The Christy Karpinski Mixtape
Looooong ago, when I was early in my photography career, I discovered F-Stop Magazine (celebrating their 20th Anniversary this year!). I was always so excited to get a photograph in one of their exhibitions and feel part of a community. When I started Lenscratch, Christy Karpinski was one of the few women in a landscape filled with a lot of male bloggers/editors who were not exactly welcoming. It was wonderful to have her as a sounding board and friend. Christy is a masterful photographer in her own right but has also dedicated the last two decades to supporting our community. Huge congratulations to her for her 20- year efforts in creating such a meaningful platform for photography. Today, we learn more about Christy and her road to success with The Christy Karpinski Mixtape!
F-Stop Magazine is an online photography magazine featuring contemporary fine art & documentary photography from established and emerging photographers from around the world. Each issue has a theme or an idea that the unites the photographs to create a dynamic dialogue among the artists. Founded in 2003 and published online, bi-monthly.
I grew up in Arizona. I am a 5th generation Arizonan. I love the desert, I love the heat and being outside and the huge starry sky. Here is my great grandmother on a motorcycle on Speedway in Tucson.
I have always loved art making, as far back as I can remember. My mom was always making things, which probably was a big influence. She made jewelry, clothing, Halloween costumes, illustrations, macrame plant hangers, etc. Every chance I got to take art classes I did.
My earliest memories of photography are of looking through the family photo albums my mom put together. She often wrote notes on the bottom of the images that I loved to read/have read to me. I enjoyed the repetition of going through the pages, being told the stories and the captions, and learning the names of relatives I didn’t see often. It is interesting to me that a family album sort of teaches you about yourself and where or how you fit into things, and how much time and care my mom put into making them. I am also fascinated by childhood memories that are maybe actually just pictures I have seen more than they are a memory, and of pictures that evoke sensory memories when I see them from moments you otherwise have no memory of at all.
I think this may be the first photograph I ever took, I remember being excited to get to use the camera. It’s a picture of my brother on my grandparents back porch. I like the pole going down the middle and the bike tire poking in from the right.
Later in highschool I was able to take photography classes. I absolutely loved printing in the darkroom. Most of my friends were in these classes too. Our teacher was really supportive of whatever we wanted to do and let us explore different processes and techniques. We called her “mom”.
My interest in making magazines started around second grade. The magazines I made would typically include made up news stories, events from my life, plagiarized comics, crossword puzzles and pretend advertisements. Then I would get my dad to make copies at his office and hand them out to anyone in the neighborhood I get to take one.
I continued making photographs after high school on and off, mostly photographing the kids I was a nanny for. By the early 2000s I decided to pursue photography in a focused way and I spent a summer at the Maine Photographic Workshops. Part of my time there was in a class with Ann Jastrab, who is a great teacher! She inspired me in my work and I learned so much about process and became a much better printer. This and some time at a community darkroom in Minneapolis got me interested in art communities where you can learn and support each other. It seemed to me at the time that I would need an art credential to be able to pursue that kind of work, which is how I ended up going to graduate school for an MFA at Columbia College Chicago.
I started F-Stop while I was in graduate school out of a desire to see what other art making photographers were doing. At the time, it seemed like the only place to see work was in galleries or books and that seemed limited.
After graduate school, I did editorial work for a while and I taught photography and web design classes.
What is your title and job description and tell us about a typical day?
My job title with F-Stop is editor. My typical day is mostly taken up with my day job, with an hour or so spent going through F-Stop email and posting things to the blog. When it comes time to put together an issue of the magazine, it takes 3 or 4 days of work, most of that is spent on reviewing submitted images. These days we get two to three thousand images submitted for a single issue and have to get that down to around 200 to include. It is not easy!
What are some of your proudest achievements?
I think really, the answer to this is just to have kept on going with the magazine for this long – to have been able to highlight and share so many photographers and their work for so long. It has been cool to be able to see photographers grow and find various successes over time after having first met them and their work by including them in an issue of F-Stop.
What are your goals for F-Stop Magazine?
When I started F-Stop I had all kinds of ideas and plans, mostly around publishing the magazine in print, publishing books and doing IRL exhibitions. But, turns out, those things take a lot more time and money than I have had. So I have instead just focused on creating a bimonthly issue consistently. Being able to include book reviews regularly has been a nice addition. That started about 10 years ago and there have been a number of people writing these over the years, with Cary Benbow writing for the last 7 years and Walter Borghisini being the most recent addition and writing about exhibitions in Italy.
I think as long as it continues to be of interest and helpful to photographers, my goal is to keep on with it. But I am also open to new possibilities!
Any advice for photographers wanting to elevate their practice?
One thing that I think generally is helpful with project based photography is to spend a good amount of time with your project before you share it as finished. With digital it can be so inexpensive, quick and easy to get images out into the world, and this is such a great thing! But I think it also tends to mean people don’t spend as much time with their work or never see it off the screen as a print before completing it. I know I tend to do this myself. I think reviewing the work, shooting more or reshooting an idea, making work prints and editing are all very helpful to making a project stronger. I think another aspect of this is project statements. I sometimes find project statements that are well written and engaging but seem completely unrelated to what is in the photographs. Maybe that is a sign the work is not there yet or maybe the project statement is not quite what the work is about.
Consider using titles or captions for individual images. When your work is outside the context of your website or portfolio – like in a group exhibition on F-Stop – a title can provide meaningful context and understanding of your image.
What is something unexpected that we don’t know about you?
I am going with, “here are some random things about me… ” for this one. My favorite food (since before I can even remember) is a Sonoran style bean burro. I would eat this daily if I could. In 1987 when U2 was in Tempe filming, I met Bono and we talked about cacti. Last year in a cleaning frenzy motivated by thinking about what happens to my things when I die, I shredded all my journals and started turning them into handmade paper.
And since this is a Mixtape, what is your favorite song, band, and do you dance?
I think I have always been a bit too self conscious to really dance anywhere other than around my living room, but I do enjoy doing that!
As for my favorite song or band, I don’t think I can come up with just one, so instead I am sharing a favorite mixtape. It is from the early 1990s, made by my friend Katey.
As of August this year, F-Stop Magazine has been going for 20 years! As a way of celebrating I emailed past featured photographers and asked them to share their thoughts and reflections on their work and photography. I asked them to consider how their photographic work has changed over time, how the changes in photography over the past 20 years may have affected or influenced that change, and to share what they are up to most recently. It has resulted in a series of blog posts that I have really enjoyed reading and sharing.
See the posts here: https://www.fstopmagazine.com/blog/tag/f-stop20th/
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
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