Q. How did you find out about getting a gold medal? What was your first reaction?
A. I wish I could say I was hitting the refresh button constantly on the night of judging, but the truth is my friends began texting me upon their discovery that I had earned a gold metal. When I first found out about earning gold, I was completely speechless. All of the entries my photos were up against were so good, and the other photographers are so talented, so it was mind-blowing to be up there along side of them, let alone earn gold.
Q. Can you tell us something about making the winning photos?
A. When I set out to do that project, the woman and her children that the story was about inspired me. I couldn’t imagine her strength in being a single mother of three with an autistic child, and what it would be like to finally be able to leave public housing. My goal throughout the project wasn’t necessarily to win, but to tell her story the best I could in documenting the incredible change this family was going through. It meant so much to me to have captured the moment of their lives when they entered their new home, let alone lives, for the first time. I was truly humbled in being a part of their experience, even just for an incredibly small fraction of their lives.
Q. How did you first get into photography?
A. Photography was always a hobby of mine. I remember my parents buying me disposable cameras for me to take photographs when I was a child, and then I got my first film camera in high school and learned how to develop film. It was never something I ever felt I could do professionally until college. When I started college, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I missed the all of the time I spent in high school photographing with my film camera. It was then I transferred during my freshman year of college to Kent State from Miami to pursue a photojournalism degree. I truly love what I have come to learn to do, and now it is all I can see myself doing professionally.
Q. Who are some photographers who especially inspire you, and why do you admire them?
A. I wouldn’t say there is any one specific photographer I admire. I admire many professionals in the field, my teachers and classmates. Their work keeps me going, and makes me strive to become a better photographer.
Q. Any tips for other college photographers?
A. I was once told by one of my teachers in college that there would be a moment when things just “click” and start making sense. At the time, it just seemed like that was impossible. I believe that the moment he was referring to occurs at a different point for everyone. And I guess before that happens, you can truly feel lost, as I did. When I was in my first two years of college, I truly struggled, and had so many problems with story-development and relating what I wanted to say through a limited series of images. Although I still have so much to learn about the craft, I feel as though things began to make sense during my junior year of college. It really took finding something I cared about to find my voice in photography, and to not feel so lost. I would advise other college photographers to keep shooting, despite how discouraging judging and critiques can be. And one thing I always try to remember while I am shooting, is that I need to find a reason for why I am taking pictures of something so I can make others care about what I am saying through my work. At the end of the day, an image will stay with whomever sees it, and what they take away from it is your choice to a certain extent.
To see more of Kristin’s work, click here.
Interview by Leah Beane and Hany Hawasly