A Candid Look Inside the Secretive World of the Ku Klux Klan


Over the years, photojournalist Anthony S. Karen has gained access to some of the most secretive groups in the world. From Skinheads, to the Westboro Baptist Church, to the Vodou societies of NYC and Haiti, he prides himself on earning his elusive subjects’ trust, and a candid look into their lives along with it.

One of his longest running projects involves photographing the modern-day Ku Klux Klan, resulting in photos that give us an intimate glance inside a world few ever get to see.

The series began in 2005, when Karen was allowed to attend and photograph a Klan event. The trust he gained at that and subsequent events eventually earned him unrestricted access. When asked in an interview with FotoEvidence how he managed to achieve this, he explained that in photojournalism, you get what you give:

I think a lot of the credibility I’ve earned stems from my basic philosophy that you need to give some of yourself in order to receive anything back. I spend time with people, I listen to what they have to say, and I treat each person as an individual. I don’t have to believe what they believe, but whenever I’m in someone’s space, I feel I’m obliged to observe without judgment.

Here are just a few of the many photographs he’s taken over the many-year-long project:





Members of a Louisiana based Ku Klux Klan realm joke around at t





Canidates wishing to become initiated into the Ku Klos Knights o

So far, his work documenting the KKK has led to two books — The Invisible Empire: Ku Klux Klan released in 2009 and White Pride released earlier this year — as well as the chance to work with the Discovery Channel on a documentary called KKK: Beneath The Hood.

To see more of Karen’s series on the Ku Klux Klan or browse through some of his other award-winning photojournalistic work, be sure to visit his website by clicking here.

(via Slate)

Image credits: Photographs by Anthony S. Karen and used with permission.

  • Vander

    Photo #2 on the far right: is that man black?


  • BDWT

    Anyone else notice that guy in the red hood, or the guy to the left in the very last photo? I don’t know if it’s my screen calibration but I feel like he’s out of place, no?

    All that aside, I understand how the photographer feels as if he is merely an observer at these kinds of events but some of the pictures speak for themselves. For me they (or this selection of curated images) paint a picture of how ignorant or ridiculous this culture is. Hanging flags out the car window, bearing guns in the house…. it’s nuts.

  • MarvinB7

    Interesting that he has gotten access. Disgusting subject.

  • Joe

    I don’t agree with the Klan at all.

    But if you think that hanging flags and keeping guns in the house is ridiculous, you might have a problem with a large portion of the American population.

  • Don Tusk

    That’s Clayton Bigsby. Black white supremacist :)

  • Rabi Abonour

    Amazing work getting access, but all the photos featured in this article are pretty amateurish, both technically and in content.

  • ken

    A bunch of dudes in white robes that have “secret meetings”. Hmmmmm I wonder what a bunch of dudes all do in private in secret meetings….

  • ken

    boy, you sure got a perty mouth….
    banjo music….

  • MT Nature Photographer

    Seems like the photographic equivalent of feeding trolls.

  • harumph

    I think that BDWT is referring to the shot of the man aiming his gun with his finger on the trigger inside his house. That’s most definitely ignorant.

  • rJulianz

    wondering the same thing !

  • Alison

    interesting that in one pic of the guy with the shotgun there is a Dora the Explorer item behind him

  • SiriusPhotog


  • SiriusPhotog

    It’s obvious the guy is just trying to take care of the giant cockroach on the white paper hanging on the wall. Just look where he’s aiming. That’s white supremacists pest control at its best! ;-)

  • Charles Cholmondly

    Ooh Missus!
    You Americans and dressing up.

  • Matthew Wagg

    Sounds like the guy’s a bit confused

  • Matthew Wagg

    Chinless, inbreeding morons.

  • Bristol

    Who’s the bigot?

  • Rnld

    This comment is complete bs.. What exactly makes these photo’s amateurish? Aesthetics are not whats important here, its called capturing reality.
    Whats even worse is the fact that 8 people actually agree with this statement.. blegh

  • GM

    Redneck heaven

  • BDWT

    I was referring specifically to the shot of the guy pointing the gun inside his house, with people in the room, that makes him look like a lunatic but while we’re on the topic, yes I do have an issue with the larger part of the pro-gun American population. But if you or other commenters happen to be one of those people that’s cool, I’m sorry, I don’t want to get into a debate with you guys about it, you have your beliefs and I have mine let’s leave it there and get back to talking about photography and images because that’s why we’re here!

  • BDWT

    I’m with you, what constitutes professional documentary photography? Does it have to be shot with a full frame camera, with super fast lenses opened up at their widest, or with off camera flashes sculpting the subject? No, it doesn’t need any of these things. Documentary photography, like documentary video, just needs to capture things as they happen. Some of the most iconic documentary photographs are from wars, or catastrophic events that have happened, and sometimes they’re not focused or framed very well but the photographer still captured the moment, which was the most important part. Fundamentally that’s what photography is all about, the rest can be meaningless if your moment or subject can speak for the entire image on their own.

  • Rabi Abonour

    Being “there” does not make photography good. Anyone allowed to be around these people with a camera could have made these pictures (and to be clear, the article has been edited to include a couple more interesting ones since I commented). These photos have a lot of small faces with boring expressions. I’m not getting anything from them. Again, the photographer deserves to be commended for getting the access. But Once you get it, you have to do something with it.

  • Rabi Abonour

    I’m with you on moments. Taking a picture of a scene is not capturing a moment. A moment is so much more fleeting than just a scene. These are interesting scenes, but I don’t think the moment is there.

    In a war or during a natural disaster, shooting is difficult, so we can forgive technical issues (though, these days, even in the most difficult situations people are making amazing images). But this was not a physically difficult situation to shoot. The images could have been much better.

  • califdemdreamer

    Awww, they want their Murikkka back.

  • Casey

    someone picking up a rifle to shoot a bug on the wall not a moment? A
    powerful photo story isn’t always about exclusively killer images.
    Furthermore, aren’t all photographs snapshots in essence? You seem
    pretty confident in your summations in regards to what is professional
    vs amateur, so I took a look at the stories you shot on your website – for example your projects on the K-9 Unit as well as all your work. I urge everyone to visit this persons site so you can see what capturing real moments are all about, lol.

  • Bruce Stovall

    you can’t have a supremacist organization without house “servants”