Thursday, December 17, 2009

SCOTT MARKEY - A Week With Karen is Very Intense

"My week with Karen Kuehn was very intense, inspiring, creative and non-stop.
I never stopped making images.
Karen opened my eyes, heart, and soul to the possibilities of capturing memorable images.
I thank her so much for the experience, it was with out a doubt my most extraordinary photographic adventure due to karen's unique way of sharing as a
master photographer."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Screen Door Salesman at Burning Man 2009

Is the customer always right?
Yes, having clients/customers to serve is a priveledge and I was raised old school. My mom and dad always took care of the folks that came into their business. Their attitude was one worth rendering as my life and career grows. I like that I have clients that do return business with my company, with me. I work and huge range of projects; editorial is loose and usually left to my devices to solve problems on the spot. To be conceptual and tell stories is a gift and a better gift to be assigned based on the fact that the editors love the way you think. Its an honor really! Advertising clients tend to have an idea pre-shoot and you have to deliver exactly what they want and why not, they usually pay more. I like to compare dinner to photography assignments.
When I go out and order a fish dish I don't want liver! Assignments are the same to me and I really try to think about my team, the client at large and bring exactly if not more to the table.

Developing relationships with art directors takes time. It doesn't always get cemented in the first project. You have to court them and care for them with kit gloves. Pamper your clients.
Its really important that they not only go back to their world with the images but with a great experience and sometimes a very memorable one. So many photographers, so many people just have a camera and proclaim they are a photographer! And guess what regardless of the quality lots of folks are getting jobs with little lighting or tech experience. Doesn't really matter anymore as long as the end result looks cool. For those of us who are craftsmen and women it puts a bug up our bums. We need to remind our client base that we see differently and that we are an asset to any job assigned.

Refreshing clients memories of your talent is really important. I have a rep and we need to send out promos all the time. Its really a job unto yet many dedicated days of research and making lists and updating and than posting. I am always busy making my next contact to get my next project going and sending out notes and a small smattering of promos to my regular clients.
Its part of the deal. Kicking back was never the way to be successful in the field of photography.

Contracts, estimates can lay out exactly some of the details that can pave the way to a clear and concise shoot. Especially with advertising jobs and even hook ups with friends. Writing it all down backs up anything that could be what I call loose. I recently had a shoot with an old friend and the art director came in after the shoot was done....two months later and says. I want it a different way! Well who do you think they wanted to do it for free? Should I do it ? One has to consider the relationship at hand. My client and friend of 20 years didn't like the idea of shooting and paying again! It was a gently realization that the photographer wasn't at fault here and he did come back to me and book another day. A flat rate was determined and I never charged him much in the beginning but I made certain to shoot a few images and email them to the art director in another state so she could approve going forward without me spending my clients money on a full days shoot. I tried to take care of this client the best way I could by being professional and taking him through each of the steps in a gentle way so he had his assets covered from the team he was working with out of State. They were not paying for the additional shooting. He was and if they didn't like this shoot he'd be in a pickle. So think about each job as if it were you investing your money into branding and TLC your client. I paid for lunch that day as he's a good guy and doesn't fully understand the workings of photography. Its always an education for most. has some cool forms.

Thanking your customers is key. Treating them the way you want to be treated. If they support your year...remember them at the holidays, write notes and check in and even go to lunch with them when you can afford to do could be a cool little dive that is interesting or a picnic or an expensive cafe, your choice but make it interesting for them as most folks work in an office that is less than interesting. You could make a nice impression and when your done with lunch you may be the guy or gal that they call next for a big job. And remember no job is too small or too big. You can always hire a producer to get you golden.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


With the economic climate many shooters are scurrying to make ends meet. I am in a community that loves photography yet getting jobs here that can sustain you are difficult. Most of my work aside of a few very loyal clients come from out of state, NYC, Midwest and LA regions. I travel to work, usually four hours by truck one way or flying to a destination.

This summer I expanded what local photographers call the "Bake Sale" where we manage to sell artist proof prints and editions on the weekend to workshop students and other locals out of Santa Fe New Mexico. I have this posted on Facebook as the Bake Sale. This was an excellent way to create community and was very up beat for many of those who chose to be part of this event.

