Excerpts from a conversation with Katerina Christina by Debbie Dickinson

Excerpts from a conversation with

Katerina Christina

by Debbie Dickinson

She is the future generation linesperson to watch.
“What year did you start photographing?”
I first picked up a camera in 2018 during my last year as a mechanical engineering student at Stanford. After so many years of hardcore engineering classes, I was craving both a mental break and a creative outlet. I decided to enroll in an Introduction to Photography class, where our final assignment was to create a cohesive body of work presented in the format of a small magazine.

This was the first time I had ever seriously considered elements of composition and their ability to either attract us to an image, or to leave us wanting more. I found that there were certain images I could look at time after time and still find interesting on some level, or even find something new to appreciate. I took mental notes on the kinds of compositions that continued to intrigue me over time and did my best to repeat that pattern yet still incorporate an element of experimentation.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love fashion, and especially shoes. I also love standing out, both in terms of my style and my height—although I’m 6’ you’ll often see me wearing booties or heels just because!
I wanted my first photographic series to incorporate both elements of my personality as well as serve as a daily journal to help me document these small moments of intrigue—to remind myself of the little joys in life despite all of the stress I was under at the time.
Drawing from these sources of influence, I photographed the same pair of shoes at different locations, from the perspective of the
wearer (me!)—from the parking lot at school to the lecture halls, to the beach on a weekend.
At the end of 2018, I planned a solo trip to Europe for a month as a graduation present to myself and that was really the first time I started thinking about street photography.
 Some of my favourite images to this day are photographs from that trip in places such as Rome, Paris, Monaco, and London—I love looking back at them to see where my mind was at that time, as well as how far I’ve come.
It wasn’t until the spring of 2019 that I really understood street photography and made a commitment to dedicate myself to it as an art form.
She is going to be exhibiting at the Solomon Arts Gallery on Dec 16th.
For further invitations contact edentpr@gmail.com

“Who was most instrumental that mentored or influenced your career and why?”

In the spring of 2019, I took a black and white photography class with Alan Schaller in San Francisco (where I was living at the time) which completely changed how I approached street photography. Because I am self-taught, I had very little direction up to that point—I had an idea of the kind of photographs I wanted to make based on other photographers’ images that inspired me, but I didn’t quite know how to manipulate my camera or the world around me to produce those images.

 

Alan taught us not only the technical details of making photographs with a Leica and post-processing the images in a way that produces elegant art, but more importantly he showed us the nuances of being a creative in the busy streets. He showed us how to take advantage of natural light and intriguing shadows, the patience required before and anticipation of the moment and how to cultivate an ability to turn a seemingly mundane scene into a beautiful intriguing work of art that continues to elicit emotion regardless of how many times you’ve stared at it.

“Tell us about notable awards and achievements from your career and life studies?”

Art awards and achievements below. Apart from these, the other achievements that I am most proud of are academic—getting accepted to Stanford University, graduating with a B.S. Mechanical
Engineering, and being accepted to the Master of Architecture program at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation where I will begin studying in the fall of 2021.
Interviews
The Phoblographer: “Shattered Glass” Highlights the Strength of These Incredible
Women
peri-Tēchnes: In Conversation with Katerina Christina
Features
Eyephoto Magazine
Eyeshot Magazine
Leica Camera
Leica Camera Thailand
Leica Camera India
Leica Camera Turkey
Leica Store SF
Leica Store DC
Leica Store LA
Leica Society
National Geographic: Your Shot
Saatchi Art: New This Week 7-6-20
Saatchi Art: Iconic Styles: B&W Photography
Saatchi Art: Artist of the Week
The Other Art Fair: Best of Photography
Artsper: Curator’s Recommendations
Monovisions Photography Awards: Honorable Mentions
Urban Street Photo Gallery
Women Street Photographers
Publications
National Geographic: Your Shot
The Phoblographer: These Photographers Achieve Great Results with the Leica M10
The Phoblographer: 20 Women Photographers to Inspire You Through 2020
The Phoblographer: 6 Cameras in the Hands of Popular Street Photographers
Street Photographers Foundation
Urban Street Photo Gallery
Eyeshot Magazine
BOOOOOOOM: The Emotion of a Line
BOOOOOOOM: Quiet Moments in the Chaos
BOOOOOOOM: Quarantined
Women Street Photographers
EYE Photo Magazine [print + web]
Eyeshot Magazine “The Mirror” [print + web]
Exhibitions
Street Foto SF [San Francisco, CA, USA | June 2019]
Women Street Photographers [New York City, NY, USA | December 2019]
Women Street Photographers [Chelyabinsk, Russia | August 2020]
Women Street Photographers [Trieste, Italy | October 2020]
Women Street Photographers [New York City, NY, USA | December 2020]
Feature Shoot [New York City, NY, USA | August 2020]
Feature Shoot [Athens, Greece | November 2020]
Art Fairs
The Other Art Fair [Brooklyn, NY, USA | July 2021]
Hamptons Fine Art Fair [Southampton, NY, USA | September 2021]
“What was the year that you began to start the art photography business and what outlet / exhibition?”

