Karin Retief is a seasoned photojournalist with over 35 years of experience. In her early days she worked as a news photographer, covering a wide range of events from gang violence to parliamentary sessions to sports. Her last full-time job was as chief photographer at The Cape Times, a daily newspaper where she had the privilege to meet her favourite person of all time – Nelson Mandela. 

As a freelance photojournalist, Karin has had the opportunity to travel extensively on assignments for leading magazines and NGOs. Her expertise lies in documenting human rights abuses, socio-economic struggles, subcultures and environmental protection. However, after being diagnosed with PTSD, she shifted her focus to lighter human-interest stories and launched the lifestyle magazine Life in Namibia, which is now available online. During this time she also published a coffee table book, Beyond Ochre: My Life with a Himba Family, chronicling the life of a Himba family she visited over a 10-year period.

At the beginning of this year Karin decided to sell her heavy photography equipment with the intention of buying lighter gear. However, before she could purchase her new equipment, she found herself on holiday in Mozambique – without a camera. It was then that she began experimenting with AI art, which fascinated her with its limitless possibilities. Suddenly, a new world opened up to her imagination. AI art offered her the freedom to create images without the constraints of photojournalistic rules, and she found it therapeutic, providing a sense of hope and calmness that she had not experienced before. 

With her newfound freedom to create images without any constraints, Karin dives into her dreams and experiences, often recreating images she has seen in real life but did not photograph, or dreams she has had. She also loves to experiment with crazy colours, settings and worlds that don’t exist, including people and animals. She always asks herself, “Does it make me happy?” She believes that the only criteria for AI art is to always state that it is AI-created, so that the viewer is not deceived into believing that it was created without any assistance. 

Karin sees AI art as a democratising force that allows anyone to participate in the creative arts, regardless of their background or formal education. It is an accessible technology that does not require expensive equipment: all you really need is the internet. Although some may criticize AI art for departing from traditional art forms, Karin views it as an exciting new frontier for artistic expression, with the potential to create new jobs and opportunities in the creative industry.

Among the many useful tools which AI technology offers is the fact that it can help individuals with dyslexia, autism, Down Syndrome and many other difficulties to express their creativity. With the use of AI-powered assistants and tools, people with disabilities can now overcome the barriers that they may have previously faced when trying to express their thoughts. This newfound freedom to express themselves can be empowering and transformative, opening up new opportunities for self-expression and communication through not just creating art but generating an income. 

Karin is originally from Cape Town but she considers herself Namibian, as she has lived in her adopted country longer than in her country of birth. She resides in Swakopmund with her spouse and two children. 

If you are interested in Karin’s artwork, it is available for purchase on her Instagram handle, karin_retief or Lightseeker_Art. Additionally, her lifestyle magazine, Life in Namibia, can be viewed on www.lifeinnamibia.com. If you would like to commission Karin for photojournalistic or digital artwork, you can contact her at +264 81 627 7692 or karin.retief.media@gmail.com.