Feeling driven to make art, I decided to head west to shoot at Burning Man. I was on my way with a buddy who backed out and than I felt squeezed for cash flow so I fundraised my trip to make art. Many friends and strangers supported this raising about 10gs for a 25g project in one month. I am still forging forward with my work which is in the works right now!

Now it is fall and the photography work is trickling clients are beginning to call my agent in California and we're getting booked. The year as been all about re-inventing and positioning my future to make art and at a moments notice, do the editorial and ad jobs that so support making creative work such as the Burning Man project.

It's said that if you feed the fire of your mind with negative thoughts then you will do just that...and I am feeding my mind with doing and making and creating art...and my life is moving forward and the work is being manifested. I am so up about this next chapter of my life that I have no room for pondering but rather just DOING IT.

If there is a lull in this economic storm then I go out and make art images.... I shoot just about every day and it is really apart of my skin. I look at my inspirations in black and white photography and that propels me into the abyss of shooting. Sometimes I just have piles of film to process. When it gets huge, I get to it. The dark room isn't my favorite place to be...I love being outside in nature. But this winter, I will wrap my head on printing and producing a show of my work hopefully for the Annenberg Space for Photography, ICP and/or Aperture along side the book in production, be it self published or produced by a's all good.

I am like a shark, I can't stop swimming or I will die.

Einstein said something to the nature ..."nothing happens till something moves"

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Summer season started with a very intimate class of photographers from all around the world.
Class starts Sunday night and I decided to break the barriers with a NUDE SELF PORTRAIT.
I love this project with a group it lets everyone open up and leave there lives back home a little bit more and be present with the week that they so gifted themselves.
The week was filled with many emotions and also lessons on pulling emotional feelings out of subjects. We explored with wonderful models using local spots for backdrops. We did a blindfolded project to heighten all our other senses. To stop doing what we always do in patterns and to get the mind thinking rather than reaction, to dig deeper into their creative beings to produce more vital images. I love teaching for the Santa Fe Workshops and this class is my favorite one to teach to date. Normally I do one on one workshops and work with individuals to expand what they have and manifest more of what seems to be an untouchable dream for some. This years class was sweet and peaceful, a bit more on the calm side than most.
I enjoyed the experience and I want to share with the world the wonderful work everyone did in our class. Thank you everyone I hope your summer is great.

Friday, April 3, 2009


I am very proud of the work that is created in the workshop setting with a variety of students, photographers, artists whom dare to take a workshop. I think it takes a ton of courage to jump into a group situation and share and expose yourself and the thing that is really a given is that learning will be an on going process. I don't think I have the back bone to do it. I can come out of my world of shooting assignments to do workshops here and there and one on one workshops however I am a very private person even thou those whom truly know me can say I'm a social creature...that's right I am peeking my head out...teach a bit and back to my reality of which is peace filled and creative on a solo level often supporting the needs of others. I am always amazed by the fabulous connections and work shared in the workshop setting. this particular class is still almost a year later very much on my mind. All my past classes were equally as special however the world of media and internet are just now allowing me the gift of sharing classes images and work to the world at large. Here's to all of you in all classes. Big hugs keep snappin with a caring eye and kind heart.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I was going to school and working summers as a National Park Ranger. I did all the normal things to be good at my job. Law Enforcement Criminal Justice Training, CPR instructor, Park Medic, Avalanche school, Bob Bondurant School of Driving the lists go on....and in the mean time me and my friend "Bronica" my little 2 1/4 camera were having a love afair. Most of the ranger gals had boy friends and I was off shooting pics and riding horses....hiking climbing biking....these were the things that fed my soul. I heard the Queen was coming to Yosemite so I wrote her a letter to the UK asking permission to shoot her portrait here's the reply. Its nice when people have manner right? What style. Didn't get my shot but I still have this letter. By the way...if you haven't seen the post about Annie Liebovitz shooting the Queen check it out.

