Chroma, motion & unexpected details are the prime motivators for me when creating an image. The obscure & the quirky are also sources of visual delight.

The unexpected flash of color on human skin that epitomizes 20th century body art became an obvious focal point for these reasons.

The adrenaline-driven chaos of extreme sports gives me an opportunity to capture a combination of passion, movement and unbridled energy.

Learning about others is another factor that pushed me into photography AND journalism.

Many of the images shown here transpired from the challenges of creating images for an erotica show at the Suspect Gallery in Seattle, Washington. Developing the concept of erotica demanded reflection on what was erotic, especially to subcultures that had formed a frequent focus for my visual explorations. Because of this, the themes of tantric eroticism and gender-bending came into play for this project.

The visual details of the Kama Sutra became a starting point for my portraiture of a young pagan pair.

Additionally, through my interaction with the gay & transgendered community, I had viewed numerous variations on gender themes, from girly boys to baby dykes to drag queens and transsexuals. With my camera, I captured this gleeful defiance of Western gender roles.

Color schemes in my work are the result of exploiting the existing possibilities of the scene, my gear and my film… at the moment of exposure, the image is fixed. One of my favorite toys is color infrared film.

My shooting style is definitely lo-tech… a Nikon N90, usually accompanied by a Tamron 35-105 lens. On location, a Nikon SB-25 flash allows for motion blurs and artistic effects as well as stark flash-lit shots. Available light is used for its unique effects… I love the strong shadows and burning tones of the desert as well as the haunting look of B/W infrared portraits captured in the forest.

I studied fine art photography with Terri Warpinski and Bobbi Wendel at University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts. In 1996, a Canon Emerging Professional Photographer Award allowed me to study with noted celebrity photographer Lynn Goldsmith at the Santa Fe Workshops.

My commercial client list encompasses the Seattle Weekly, Skin & Ink and an array of Seattle-area designers.
                      — Karen Johanson


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