"As a photography editor, I find myself tempted to put artists into slots. This person is a portraitist. That person works in black and white. This photographer shoots musicians. That photographer does documentary work. I simply can’t do this kind of thing with Karen Kuehn’s photography. She is able to drop in and photograph truck drivers, artists, kids, and CEOs with equal grace. She moves effortlessly from color to black and white, and when and why to use each. Most important, she comes back with images that have both surface richness and a real depth of emotion."
Editor in ChiefAmerican Photo
When I first saw Karen’s work many years ago, I was overwhelmed with the quality and the technical perfection of her beautiful images while surprised to hear that all were created with one camera and one lens.Since then, Karen has maintained the quality in her work but started to produce images with a unique touch and style obviously created in the imaginative mind of the photographer long before they are recorded in the camera. As a result, every image has a new approach that is completely different from what has been created before so that every new image brings a new and unexpected surprise. More importantly, each image that Karen creates is the type of image that one desires to see over and over and that one remembers for a long time. This, I feel, is the characteristic of a great photograph that is likely to become in important part of the photographic history.
"We have been committed to photography that tells a story, often a
story that affects us all and has formed a collective and shared
memory of key events in our time. Karen has spent her life in this
great tradition, photographing people and places across the United
States. If Karen didn't capture it, one might miss this part of
America. Her chronicles bring together far-away characters and her
tenderness makes them all familiar."
Michelle and Sidney Monroe
Monroe Gallery SF NM
I hate being photographed. My face looks wooden in pictures, as if carved by a sculptor who studied art at a school he found on the back of a pack of matches and had got to about lesson 4. And, of course, nothing really prepares you for what your body looks like on film. It's not just the 10 pounds the lens supposedly adds under your skin-it's the *way* it does it-- like an incompetent taxidermist had stuffed it in a hurry.
So, when Karen showed up to take my picture in August of 1992(?), I wasn't having any of it. I know every photographic trick in the book and I was determined not to fall for them. Just the facts, ma'am: I was prepared to offer up just the bare minimum.
Well, yes, that's just what I did: Within 30 minutes I was stripped down to my birthday suit and was swinging like a Playboy bunny on the tire swing. How did this woman do it?? She is funny, weirder than water and so damn good with a camera. She can charm a snake into a lawnmower, casting a spell over our hum-drum, quotidian lives ...From within that fantasy spell emerge her trademark evocative, vital and honest images.
MY FRIEND KAREN KUEHN
IT'S THE HUMANITARIAN IN HER THAT I APPRECIATE
IT'S HER DEDICATION TO GOOD, AND HER ONGOING QUEST FOR QUALITY THAT I LIKE.
BENEATH THE OUTER LAYER OF STYLE, IS A LUST FOR LIFE THAT I LOVE.
KK, A SEARCHING SOUL, SEEKING OUT WHAT IS RIGHT.
IN HER I KNOW THE AMERICAN VALUES THAT I ADMIRE.
When Karen Kuehn comes roaring up on a cloud to take your picture be very afraid because she's no ordinary body snatcher she's a lover with a camera who'll make your dreams immortal and by the way, watch out for your petunia because she'll sniff it out and light it up nice and pretty and then you know it will be on the cover of some big glossy magazine and your mama will say why'd you have to go and show that dang girl everything?
Because she was irresistible mama you will say.
Karen Kuehn carries a camera to show the world what unconventional joy looks like.
Karen Kuehn's work resounds with her wit, charm and humanity. She reminds
the viewer of how to see again as if through the eyes of a child, filled
with wonder and amazement. Her work is permeated with the joy and love of
life, therein lies her true gift.
It was a great pleasure years ago to receive Matrix submission for
syndication: material well Among them I had always the joy to see the
portraits of Karen of famous people. The reason to me was that she succeeds,
in the magic triangle that connects the photographer, the subject in the
picture and the public that will see the picture , to convey a statement of
culture and knowledge about the subject and in the same time a deep
emotional curiosity to know more about him. This si done with her peculiar
aesthetic style very clean and straight concentrating on the people and
taking out of them their sensibility. Look at the difference between Tom
Hanks and Sting. Two very different people two different souls and the same
way of revealing two completely different personalities.
Karen Kuehn's portraits are dynamic because they are suffused with her radiant energy. She elicits responses from her subjects that are transformed into portraits of immediacy, strength and beauty through the quick-fire play of her imagination. She doesn't do this occasionally she does it all the time. She isn't just lucky. She is good. Very good. She finds that angle, that mood, that light that inner quality and makes it manifest. Each portrait is as unique as its subject and her vision there's no "look," no formula, but a commitment behind the lens to the person in front of it and the skill to merge the two."
"The look she got in New Orleans was if time had stood still, timeless, you could smell the swamp and feel the wetness in the air. Some of the best photos I've seen that capture the real vibe. It was like a great old record that you couldn't turn off, she has the eye."
"Come One, Come All . . .
Karen Kuehn Colossal Foto Carnival
See the Lamp Girl and Pool Girl!
See Steve Martin smirk with a Pokka Dot hat!
See the shocking Spank me Baby!
See Cher like you've never seen her before!
Be shocked by Robert Downey Jr. with Cactus!
Be amazed by Estee Lauder and Son under glass!
Watch the Dancing Trees Dance!
And you'll never forget Godzilla in Paris!
No two Photos Alike.
Each one a surprise a& Original
LOOK AT YOUR OWN RISK!
"I WAS DAZZLED!"
