Karen Kasmauski has photographed for major publications and non-profit organizations, including National Geographic Magazine, Smithsonian, The New York Times, the Centers for Disease Control, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Family Health International. She has produced 25 major stories for National Geographic, including a portrayal of contemporary Japanese women, the environmental impact of Alaskan oil, and the culture of Hawaiians. Her photographic coverage of complex social issues, including population and aging, were nominated for National Magazine Awards. Her work has taken her to every continent on earth.
National Geographic named Kasmauski as a Contributing Photographer in Residence, providing support for her decade-long coverage of global health issues, spanning multiple National Geographic stories. These became the foundation for her book Impact: on the Frontlines of Global Health. The book illuminates the combination of social, environmental, and economic conditions that allow pandemics like COVID-19 to rapidly spread across our planet. The “Impact” photographs, exhibited at the Carter Center, the Centers for Disease Control, The National Academy of Sciences, and National Geographic, were also presented in Kasmauski’s TEDx talk. Kasmauski’s next book, Nurse, A World of Care, produced with Emory University, examined global health issues as encountered by nurses around the world.
Exploring her own roots as the daughter of a Japanese war bride, Kasmauski partnered with two colleagues—also war bride daughters—to create a 30-minute documentary about their mothers. The film, Fall Down Seven, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides, examines the challenges of biracial upbringing in the United States. BBC World News licensed the film, broadcasting it globally for a year. After winning numerous film festival awards, the film now forms the basis of a forthcoming Smithsonian Traveling exhibit on Japanese war brides dealing with issues of race, migration, and women, addressing the question of “Who is an American?"
Kasmauski was awarded a Knight Fellowship in 2011, earning an M.A. at Ohio University. She has taught graduate and undergraduate photography, video storytelling, news writing, and science journalism at George Washington University, George Mason University, and the Corcoran School of Art. She has instructed at the Maine Media Workshops, George Washington University’s summer photojournalism workshop, as well the Girls Who Click program, which encourages young women interested in conservation photography. Kasmauski wrote a long-running column for now defunct Nikon Magazine, and regularly blogs on photography, life, food, and culture.