I made my first few sales in late 2019 and early 2020 (mainly through my website and IG connections ) so I haven’t been selling for very long; however, I’m very happy about how my art has been received in this short period of time. I also started selling on Saatchi in early 2020 and on Chairish in mid-2021. With respect to the relatively short amount of time, I have dedicated myself to art—just 2 or 3 years. I’m happy with how my practice has grown and am very excited to continue to produce new work, both photographs and drawings.

 

Street photography series:
• ‘Quiet Moments in the Chaos’
• ‘Youthhood’
• ‘Wild Things’
Studio photography series:
• ‘Desert Cowgirl’
• ‘A Study of Contours’
• ‘A Study of Movement’
Documentary series:
• ‘Shattered Glass’
• ‘The Hole in My Head’
Drawings series:
• ‘A Study of Form’
• ‘A Study of Hats’
• ‘The Sum of Us’
• ‘Finesse’
• ‘Embrace’

“Tell us about your favorite key subjects that you have photographed and why they interest you?”

The majority of my street photography work falls into the ‘Quiet Moments in the Chaos’ series— this body of work is all about extracting and capturing a serene moment happening in the presence of a chaotic city behind. A prime example of this is “A Moment of Peace” shot in Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where you see a young boy letting go and completely surrendering to nature as he lets the incoming waves crash over his body.
I see this as an incredibly peaceful moment, where nothing else matters and there is a willingness to let oneself be enveloped by the emotions of the moment and to put the stresses of daily life aside.
This series was born when I first started making photographs—at the time, street photography was a reprieve from the stress of my mechanical engineering studies. It was a way for me to enter a state of mind that was really a letting go of everything on my mind, and an absorption of the small yet beautiful moments in life that we often miss when we don’t take the time to slow down.

One of my other favorite subjects to photograph are kids, as you can see in my series ‘Youthhood.’ I truly believe we have a lot to learn from children! Their sense of wonder and lack of inhibitions are something to be admired—these sentiments and ways of approaching the world are what I capture with my images in this series. I hope both the subjects and the images can inspire viewers and collectors to live life a little more carefree and with a little more appreciation of the beauty that surrounds us.

Finally, the last key subject I find myself that photographing often is myself! During the first few weeks of lockdown in March of 2020, I was  without my usual subjects to photograph
as no one was out on the streets and of course it wasn’t safe to be out and about either. So, I decided to make use of the extra time that we all found ourselves with, also my love of fashion. I am a huge hat lover, so I thought what better chance to slow down, do some introspection, and make art in a way I had never explored.
 Unlike the years before, I was either in school or traveling around the world and things were in a frenzy. I had the time plan out photo shoots—to draw inspiration from some of the greats, especially in the fashion world. I reflect on the feelings of confinement and isolation I was sensing and to experiment. This was a whole new world for me because in street photography, you are essentially making art out of something that already exists. Yet in my studio work, I was creating something out of nothing. It was absolutely a challenge at first, but after a couple of hours of playing around with hats, outfits, and movement, I found it to be an absolute joy.

Studio work went from something challenging to something where I felt I had the ultimate sense of creative freedom, especially in my case doing self-portraiture. I find the process to be so liberating because it’s just me—no direction from anyone else, no judgment, and nothing to lose trying something new.