Behind the scenes: The Queen Elizabeth 11 (ACO)

R E P U T A T I O N always nurture

Put your money where your mouth is.....hearsay is not always true in life....but repeat business, great clients and hard work with results seems fitting. I have been shooting professionally since 1986. I arrived via Rich Clarkson Director of Photography National Geographic Intern program.
I was coming from my former seasonal career of being a National Park Ranger LEO. I did this for five long seasons prior to stepping into New York Cities magazine industry. I arrived with a backpack filled with gear and clothing. 1000.00 dollars to my name and a pretty serious if not hungry attitude. Never living in a major city it was intense and difficult for me to actually enjoy living there for the first few years, however I made fast friends with several great people, Mark Jacobson, Frannie Ruch, Laura Broadus, Susan Vermazon, Marc Balet all gave me breaks my first year than Peter Howe of the NYT, Bill Black at Travel & Liesure and Sat Night Live really put me on the map I was off and running and excited and happy to be part of what was a wonderous time in my young career. Now years later I'm still and assignment shooter and probably more than ever IN LOVE with my love with taking photographs and solving assignments and being part of the bigger picture. Why I am still working...well because I keep it simple and care. Thank god for great producers, stylist, H&M and yes....always thanks to great assistants...I've had some great crews of which I should blog next. Here's some quotes from some folks about working with me.

Here's todays quotes.


Director of Photography Readers Digest

"I have worked with Karen on magazine assignments for over 20 years . I've always been able to count on Karen for coming up with ideas that bring in the element of surprise and originality no matter what the project . Karen takes great pride in her creativity and approaches every assignment as if it will be the only image in her portfolio. Karen's people skills are frightening . You can't quite believe what she is able to get out of her subjects . I know it has something to do with the intense empathy she conveys , the mutual respect she secures and a bond of trust that allows for more opportunities than imaginable . Karen manages to make everyone involved feel like they've been instrumental in making the final outcome the best it can be . Plus .....very , very important's lots of fun every step of the way ! "

The Boss - Esparza Advertising NM

“Karen is consistently an absolute joy to work with. Her personality is pleasant and reassuring for our agency and our clients. Her professionalism is only outdone by her incredible eye for images that captivate.”


Art Buyer - McCann Erickson NYC

"It was always a pleasure working with Karen and her dedicated crew on the MasterCard campaign.
I found her to be a true professional with a wonderful artistic eye.
At that time we seemed to be shooting back to back ads, all different themes and locations, timing was always a concern (at least to me)
but not to Karen, she always made it work and never once dropped the ball.
All involved on these projects both client and creative were thrilled with the end results.
Ahhh..those were the days!"

Art Director - Rick Johnson Agency NM

"Working with Karen is so easy. I never worry about getting the right shot. Not only does she get the shot I want, she always provides great options that I hadn’t considered. Karen has a real gift for working with people. She always makes them feel at ease, which enables her to capture their true and natural side. Karen is an amazing photographer, and I always have a blast with her."

Photography Director - Glamour Magazine Conde Nast NY

"I have hired Karen over the years for various assignments and the one word I have to say about Karen is FUN!!!
It’s fun to be on a shoot with that girl. She inspires, makes people feel beautiful, and brings a little farm and fun to the pictures."

Director of Photography - New Mexico Magazine

"Karen is an awesome photographer, with huge passion for her work. I haven't seen her "in action" but her photos say it all. She has an ability to bring out the playfulness and personality of her portrait subjects with her imaginative setups. You can see the rapport she builds by their response to the camera lens. She brings them out and she brings them to you. She has an eye for rich and telling details. Her color and composition bring life to even her inanimate subjects. She's wildly enthusiastic--I always get ten times more than I ask for and I know she does the same for all her clients. For instance, she did an assignment on Truth or Consequences, NM for Vanity Fair. They ran two photos. She sent me the whole batch of 700-plus photos. I was able to use a dozen others for our story. She works hard for the money! More to the point, she works hard for the love of it."

Stylist NYC

"Working with Karen is always fun! Besides being captivating and incredibly talented, she is very charismatic, charming, creative, funny and fun loving. She is very passionate about her photography, and working with her is always very memorable and a total creative experience. I highly recommend Karen as a person, and as a unique and special talent."


