Karen Kasmauski came to our IRIS Nights lecture last night and explained to us why she does what she does.
"I was born an observer,
" she told those in attendance. An observer, yes, but also a storyteller.
While trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, she said that she settled on photography as a way to tell stories. The former newspaper photojournalist's only formal training in the field was what she describes as a life-long thirst to learn more about other people's lives.
In college, a palm reader predicted Karen would pursue a career in medicine. Obviously, that prediction didn't come true.
Still, maybe that palm reader was on to something. Over the course of her career, Karen has done several stories on health and medicine.
It was these stories that placed in her in some of the greatest danger. During one story about radiation, she was unknowingly contaminated with radiation after eating reindeer and moose meat from Sweden that was contaminated from the Chernobyl disaster.
Karen shared the story behind an amazing image of a survivor from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. During the shoot, this man, who was severely burned, asked her if she would be interested in seeing the charred and tattered jacket he was wearing on the day the bomb was dropped. She responded with a resounding
" What a profound story in a simple yet powerful image.
Not only were Karen's many colleagues in attendance during last night's IRIS Nights lecture but so was her family. Here she is with her proud husband and daughter.
Great job, Karen! We can't wait to hear more of your observations in the future!
(All images by Unique for the Space)