“When did you start shooting the Cowgirls of Color and give us a quote about one or two
of the photo shoots?”
The Cowgirls of Color were just one group that I shot as part of my series. ‘Shattered Glass’ tells the stories of women in male-dominated industries, giving fellow females the role models, exposure, and resources they need to break into these fields. All while unapologetically embracing their femininity.
Please see this interview I did that was published on The Phoblographer for an in-depth interview with various quotes from this project:
 “What is the vision for your company?”
I would love for my work to make its way into the homes of high-end collectors who see the beauty, value, and uniqueness of each piece and are interested in investing in, for example, the limited editions of 1 or 2 or the original drawings.
I would also love to have name recognition with luxury interior designers and for them to pull from my work for the homes and spaces they decorate.
Apart from these broad sales goals, I also would like to continue expanding my client base globally and locally, at high-end art fairs in NYC or other major cities around the world.
Of course, having my work exhibited in solo shows is also a goal.
Eventually, I would also like to publish a book (or two or three?!) with my photographs and drawings.
 “What is it about your business that motivates you?”
As detailed above, my business is my passion and what helps me decompress from the stresses of daily life and from my studies (now that will be architecture instead of mechanical engineering). I find myself especially motivated in my street photography when I am able to capture a moment of joy, bliss, or liberation that inspires viewers and collectors to slow down and see the beauty in the world around them. It is of course a huge honor when someone loves my work enough to invest in a piece for their home or collection—that is absolutely a motivating factor for me, and is always great feedback when I know what kind of works collectors want in their homes.
I’m also motivated personally—this is especially true in my studio photography—I get to explore my creative side without bounds.
As for my drawings, I am motivated to explore the human form, emotions within and between humans and to convey my take on such emotions.
“What exotic places have you traveled to capture your images?”
• Nairobi, Kenya
• Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
• Oaxaca, Mexico
• Paris, France
• Rome, Italy
• Cyprus
• London, England
 “What are two favorite success stories in your business?”
My first ever collector purchased ‘Love [Nairobi, Kenya]’ and told me they were “mesmerized by the emotion I managed to capture”. They were, “looking for photos that convey the love that we could frame and hang in our home. This photo of yours speaks to both of us very much”. As the first investment into my art practice, hearing this from a complete stranger halfway around the world really meant a lot to me.
 “Give us your most memorable quote from a buyer?”
Recently, I exhibited at the Hamptons Fine Art Fair which elevated my work to a whole new world of buyers and brought it to the caliber at which I want it to be.

“What’s a memorable quote from a collector or gallery owner?”
“I think her work is great!  I especially love the Elephants (Love- Nairobi, Kenya), The Hat (A Study of Contours #1), and The Dog (Bliss – Carmel-by-the-Sea). Etheleen Staley – Staley Wise Gallery
“What are some quotes and principles that have had major significance in your life?”
“To me, photography is an art of observation, it’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” Elliott Erwitt
This quote really hits home for me—not only because of the degree to which I find his work intriguing but also because that is exactly why I began making photographs: to find something striking in a seemingly mundane place.
Photography truly has changed the way I see the world. The way light unveils the details of a subject, how shadows hide parts of a scene to lend a sense of mystery or the way light and shadow play with each other to create beauty. That can only be seen if you know how and where to look for it. Photography has also shown me that capturing a fleeting glance, a gesture of the hands, or closing of the eyes, is so much more significant than we realize as ordinary passersby on the street.

More personally, the most influential principles and ways of thinking come from my father—an immigrant from Cyprus he has now been in the US for nearly 40 years and has started multiple companies that are his own. His philosophy has always been that the only limits in life are the ones that you place on yourself—he has always encouraged me to go after my dreams regardless of how feasible they may seem in the moment. Where there is a will, there truly is away. Anytime things seem to be taking a difficult turn, he will always remind me why the glass is half full and of everything I have overcome to get to where I am—and that is a huge source of inspiration for me.

 

“What are some sayings that have become your hallmark?”
“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.” (I believe this quote has been attributed to Albert Einstein and a few others).
Anyone who knows me knows that I have no shame in trying or attempting things that are unconventional, I mean, just look at the size of my hats and the height of my heels (I’m 6’ without heels)!
I absolutely love this saying and it fully captures how I live my life—both in thought and in action.
“Do you attend any specific industry trade shows or competitions?”
I exhibited in a solo booth at The Other Art Fair: Brooklyn and at the Hamptons Fine Art Fair recently.
“Who do you consider to be great mentors or icons in the art photography industry that inspire you?”
As mentioned above, the class I took with Alan Schaller was a big turning point in my photography. The images of photographers such as
Elliott Erwitt, Vivian Maier, Susan Sontag, Annie Leibovitz, Frank Horvat, and Irving Penn never cease to inspire me.
“Can you announce any of your future brand plans?”
I am planning to open some special, very limited editions of some of my photographs and a very limited run of photography prints on silver canvas. Also, as an extremely limited run on HD aluminum panels will be included. I haven’t decided on the numbers yet, but I may limit some of these editions to just 1 per size such that they will end up with a collector who is very enthusiastic about the work. In addition, I will be selling the originals of my drawings (up to this point, they have only been offered as print reproductions).

 

“What charities do you work with?”
I recently was featured at the Water Club for The Healing for Heros Charity.

About Katerina Christina / Contact edentpr@gmail.com – 917-622-8136


 

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