To Top

Meet Karen Reuter

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Reuter.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I started my photography journey when I was 18. Because I didn’t have money to attend a photography school, I decided to move to LA and contact all the photographers from the Creative Black Book (the Le Book of its time) whose work interested me. I told them I wanted to learn about photography and would work for free so that I could at least see what goes on in a commercial photography studio. Many outstanding photographers jumped at the chance to have free help! Within a few months, I knew enough to be paid as a second assistant. I was exposed (excuse the pun!) to many different types of photography; from advertising and lifestyle to celebrity portraits, tabletop product, food, and even architectural photography! Playboy Enterprises hired me to cover the Playboy Jazz festival, and many other events, and several of my images were published in their magazine. Because the money was MUCH better, I started styling for print shoots. I think a better title would be “Visual Coordinator” because I’d put together all the talent, wardrobe, props, sets and the production for commercial shoots with some of the best photographers in the world at that time! It was really exciting and I loved it! But I got off track! I wanted to be a photographer, yet I was orbiting around that goal and never really landing it.

Eventually, I married, moved to Orange County and started a family. I was very fortunate to be able to focus all my attention on raising my kids. This was simply the best!

When it was time to start making a living again, I decided to go into portraiture, as I felt it would be easier to get into than commercial photography would be. I love creating portraits! But the drawback is that it’s SO much harder to do! Think about it, I’m not working with models who know how to move, so I have to guide and encourage my subjects through every shot. Very few clients want to hire HMUA and never stylists, so I have to choose from what they bring to the shoot and make it work. There’s no budget for an experienced assistant, so I work mainly with interns or even have the mom’s hold lights and scrims on the HS senior shoots. Of course, there’s no Digi-Tech, so I do that as well, along with all the post-processing. So really, commercial advertising is a cinch compared to consumer portraiture! The payoff is that portraits are cherished and enjoyed for years. The drawback is that there’s not much money in it. Too many photographers are charging $250 for a 2-hour session, and then giving the whole collection of digital files to the client. There’s no way to make a living doing that! Believe me, I’ve crunched the numbers & I know! So now I’m working on building my commercial portfolio so that I can actually earn a living doing what I love; creating beautiful images!

Please tell us about your art.
I love creating beautiful images! I know that I’m supposed to find a niche and stick with it, but I just don’t want to limit myself to only one type of photography. At this time, I’m a portrait artist. I love working with HS seniors for the creative, fun, sometimes edgy images that we get to create. I love photographing babies, because, well, I just love babies and I never tire of looking at their beautiful faces while doing post! I love headshots because it’s a challenge to see how best to light each person’s face and pull genuine expressions from them. I love photographing kids because they’re so adorable and you never know what to expect from them! Families are the most difficult for me, which is precisely why I love photographing them! When I am able to grab images that show the true family dynamic, while making them all look fantastic, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, when I deliver the portraits to my clients and they smile from ear-ear and tear up a little bit, I know I’ve met my goal. Good portraits evoke emotion. When my clients say, “Oh my gosh, you totally captured our personalities in that one shot!” I feel such amazing joy! It’s almost as good as hearing “I love you” from my kids.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
The biggest challenge for artists today is probably the same challenge that every generation of artists have faced: making enough money to live on while they’re still alive!!

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My website is:
IG: @karenreuterportraits
FB: Karen Reuter Photography

I’d love to have people follow my Social media accounts and let me know what they like. Of course, if they like what they see and are looking for a portrait artist, I encourage them to give me a call!

My studio number is: 949-488-3144.

Contact Info:

  • Address: San Juan Capistrano, California
  • Website:
  • Phone: 949-488-3144
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @karenreuterportraits
  • Facebook: Karen Reuter Photography

Image Credit:

All photos by Karen Reuter. Fire Dancer: @rickyyybarnett

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in