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Karen Kasmauski

Former National Geographic Photographer, Documentary Filmmaker & Professor

Former National Geographic Photographer, Documentary Filmmaker & Professor

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Washington, DC, USA
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Karen Kasmauski Biography

Karen Kasmauski is a photographer, filmmaker, project manager and educator. During her two decades as a National Geographic magazine photographer, Kasmauski produced 25 major stories on topics including the Ecology of Disease, Human Migration, Viruses, Aging and Genetics. Most of her stories are based on ideas that she originated and proposed.

Kasmauski’s travels have taken her from the rainforests of Malaysia to the megacities of India to the north slope of Alaska. She has covered earthquakes in Japan, been arrested in Africa and exposed to radiation in Russia.

A keen observer of human moments, Kasmauski captures the dynamics within families, the interactions between mother and child, or the calm of an individual’s solitude, all with spontaneity and authenticity. Her work portrays ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, from families struggling in drought-stricken Africa to immigrants beginning new lives in America. Her stories capture the epic ordinary of everyday lives—the small yet universal moments that connect us each to one another.

Her global health work led to a collaboration with Emory University to produce the award-winning book “NURSE: A World of Care.” Kasmauski traveled around the globe to produce original photography for the book, which explores global issues facing the nursing profession. NURSE, featuring an introduction by former President Jimmy Carter, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Kasmauski’s previous book “IMPACT: From the Front Lines of Global Health” looks at the causes of infectious diseases throughout the world. Former President Jimmy Carter wrote introductions for both books. Kasmauski’s 2015 documentary film “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight—The Japanese War Brides” aired globally on BBC.

After receiving a Getty Images grant to produce a video on the struggles of an environmental nonprofit group, Kasmauski was awarded a Knight Fellowship to study at Ohio University, where she received an MA in Visual Communication.

Kasmauski leads photography tours for National Geographic and other clients in locations ranging from Antarctica to New Guinea to the Galapagos. She teaches classes on video storytelling, photojournalism and news writing at George Washington University and George Mason University. Her photographs have been exhibited at the United States Congress, the Centers for Disease Control, the Carter Center, the National Academy of Sciences, Emory University and the National Geographic Society.

Kasmauski is driven by the power of photography to make eye contact—to recognize in the unfamiliar something that is of yourself. If she is moved by what she sees, she hopes that others will be too.

Karen Kasmauski Speaking Topics

  • The Culture of Obesity

    Reflecting on the cover story and the controversial image Kasmauski shot that raised as much furor as praise, Kasmauski discusses obesity around the world: what it indicates, what it enables, and what it often predetermines in societies as disparate as rural Japan, Northern Alaska, Sub-Saharan Africa and Appalachia.

  • The Value of Cultural Differences

    Kasmauski champions the value of what is for many, their first filter on experience. In her line of work, for instance, who shoots the story often factors into what story will be told. A Japanese American woman, as in Kasmauski’s case, will likely have a different cultural filter than a man from another part of the world. Both would arrive at the same scene, but each would interpret the surroundings, the narrative, the relationships, according to his or her baseline beliefs and experiences. Kasmauski argues that this distinction is what feeds the rich human experience, and without it, we are little more empty vessels.

  • An American Journalist Explores Her Japanese Roots

    No matter how hard she searched the faces and communities of Japan, Kasmauski could not find the mythologized Japanese women she had always read about: the fragile flowers. It wasn’t until she traveled the world as a photographer for National Geographic that she rediscovered half of her heritage and grew acquainted with a modern Japanese culture.

  • The World’s Other War: A Decade on the Front Lines of Global Health

    For the last ten years Kasmauski has given us the personal side of numerous global health crises: AIDS, malnutrition, immunization, reproductive health, and overpopulation. In this sweeping view of the human condition, Kasmauski shares the stories that have and will continue to shape our joint destiny in this ever-shrinking world.

  • Nurse: A World of Care

    Kasmauski focuses her lens on the inspiring and compelling story of nurses around the globe, from midwives working on the Texas/Mexico border to nurses fighting AIDS in Kenyan slums. In this presentation, she illustrates why nurses hold the power to make a difference and are the true leaders in many communities, serving on the front lines of social, economic and environmental crises.

  • Holding Up Half the Sky: How Women Make a Difference Worldwide

    Over the past 20 years Kasmauski has traveled the world for National Geographic, photographing stories of a wide range of women, from health workers in Bangladesh, prostitutes in India, and women Marines training for combat to teenage mothers in Nebraska and office workers in Japan. Kasmauski weaves together the common threads that run through their experiences—stories of courage, love, family, and honor.

Karen Kasmauski Videos

  • Rosebud Film Festival 2016: "The Japanese War Brides"
    Host Kevin Sampson talks with 2/3 of the co-directing team of the film "Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides", Kathryn Tolbert and...
  • Illustrating the unillustratable | Karen Kasmauski | TEDxMidAtlantic ...
    Since 1984, Karen Kasmauski has photographed more than two dozen major stories for National Geographic magazine. Her work examines issues of science,...

Karen Kasmauski Books

  • NURSE: A World of Care
    NURSE: A World of Care
  • Impact: On the Frontlines of Global Health
    Impact: On the Frontlines of Global Health

Speaker Lists Featuring Karen Kasmauski

FAQs on booking Karen Kasmauski

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  • What topics does Karen Kasmauski speak about?

    Karen Kasmauski is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Art, Arts & Humanities, Culture, Health, Healthcare and Medical, Photography, Speakers by Industry, Virtual Speakers.
  • Where does Karen Kasmauski travel from?

    Karen Kasmauski generally travels from Washington, DC, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
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Karen Kasmauski is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as The Culture of Obesity, The Value of Cultural Differences, An American Journalist Explores Her Japanese Roots, The World’s Other War: A Decade on the Front Lines of Global Health, Nurse: A World of Care and Holding Up Half the Sky: How Women Make a Difference Worldwide. The estimated speaking fee range to book Karen Kasmauski for your event is $10,000 - $20,000. Karen Kasmauski generally travels from Washington, DC, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Annie Griffiths, Smita Sharma, Doug Allan, Cesar Kuriyama and Alice Waddington. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Karen Kasmauski for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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