"The best photographic portraits are not always taken, sometime they are simply given. Because of some unknown human chemistry one photographer is allowed to penetrate the surface of a personality while another image maker may simply come up with a picture that is clever but not terribly revealing. Judging by the broad variety of her portrait oeuvre, Karen Kuehn seems to have a distinct ability to connect with her subjects. Better than clever, Kuehn pictures are composed with fine aesthetic sensibilities. She is in full command of the space and light used and then somehow draws out the individual so the viewer connects not just with the photographer's personality and sensibilities, but more importantly, with the subject in front of the lens. She sees them in basic, simple ways, using each millimeter of space with great sense of balance and grace. Then, it appears she gets them to like the process and give her the picture she wants. I think it would be interesting to be photographed by Karen Kuehn. Nice, and probably fun."
William Albert Allard
"Karen Kuehn is a wonderfully imaginative photographer fully in command
of her art and craft. She blends impeccable technique with strong
artistic vision and a ferocious energy that is utterly disarming and
frank, while also being charming. Her collaborations with subjects rest
on an ability to focus her vision while eliciting their full
cooperation. The results are magic moments."
Director of Photography where ever he goes...NGS, the post, etc
"Karen Kuehn is one of the most innovative photographers of this
generation. Just when you think you know her style, she produces
photographs unlike what you had previously seen -- or expected. Some
photographers bring "a fresh view" to their subjects, but Karen brings
a fresh view every time -- fresh unto herself. As such, she combines
unusual creativity with an ability to interpret and to get amazing
cooperation from her subjects that produce unexpected -- and incisive
Legend in our own time, sage to many
"After teaching photography for 32 years at Cypress College in Southern California, I can tell you that it doesn't take long to spot the students with the drive and creative passion to learn photography. Karen Kuehn was one of those students. From the very beginning, she showed a flare for a bright, new and different approach to each of her assignments. Instructors would pass around her projects amongst themselves, commenting on her rather bold and unorthodox approach to another assignment...and they were always good! In a "studio practices" class that Karen was taking, I gave an assignment to photograph a bright, shiny metal object. Karen signed up for a four -hour block of time. Most students signed up for one or two hours. At one point on the appointed day, I stepped into the studio awash with white back ground paper everywhere. In the middle of the sea of white paper, Karen stood next to a gleaming chromed wheel from her father's vintage Ferrari. No one had ever done a car wheel before Karen came along. The wheel was elegant, and the resulting photograph blew everyone away. That's the Karen I know."
David F. Drake, Professor Emeritus
"Restaurants in Georgetown smelling up my office in Washington DC. That's how I remember Karen Kuehn. She was just getting started in photography and was showing me results of a project she was working on. Photos of chefs. They weren't ordinary and they stopped me in my tracks. Smell isn't the right word -- it was some kind of aroma that put right into the kitchens of those subjects. From that day on, I always looked forward to seeing her work."
"Karen Kuehn is a good friend and colleague
She also creates visuals of everything she has ever thought and felt, everyone she has met and places she has been along the way. …down to the smallest detail. I think that all these pictures combine into a record her life and times that allow others to experience these slices of life in an intimate way…. filtered through her eyes. Karen is a great storyteller about people and their emotions. She is leaving us a unique and intimate record or her time and travels that we should all reference from time to time. She is energetic, enthusiastic, intense and infectious character that can talk most anyone out of their clothes and out into a field in about 15 minutes. This says a lot about her…but I think it also says something about the rest of us at the same time. You will never forget the experience and there will be a large print on your wall to remind you of what you got talked into that day."
"Karen’s works are masterpieces.
I know I have one on my wall."
"karen kuehn's work is not only intriguing but she is a technical wizard. I love the way she mixes different styles yet it always has a touch of her in it: just a little sense of fun. Karen's work has a sense of nostalgia that is in the present that is all her. Her black and white is so great and can get the same point across in color. Her lighting and angles are right on for what she is trying to say. Karen lights up a room when she enters and i know that clients trust her which allows the most creativity to flourish. I think Karen's work is so refreshing. There isn't enough happiness in photography these days, some of it tries too hard, Karen's work just is cool"
JW Thompson NYC
" It has been my pleasure to work with Karen Kuehn
throughout the years on various important advertising projects.
I always felt confident that she would be able to achieve
exactly what we were after and have never been disappointed
with the final results.
Karen is a fine shooter and a unique human being"
VP Senior Art Producer
"My inner voice was shouting “Give this girl a gig!” when I first met Karen Kuehn as Photo Editor of Travel & Leisure magazine circa 1981 - 82 . We were both pretty new at the publishing game. The editors had a tight knit stable of photographers they liked to use over and over . I finally convinced them to try Karen on an assignment and everyone was glad I did. What was unique about the relationship and the nature of the collaboration with Karen was the level of trust between us. I trusted Karen’s passionate commitment to her art and she trusted my ability to see it through to it’s most powerful end .We had an amazing run of assignments where I would not give Karen a specific directive or tell her what the editors were envisioning for the story. I honestly remember saying “ Karen I’d like you to go to this Island for a week or so, take what you need and shoot it the way you see it.” Inevitably Karen would come back and tell me “the way I see will require that I use a light leaking Holga with infra red black & white film using coyote urine as a stop bath.” I never questioned or regretted getting behind Karen’s ideas and visions , they were so clear and pure . I just felt an obligation to do what I could to support her efforts. The readers, editors, writers, advertisers and competition judges were always blown away by her work. I think the excitement came from the element of surprise because the work was truly original, had loads of content and connection . However , it was never ever what was expected."
Readers Digest Editor/Photography Director
Karen, she's got moxie. The result is these pictures, at times strange and superb; and at other times, so straightforward, direct and simple as to make my lips ache from too much smiling. But simple is hard and weird is wonderful and Karen is, well Karen and thank god for her amazing talent. It makes you feel.