Nature’s lens

Photography exhibit
chronicles Koehler’s life and work

She onced worked as
photographer for the Courier-Journal

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(September 2008) – At age 11, Marion Klein Koehler climbed into her father’s lap with a camera and said, “Papa, show me how it works.” Since that time, Koehler has been snapping shots that have earned her a lengthy career in a field she has been zealous about her entire life.

Marion Klein Koehler

Photo by Helen McKinney

Koehler, daughter
of internationally
known nurseryman
Theodore Klein, draws inspiration for her photographs from
nature and her

Koehler, 78, began her fascination with photography at an early age when her father, internationally known nurseryman Theodore Klein, purchased a camera for her. As the oldest of four children, she began taking pictures of her baby brother. When her parents added another brother and sister to their family, she had ample subject material from which to choose.
Not only did she pose her siblings in front of her camera, but Klein also had a vast natural setting in which to practice. Growing up at the family home that is now known as Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood, Koehler drew inspiration from nature.
“I was always surrounded by flowers and trees,” she said, and “frogs and crickets at night.”
“People and Places Through the Lens of Marion Klein Koehler” is the title of an exhibit coming to the Oldham County History Center from Sept. 2 to Dec. 31. The center is located at 106 N. Second Ave., La Grange, Ky.
This exhibit is divided into various themes surrounding Koehler’s life and work. These include travel, pets, commercial work and children’s portraits.
Koehler’s love of children and horticulture are what bring life to her photographs. “I love catching people” on film, she said. “I love the moment when you can see what’s going on in their head, and see it in their eyes.”
Her grandfather Klein and her uncles all dabbled in photography as a hobby. Koehler’s mother, Martha Lee Klein, let her take art lessons when she was in the fourth grade to further her interest behind the lens.
She was lucky enough to travel after graduating from college, and the sights she experienced further enhanced the presentation of her photography. “I love to travel,” said Koehler over her oversees travels.
Having studied art and design, this adventure of seeing the world at a young age impressed upon her the beauty of great works of art. She ended up spending six months abroad instead of the planned one summer.
One of her favorite places to visit was Italy. Just seeing such magnificent works as the Sistine Chapel and other artistic masterpieces gave her a sense of awe. “I could just feel the vibes,” still emanating from those works, she said.
Back home, Koehler worked for the Louisville Courier-Journal as a staff photographer from 1956-1957. At the time, “there were 14 men on staff and one girl. I was the one girl,” said Koehler.
She said she enjoyed her job with the newspaper, and her career took her in the direction of photography for promotional advertising.
Koehler still does portrait commissions and often uses children in her work for advertisements. She is well known locally for photographing children for Clore and Duncan Real Estate ads.
Her favorite subject matter will always be “children in a garden setting,” said Koehler. Her goal is to make a child’s photograph interesting to someone besides their parents.
As a free-lance photographer, Koehler’s services have been employed by Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Kentucky Educational Television and various other organizations. Koehler has become best known over the years for her children and family portraits. For her, photography “is my love.”
Also included in the History Center exhibit are “Unknown Faces and Places of Oldham County,” photographs from the History Center’s private collection.

• For more information, call the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.

Back to September 2008 Articles.



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