Associate Director, Brand Strategy and Communication

"Working with Karen is amazing. She's a brilliant artist, and at the same time, a creative director and producer. When we set out to capture the iconic images of our brand campaign, it was Karen's abilty to connect with the subjects that drove the output. Her instinct, and her relentless energy to find the essence of an idea is an incredibly powerful combination."

Photography Editor
Smithsonian Magazine

"Working with Karen is a treat. The images she conjures up are often a surprise, her creativity and energy, boundless and inspiring."

Artist Representive Friend & Johnson NYC

"Karen Kuehn is an Assassin with the camera.

She just kills it every time and gets the perfect shot without fail. I
love her incredible professionalism and dedication to getting the shot
and also, sometimes more importantly, knowing that she has taken the
definitive image and then moving on to the next great one.

She balances herself between two worlds - pure artistry and love of the
image from her vast editorial experience as well as the commercial, with
her advertising work.

But they aren't mutually exclusive. Yes, she has an incredible eye and
can create beautiful, timeless images. But she can also handle
large-scale productions that have her advertising clients using her
again and again.

Most importantly she is a humanist. A pure soul interested in the
people and world around her. I am proud to have been her agent and to
call her my friend."


Photography is personal for me...can't say I can change my stripes.
If a client wants the way I see and my intellectual way of problem solving they get me raw and creative.
I appreciate all the generous work from my clients, magazines, editors, art buyers, art directors YOU ALL ROCK.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Almost everyday someone asks me what I prefer; film or digital files?
I love both. I feel those of us who started with film and spent long hours lighting and processing film have a fuller respect and ability to communicate with all the tools. Those who have only used digital don't know the differences in the quality and importance of getting the lighting and technical aspects right before exposing to film or cards as we say! Photographers rely on fixing things in post on the computer which at the end of the day it really doesn't matter as long as the end results are achieved I believe.
Keeping it brief I want to say I love digital for jobs and for fun.
no chemicals to pollute the earth and the turn around is amazing.
If I have to collect a print for art sake.
I want to collect silver edition fiber archival prints , NOT epson prints even thou very beautiful I am a dinosaur and die hard black and white photographer.
I shoot it all and enjoy it all.
Digital is better for the planet and is getting perfected more each day.
Think Green.

Friday, February 6, 2009

NORAH LEVINE Inspiring My Passion.

"I was fortunate enough to participate in a portrait workshop with Karen Kuehn. I cannot say enough about how life changing the experience was for me. Photographically speaking, I discovered a great deal about the skills and talent I had and how to expand myself creatively. She provided tools for discovering my true passion and inspiration When I left the workshop with Karen I felt I had grown as a photographer and as a person. I felt more directed and positive about where my journey was headed. Working with Karen is about so much more than photography. I learned more about myself in that week than I could have ever imagined. She is talented in many ways - as a true artist, mentor and as an experienced person who is generous in her sharing of those life experiences. My workshop with Karen pushed my career to the next level. Doors opened and I felt I had the skills and mental preparation to handle walking through them...ready to open the next door on the other side. Thank you, Karen."

