Interview with photojournalist Christine Pearl

Interview with photojournalist Christine Pearl


After 25 years as a project manager in the design and construction industry Christine picked up a camera in 2010 as a way to face the onset of her disability and accompanying limited mobility. Christine’s passion for photography is her physical therapy. She utilizes her experience working with the design process and interaction with people as a starting point to make photographic images. She is an emerging photographer who’s photo essay Last Car Running was featured in the April 2013 issue of Photo Technique Magazine’s UNDEREXPOSED, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale Projections Program in August 2013 and the September 2014 issue of Don’t Take Pictures. Recent awards include selection by Washington Project for the Arts annual competition for under represented artists solo exhibition at Hillyer Arts in Washington, DC November 2014, Houston Center of Photography 32nd Annual Juried Members Exhibition, Juror’s Choice Award
for the Contrast Exhibition at PH21 Gallery in Budapest, Hungary and online gallery for the Griffin Museum of Photography 20th Annual Member Exhibition in Winchester, Massachusettes. Christine lives in Washington, DC.

© Christine Pearl 01_Slam

© Christine Pearl

1. How and when did you become interested in photography?

At 50 I developed a neurological condition affecting my mobility and balance. When faced with learning to walk again, I resisted using a walker. The only way I could face the world pushing a walker was to have a distraction, so I picked up a point and shoot camera 2010. Today the camera is the tool I use to face my disability and photography the way to escape from it. I’ve always been creative, so transitioning to photography as my creative outlet has been a natural process for me. Initially I used the camera to hide behind out of fear of facing the world as a disabled person. That fear has evolved into feeling a connection to my surroundings with purpose through my photography. Overcoming the fear of my physical challenges has been liberating and given me the courage to embrace my creativity. When making photographic images I use memory and my imagination, which I once took for granted, with a new freedom.

2. Is there any artist/photographer who inspired your art?

I spent the winter of 2011 in Oaxaca, Mexico and enrolled in Mary Ellen Mark’s Oaxaca 2 week Workshop. Although I was very much a beginner, with physical limitations, I was pushed to take my photography to the next level, like everyone else in the workshop. Mary Ellen’s insight to my strengths combined with keeping up with her work ethic changed how I approach making photographs. I’ve always admired her work and spending time with her was a life changing experience.

3. Why do you work in black and white rather than color?

I love photographs of people and portraits, and I especially like black and white photographic portraits. Selecting black and white for this subject matter was an aesthetic one to add to the drama of the event. I’m not apposed to color, I feel most of the subject matter I’ve photographed to date looks better in black and white.

4. How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph/series of photographs?

It depends on what I’m photographing. If I’m going out to an event to take a street approach very little. For a project like “Last Car Running” I spend countless hours researching the sport online to understand the history, the people who participate in the event and where the derbies take place. I’m constantly looking at similar projects to see what pulls them together as a cohesive series or story.

I’m naturally drawn to people, they’re the starting point for my work. A photograph is a relationship and for me you can’t have such a relationship without people. I just finished shooting my third season of “Last Car Running.” This year I put up a “Last Car Running” Facebook page. I post photographs made with both a camera and iPhone and list the derbies I’ll be attending. This page is not intended to be a portfolio or exhibit of edited work, but rather a forum to begin a dialog within the community and give something back to the subjects of the project. What is amazing and fun to see is how far reaching Facebook has been with over 2,800 fans in the Mid-Atlantic region. This has been a great tool for building relationships within the demolition derby community. Like any project building trust and respect of the subjects or people I’m photographing is the foundation of the work.

5. Where is your photography going? What projects would you like to accomplish?

“Last Car Running” is a project that explores the overlooked recreation, entertainment and leisure activities of working-class America. I would like to get beyond the “otherness” of blue-collar America that is often portrayed in a negative light, and provide a more intimate view of this group of people. As the social gap grows in this country I would like my work to bring awareness and begin a dialog between the “haves” and “have nots.” From my own experience of living on both sides of the economic and social divide, I understand the need for such a dialog.

Website: www.christinepearl.com
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lastcarrunning

© Christine Pearl 02_At The Fence

© Christine Pearl

© Christine Pearl 03_Boys On The Hood

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© Christine Pearl 04_Bruce

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© Christine Pearl 05_Truck

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© Christine Pearl 06_View Fom The Pit

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© Christine Pearl 07_Hit Me

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© Christine Pearl 08_Brenda

© Christine Pearl

© Christine Pearl 09_Peaches

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© Christine Pearl 10_Flag Man

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© Christine Pearl 11_6 Cylinder

© Christine Pearl

© Christine Pearl

© Christine Pearl

© Christine Pearl 13_Nick's Car

© Christine Pearl

© Christine Pearl 14_Tailgate

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© Christine Pearl 15_Derby Eyes

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© Christine Pearl 16_Chain Gang

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© Christine Pearl 17_Lasr Car Running

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© Christine Pearl 18_RT On The Trunk

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© Christine Pearl 19_Pit Pass

© Christine Pearl

© Christine Pearl 20_Push

© Christine Pearl


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