Featured Artist: Christine Kapuschinsky

I won't lie:  I'm totally fan-girl'ing over today's featured artist.  Christine Kapuschinsky is a fine art photographer with total "WOW!" factor.  I've been drooling for ages over her dramatic, emotive black and white work -- and after today, if you've not already heard of her, you too will have an art crush of your own.

Hey, Christine!  Tell us all about yourself.

Hi! Thanks for the opportunity. My name is Christine and I'm the artist behind Kapuschinsky. I chose to use my maiden name for my art as a way to pay homage to my father for sparking my love for photography when I was still a child.
I am a wife, a mother. a homemaker and a teacher. I married my best friend back in 2004 at the ripe old age of 18. My husband likes to joke that he hooked me before anybody else could. I literally turned 19 twelve days after the wedding. Our 13 year anniversary is actually the 17th of this month. Since getting married, we've traveled across the country and back twice, and now reside in Northeast Pennsylvania with our four children- 2 boys and two girls, ages 8, 6, 4 and 16 months. We home school, so the majority of my time is currently spent teaching, correcting homework and lesson planning, all while attempting to maintain the sanity and order of the house, make dinner and continually take my Houdini of a baby down from some sort of precarious high point. But life is good:) Aside from photography, I enjoy anything outdoors- camping, hiking, fishing, exploring the woods and fields that surround the outskirts of town, and anything pertaining to plants and gardening. I also enjoy building dollhouse furniture and model rockets. I've passed that latter interest onto my kids, the eldest in particular, as he loves anything pertaining to aviation, whether it be building planes, flying kites, or shooting off rockets into the sky. I've played the clarinet since I was eight, and performed with the local Philharmonic Orchestra throughout high school and college. I also like to collect shot glasses from around the world, and write when I have the time. I guess I'm kind of all over the place!

Tell me about your art.  What do you do?  What is/are the medium/media you use?  What is your artistic process?

Since photography is just another expression of my artwork, my imagery often reflects how I used to draw. Monochrome is my new charcoal. Painterly colors are my pastels. Although I predominately work in black and white, I don't like to box myself into one category or another, because I dislike the constraints of doing the same thing over and over again. To me, it's lackluster, it's mundane, it's too ordinary. Picasso once said, "Style is often something that ties the artist down and makes him look at things in one particular way, the same technique, the same formulas, year after year, sometimes for a whole lifetime...I can never be tied down, and that is why I have no style." I can relate to that, being one to jump around instead of sticking to the same subject or edit. That's one of the reasons why I hand edit everything, instead of using presets or actions. It guarantees one piece will never have an identical appearance to another. That's also why sometimes my work is raw and real, other times dreamy and surreal, while still others abstract or even painterly. Instead of going for a particular "look", I prefer to go for a particular outcome: pure emotion.

Everyone wants to know:  where do you get your ideas?  What fuels your passion?  Are there other artists who inspire you?

Where do I get my ideas? Hah! I have no idea. I just like to take pictures. It's always fun to see an image as it slowly transforms from straight out of camera to the finished product, and watch my vision as it unravels and changes along the way. Sometimes my pictures come out the way I intended, but other times they don't at all. Granted, I generally shoot for black and white, so there are specific components I look for that I know work well in monochrome- interesting patterns and textures, dramatic light, deep shadows, strong lines, sublime curves. Even when my work doesn't end up the way I thought it would, I just kind of roll with it. And if I hit a wall and can't figure out where I'm going with it, I'll just shelve it for a day, a week, sometimes even months, until I can get it to come together. Regardless of the finished piece, my end goal is still the same- I want my work to strike a chord with the viewer. I want them to look at life in ways they may not have before. I want it to speak to their soul. Honestly, I don't closely follow a lot of photographers, as I prefer to study and appreciate a wide range of imagery and art as a whole, but one that I've admired for quite a while is Hengki Koentjoro. He's the only modern day monochromatic fine artist to make a lasting impression on me. I also have huge respect for Marius Vieth and his unique approach of capturing street photography.

What are your "credentials"?  Do you have a degree or specialized experience doing what you do?  How did you get your start?

I have no academic credentials, but art runs in my family. My father is an artist, and I recently found out that his father loved photography as well. I am completely self taught. All the stuff I learned was from many years of drawing, observing other's work, perusing through numerous tutorials, and trial and error. As a kid, I would often tinker around with my dad's Minolta X-700, photographing everything from my pets, to my potted green beans, to the clouds. I took pictures of everything. Even in college, I was always the one at the party walking around with a disposable camera. I've still got a shoe box of all the photos. Talk about memories! Nevertheless, I didn't really get serious about photography until I purchased my first DSLR close to 4 years ago. I have always been an artist, and up until then I spent any of my downtime drawing- mostly with charcoals, water color crayons and oil pastels. But once my kids were born, I no longer had the adequate time and attention to devote to drawing, so photography inadvertently became my new artistic outlet.

What makes you excited to "go to work" each day?  What are the specific challenges in your field or expertise?

