Submitted photo: Annie Kristal
Six years is a long time. It’s the same number of years that you spent at your elementary school. It’s about as long as it would take to get to Mercury. And it’s as long as senior Annie Kristal has been perfecting her photography.
“I started when I was younger… a lot younger. I bought my camera after my Bat Mitzvah because I had money to go buy it and I actually took classes where I bought my camera,” Kristal said.
Her fascination with the medium grew from there.
“I just started taking pictures whenever I had the opportunity, if I was traveling, or taking pictures of my family,” she said.
Kristal’s interest in travel photography has led to some of her favorite projects.
“When I went to Cuba with the school and with Señor Castellanos, I did street photography there and that’s still my favorite project just because it was so cool to be there and experience a new culture and capture that culture,” Kristal said.
Although street photography is her preferred subject, Kristal has also found ways to use photography as a means of empowering people.
“Recently I’ve been doing senior pictures. My favorite thing about that is showing people their pictures afterwards because usually before, they’re like ‘this isn’t going to look good, I’m not a natural poser’ or whatever, and then they see them afterward and they’re really happy with them and they’re always surprised. That’s really sweet and makes me feel good that I’m able to do that for someone else and make them feel good about themselves,” Kristal said.
She has also used her medium to confront issues in the way that photography – and especially editing – are often used in magazines and advertising.
“I was frustrated by this because the media portrays to viewers unrealistic body and facial standards, which can cause body confidence issues. I saw my friends and even myself looking at these incredibly skinny women with clear faces and wanting to look just like them, when in reality they don’t even look like that in real life. I wanted to show my peers that we can look that way the same way celebrities do – with photoshop, which isn’t reality,” Kristal said.
She did this by creating diptychs showcasing both the real people she was photographing and how they could be altered using photoshop.
“I took portraits of people using the Huss white walls and split up their face into two sections, one of them – most of them didn’t have any makeup on, so makeup-free, and then the other section I would edit the shape of their face to what was standard or whatever people assume, like how you see in magazines and stuff, because I learned how to do that. So I did a lot of adding makeup, making people’s eyes bigger, having sharp cheekbones, and all that stuff, and then I did a few with body image so taking pictures of people’s full bodies and then editing them to how magazines do it,” Kristal said.
Although she learned how to alter people’s faces and bodies early on in her photography career, she hopes that this practice becomes less common.
“I don’t like having that skill but I do have it,” she said.
As opposed to the heavy photoshopping often seen in magazines, Kristal’s favorite subjects are usually candid.
“I really like [being] able to capture everyday life without it being posed or like a shoot and kind of showing that natural side to life,” she said.
Kristal will be showcasing some new pieces in the winter show in Drake Gallery, opening on Jan. 8, 2019.
For more information, take a look at Kristal’s portfolio.
Photos reprinted with permission: Annie Kristal
Originally published in the November 2018 edition of The Rubicon.