Alumni Stories

Karen Beard

BFA 97 Photography and Imaging

“Girls today are inundated daily with imagery that is overtly or covertly sexist,” says Photography alumna Karen Beard. “They have not developed the skills to question the visual language that surrounds them. I wanted to do something about that as a mother, and I realized that I could.”

In 2012 Beard founded Shestock, a stock photography agency that offers compelling and visceral female-centric images created exclusively by professional women photographers. Early on in her career, Beard was drawn to the freedom that stock photography made possible. “Stock allowed me this open free space to create, to make mistakes, to evolve as a photographer—it gave me an outlet for that and a place to put the images. If they sold, that was great. If people passed, that was fine too.”

Now Beard dedicates her time to mentoring women photographers and curating images for Shestock. Her goal is to get women to look at their own lives and document them, sharing how they want to look and how they want to feel. Shestock’s latest project: building its industry-leading collection of women and girls portrayed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) environments to counter the persistent domination of male images in this realm.

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