What makes me excited to "go to work" each day? Which job, mother or artist?;) I find the best way to keep my passion for photography alive is to not overdo it, not to over analyze, or compare myself to others, and see how they're getting ahead quicker than I. That just sets me up to become discouraged and burned out. I also limit the amount of sessions I book a year so that I don't make more work than I can reasonably handle. My first job is here at the home. These kids are going to be grown up and on their own in the blink of an eye. I don't want to look back and realize I missed so much of their childhood because I was too obsessed with advancing my career. Granted, if I was put in a situation where I needed to be the "breadwinner" this would be a whole different ballgame, but I've been blessed with a very hard working husband so I don't need to worry about that. One of the biggest challenges I've found so far is that I've come to the point where I've "outgrown" my camera. I spend lots of time fixing things in photographs that I know wouldn't have been an issue if I had a camera with better IQ and high ISO performance. Thankfully, this has recently changed, as I have acquired a pro level full frame, so after shooting for the last 3 years with a semi pro APS-C DSLR, I think this is really going to be a game changer.

Who is your ideal client?  What kind of product is this client looking for?  What does she need or want from you?

My ideal client is the one that loves and appreciates my work for what it is and puts all their faith in my judgement of the outcome of their images. I'm also not a fan of bargain shoppers. The interesting thing I've found is that the most grateful and satisfied clients I've ever had are the ones where price wasn't an issue, and they came to me because they've seen my work and fully rely that I can deliver.

Do you incorporate any spiritual practices in your daily life?  What keeps you sane?  Favorite comfort food or hot beverage?  What is your "center"?  What is your higher purpose or calling?

God is my sanity. Second, my husband. He is my polar opposite, the level headed, optimistic, rational one. I need that balance. Third, coffee. Seriously;) A higher purpose in my work? Well firstly, I recognize and acknowledge that any talent I have is given to me by God, and I respect that he could take it away at any moment if He wanted. I want to use my abilities wisely and honor Him with what I produce. I want it to point back to Him. I like to create work that makes you think beyond the tangible present, makes you think about life. I want it to move you.

Can you give us one to three "random facts" or juicy tidbits about yourself?  Have a funny experience to share?

Okay, here's something funny about the kids. None of our children were "planned", per se, but the first three are exactly 2 years apart, and have birthdays literally days from each other- Oct 29th, Oct 30th, and Nov.1st. Each one managed to miss Halloween. As for the baby, well, she broke the cycle. Haha!
I took the most incredible trip across the country by train early on in our marriage when we moved to the West Coast for the first time. I left Pittsburgh, stopped in Chicago, headed down to Kansas City and the Midwest, then to Colorado, New Mexico, and lastly curved up to Southern California. It was the first major trip I had never done solo and it was exhilarating. Seeing the terrain and weather change along the way was fascinating. Everything went well until we hit Kansas. There, in the middle of nowhere, in the blackest of night, the train struck something that was lying on the track, which then got thrown up under the dining car, and shorted it out. We were broke down for hours, the nearest civilization miles away. It was slightly terrifying, kind of one of those scenarios where your imagination goes wild and before you know it, Freddy is stepping out of the field and coming straight toward you. When another locomotive finally arrived, they swapped out the dining car with the caboose and we eventually went on our way. But the accident was actually a blessing in disguise. Since we no longer had a properly working dining car, there was no way to feed us, so Amtrak made up for it by giving us free meals at every major stop, and I ended up saving lots of money.
[And] here's something crazy from college. My friends and I used to be obsessed with everything paranormal, and growing up in this absurdly dark and peculiar coal mining region, we had our fair share of it. Well, there's this granite stone couch that randomly sits alongside a wooded, winding back road just outside the old coal mining patch town of Eckley. All kinds of rumors circulate this accursed couch, but every one of them draws the same conclusion: never sit on it, or tragedy will strike. Well, being young, dumb, and reckless, my friend and I threw caution to the wind in the middle of one crisp autumn night and proudly situated ourselves on it, our confident, carefree faces smiling at the camera for a picture. The next evening as I left work, doing about 50 down a quiet, forested state route that I always traversed, casually chatting away on my cell to a friend, a rock about the size of a softball fell out of the sky from straight above my car and hit the windshield with such force it cracked the entire thing. The only reason it didn't crash through the glass was because it hit right where the rear view mirror attached so that took the brunt of the blow and sent it flying to the back seat. The windshield was destroyed. I pulled over at the nearest lit spot which was a gas station about a quarter mile down the road. One of the security officers from my place of employment happened to be there, saw the car, heard what happened,and could only utter some choice expletive phrases over and over again in complete disbelief. Of course I had to get a new windshield, but here's the clincher: I had just replaced it the week before for a separate incident. Car- 2, Me- 0. My younger years were full of lots of stupidity and rash decisions, but I stopped tempting fate after that day.

Where can we find your business online?

I'm on a lot of different social networking platforms, but the ones I frequent the most are Facebook, Instagram as @kapuschinsky, Flickr, Viewbug, 500px, and my website: www.kapuschinsky.com

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