Keren Su was born in the picturesque coastal city Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province in China. During the disastrous Cultural Revolution, he was separated from his family and sent to a distant labor camp in China's northeast region.
After returning from the fields at the end of this period, Keren continued with his education and graduated from the Hangzhou Teacher's Institute in 1981. He set out to cross China on a bicycle, beginning in Hangzhou and ending 68 days later in Urumqi in Xinjiang Province. His solo trip carried him 2600 kilometers, through eight provinces and autonomous regions. The journey was an education in itself. Along the way he met bee keepers, cotton bluffers and boat rowers, sipped sweet wine with northern Shanxi farmers in the field, ate potatoes with Gansu peasants in a cave and drank yak butter tea with Tibetans in a felt yurt on the Qinghai plateau. He took photographs, sketched pictures, recorded conversations and wrote poems. “China Pictorial", the most influential color magazine at that time, covered his accomplishments in its 12th issue of 1982.
After his bicycle adventure, China’s newly formed Mountaineering Association recruited him. In the following 7 years, he guided many trekking and climbing teams to Mt. Everest, K2, the Pamir Plateau and many remote areas in China. Because of his extensive mountaineering experience, Keren was named coordinator and worked for the 1990 Peace Expedition to Mt. Everest. Comprised of mountain climbers from the United States, the Soviet Union and China, this was the first international expedition to Mt. Everest for those three countries. On less rigorous adventures, Keren guided many photographers and people to remote areas of China.
While some might be content to stay in place after the bicycle adventure, Keren’s trip nourished the adventure in him. In 1985, he traveled over 20,000 kilometers around China on a motorcycle, entering regions so remote that many of the inhabitants had never before seen mechanized means of transportation.
During the summer of 1987, Keren organized and headed die first rafting expedition down the world’s longest interior river, the Tarim. With characteristic ingenuity, he fabricated rafts for the adventure from gigantic liner tubes lashed together with hand-braided plastic rope. Their progress was followed closely by the news media including “People’s Daily” and Keren and his team became heroes among the Chinese.
Like most traditional Chinese educated families, Keren practiced calligraphy and painting since he was a young child. Later on, Keren created his unique style by combining modern and traditional Chinese brush painting techniques. He had his paintings shown on the east coast and the west coast of the US. His works were even shown in Seattle Frye Art Museum, which was the first time for a living artist to show his works.
In the last 30 years, Keren took pictures from the Antarctica to the North Pole, from east Asia to west Africa. His major works cover a wide variety of subjects, including nature, wildlife, landscape, urban scene and different tribes of people with unique cultures around the world. His works have appeared in many mainstream media and publications. Keren's accomplishments of photography and painting and his adventurous life story have been featured by “National Geographic”, “Good Moring American”, “Washington Post”, “GEO”, “Tokyo News”, “Forbes”, “Smithsonian” and many other major media around the world. He is currently a partner of Getty Images which is the world's leading stock agency.
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Keren is also a collector who loves Chinese culture and art. In the past twenty years, he created three boutique lodges in the most scenic spots of Guilin area forming a golden ring route. To decorate these three lodges, he used hundreds of pieces from his personal collection including antique furniture, wood carving, porcelain ware, embroidery pieces and etc. You can also find his photography work and paintings from an illustrious career of more than four decades. Keren has been invited to give slide shows as a special guest at many events to share his photography tips and travel stories with art lovers. He welcomes you to stay at his three lodges. His photography work can be seen at www.kerensu.com.
Currently he lives in the Seattle area where he devotes his time to photography, painting and putting together his “special tours” to China and other photogenic destinations around the world. As the founder of China Span, in 1990, he worked on the board of Peace Expedition to Mt. Everest with Americans, Soviets and Tibetans. He went to China very often for taking pictures all along the roof of the world on the Himalayas, Pamir Plateau and ‘Silk Road” and all places in remote area of China. In 1993, he was very successful in having the first American team hike along the Great Wall in China. Keren has become a world traveler. He has led trips or traveled on his own to over 120 countries in all seven continents.