Born and raised in Hong Kong, the daughter of an American journalist, San Francisco-based photographer Catherine Karnow is known for her vibrant, emotional, and sensitive style of photographing people.
She studied photography in high school and graduated from Brown University with honors degrees in comparative literature and semiotics. After a brief career as a filmmaker—her film Brooklyn Bridge premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 1984—she turned her attention to photography full-time in 1986.
Karnow has covered Australian Aborigines, Bombay film stars, victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, Connecticut high society, and an Albanian farm family. In 1994, she was the only non-Vietnamese photojournalist to accompany General Giap on his historic first return to the forest encampment in the northern Vietnam highlands from which he plotted the battle of Dien Bien Phu. She also gained unprecedented access to Britain's Prince Charles for her 2006 National Geographic feature, "Not Your Typical Radical."
Karnow's work appears in National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, French and German GEO, and other international publications. She has also participated in several Day in the Life series, Passage to Vietnam, and Women in the Material World.