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Now the election has past and Americans are hopeful. I'm hopeful but the reality for photographers is that were like lone planets spinning in a Universe of our own. Money is tight everywhere. Only a handful of shooters are banking it consistently. I don't see how photographers can ever get rates raised and the basic respect of clients if editors don't have the means to pay them accordingly. It's an ago old problem...the pecking order...and were all at there steps waiting for what feels like crumbs and an occational lump of gold if were talented enough or just rubbing sholders at the right dinner tables I suppose? Budgets are dictated by publishers and have never been huge with editorial clients unless fashion inspired or cover related. The rates have not changed in decades and the rights or getting less. Its not the editors fault, he or she work for the publisher and we just are hired guns. Photographers have to carry there own insurances and fend for themselves daily. Many publications have relied upon there "NAME" and the fact that some of the more revered magazines in AMERICA are weekly which is great for putting a shooters name before potential clients and those powers that be. (The editors HIRING) I have worked for many amazing editors and now everyone is an expert editor and photographer. I think its odd that many have not studied the arts on both counts but rather by the seat of their pants do the job according to the title and not with the greatness of those I've been so lucky crossed paths in my career. Where is photography going? I was so inspired by the batch of photographers that seemed to bring an artful eye to all of us. Weston, Arbus, Michals, Newman, Penn, Frielander, Mann and so many more. The majority of us have to earn a living and seems making a living can rip you away from your original dreams. However fortunate my career may seem to some I tell you it has been hard earned and my first LOVE. Photography still holds my heart for the sake of the journey and the process I am beholden.
I am constantly going between worlds of Magazine, Advertising and Art. I am fully committed to all the best I can but somehow you have to make reality checks. Living in NYC I was working steady and earning my way and now that I've moved to New Mexico I work steady on getting work and I think most of the photographers with or with out reps are doing much the same.
I am thankful for all that comes my way. One has to be flexible to stay in this climate. I keep hearing from shooters that are second guessing what they should do with there lives now? I do understand this feeling where a talented shooter may not be in big demand at the moment but he or she has something unique in the way they see. Don't give up. Everyday do something to make the world see or feel your talent. It can kill a persons spirit if the majority is not bangin your door down for work. Hang in there I say. I think if you love it than keep focused and make projects that make a difference and do what you may to keep food on the table. This is tough times and I don't count on anyone to feed my life. I have a wonderful rep. now but ALWAYS make sure you hustle your work too. NEVER LEAVE YOUR CAREER soley in the hands of others. I did this the last few years and the painful financial loss has been mine to bare. I feel the expense of multiple portfolios is a waste and one can better funnel what money they have into online promotion and shooting. I suggest if you know stories and or clients that you can send to magazines and ad agencies than your helping our community sustain itself. Build relationships with those folks and the value for all will grow. Make lists and manifest it. Care about your clients and their needs and be original. Don't be battered down by online sites that want us to pimp it out free all the time. Value your intellectual property. Look at the bigger picture if your shooting for less than find the good for all and explore your point of view. It's all additude. Make it creative and work for you too. Remember everything is cycling and with the suppose 2012 end of the world coming , well its not that at all ....its the end of the Mayan calendar's dark year's and the BEGINNING of the "light year's" in the new Mayan Calendar so we will move forward and create a ripple of strength by feeding the positive fire. I can and I am and I will be a creative working photographer. I wish all my peers much success and peace in our quest to sustain the passionate eye as image makers.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Art Brewer a household name in surf photography yet not at all limited to it. Sometimes photographers get pigeonholed into a type of photography or a style ... surf, portraits, essays, advertising...the list goes on and on and the fact is some photographers are extremely talented and do many things but few realize how many avenues a shooter has to walk down just to support their lives. Art's career is a great example of just that....we all think surfing but he can do anything needed to make and evocative image. He's chill and he flows with making images to tell stories, be it many or just one as a signature image. Today I received my second book from Art. This one is called "BUNKER SPRECKELS" surfing's divine prince of decadence. The publisher Taschen
Put together by Art Brewer . C.R.Stecyk III. The book is one that you open and want to make friends with right away. Surf culture one can experience with this book. It should be a movie. I want to be on a beach reading it, and better yet being the character Bunker would of been a blast. He seems like the Jim Morrison of surfing, or much like the writer Hunter Thompson. How come I didn't know about this guy? Now their is an entire book about him and he's the real deal. The book is just loaded with timeless images uncensored and each one is leaving you more hungry than the last. Art is the man....he's got the eye and the appetite for life. This book is outright SEXY and makes you THINK....what the hell I'm I doing here on this planet. I need to have more fun. We all get so caught up with bills and positioning our careers that we get derailed. Those of us who actually love what we taking pictures get pushed aside for the flavor of the month, making you wonder what or why were doing what we do. Arts book really reminded me of the great passion of living and being who were suppose to be fearlessly.
The book is full of interview style quotes about a man's cycle of life. Bunker also reminds me of Woody Harrelson living on the edge...maybe normal for him but when your in that sort of vital way of living one doesn't often have time to think about more than just BEING.
Thanks Art for sharing your point of view. Always a pleasure.
This book has a wonderful mysterious allure for me.
Great book go buy it esp if your a lover of Surf and Anthropology. Art was there and his eyes have gifted all of us an interesting journey of a few wild cards. This a good book for a hamock day.


