, and what I hope is going to happen, and I think will happen, is people are starting to come back around again. I think people are just tired of not doing. And it feels good.


Why not? Why NEPA? I think it goes back to I can affect change. Out of all the little towns I’ve lived in – from Montgomery County, through Jim Thorpe, Carbon County, up into this neck of the woods and all the little parts I’ve lived along here in Wyoming and Wilkes-Barre. I can make a difference in someone’s life here. That’s all. Whether I play music, whether I make a beautiful photograph. I can’t tell you how many times I go to a funeral and my photos are the photos. It’s wild. It’s unfortunate. It’s sad. But it’s an honor. Why NEPA? Because I can make a difference. Period. End of sentence.