Friday, January 16, 2009


WOW! that's Anotonin to me. We have known of one another for many years in the photography circles of New York City and New Mexico when Antonin comes to teach photography workshops. I originally met him while speaking at the Houston Photo Fest way back when I was based out of NYC. The lights dimmed and the images in bold black and white, gritty appeared upon the screen. It was like a heart beat slow and steady and kept you breathless waiting for the next. It was at this event where I really felt emotionally moved by Antonin's images. One such image was of little girls dressed like angels coming right off the screen into the viewers laps. I was so moved by the grace of his eye and felt at that moment that he was a messenger of a different sort. We connected later after the show where I talked him into trading an image. I wanted the angel girls and he wanted a print I shot of my son at 3 weeks old laying below a large redwood tree shot with an 8x10 camera. So the deal was made and we traded a few years later as I recall. I picked him up on my old BMW bike in Manhatten....I rode up and here's the jolliest guy you will meet toten a print and cigar. I hand him a half helmet and he jumped on the back of my bike ... almost popped a wheelie.....we rode to my place and dropped his print off and got mine. Over the years we connect on occation never enough but its always a pleasure.
God Bless you where ever you are Antonin your a special Spirit.

Monday, January 12, 2009


This is Reid Callanan. I originally met him via Lynn Hughes former rep for Fugi and accomplished photographer/friend. I was called upon to teach my first workshop in NM in the late 80's. I was nervous and felt my mission was shooting, however pursuasive Reid got me on the roster for a week of teaching of which changed and evolved my perspective on the educational front. At first I thought it was the perfect opportunity to "give back" to my photography community but after this experience the gift was mine to have the opportunity and rather large assortment of creatives around sharing and experiencing the totality of photography in all aspects. Now years later not feeling much older but rather a few gray hairs I have returned to the adjunct teaching profession through doing group and one on one workshops with Reid's blessings always. I am very proud to say I am part of the Santa Fe Photography staff/freelance. I am also a big fan of Reid's ability to genuinely pull together some of the finest photographers to impart their professional and personal approaches to being a photographer and making images more special and supporting a rather unique core of creatives as inspiration. Reid is the catalyst for all sorts of learning and sharing. He walks quietly and humbly on our planet but he is solid granite. He has made the Santa Fe Photography Workshops an institution to be respected. I highly recommend the classes here and if your not a group person than I will gladly take your needs one on one and help you make some bold steps toward your dreams.

The Santa fe Workshops

One onOne Workshops with karen

photo by lisa goldman

Saturday, January 3, 2009


A year back Tim Mantoani contacted me to be one of many photographers that he was including in his project about photographer's with key pieces shot during their career. I finally connected with him Jan 2nd 2009 while passing through San Diego where he has his studio and a large format view camera set up....Tim is on his last batches of poleroid film so I feel lucky to be included. Mind you I am traveling with teenagers and a truck and trailer camping for the holiday vacation so the idea of traveling with edition prints was pretty unappealing as well and Tim (the uber guy) totally had his lab hook up the prints for his shoot! Tim couldn't be a nicer guy! Super accomidating. Thanks Tim.

When I first saw the email I found it really interesting to see some of my heros as image makers. I never really slow down and think that I may have contributed many bodies of work in my brief lifetime and I have had many great moments shared with subjects. I feel I have so much work to do and projects to complete which when you get lumped into someone elses projected it can make you think that hey....maybe I have something unique and maybe I have touched others emotionally. I had an amazing career in NYC and miss being in the hotbed of assignment shooting but I think New Mexico has something for the next chapter of my life in photography.
CHECK OUT Tims website (behind photographes project) I shoot 8x10 film pretty regularly still but when you see Tim and his associate working its like surgery. Facebook under photos you can find a few more shots under an afternoon with
Tim Mantoani.