Christina Holmes

Diving Deeper, Shooting the Authentic

Photos—Christina Holmes

Christina’s love of shooting began at an early age, while wandering the countryside of her native Michigan. Her passion for lifestyle, food culture, and travel photographs along with her creative endeavors from directing to designing have influenced her style of imagery. Inspired by the natural surroundings she grew up with, Christina creates compositions showcasing lived-in authenticity, while capturing the beauty of natural light. She has honed her expertise as a photographer working with some of North America’s most prestigious editorial and advertising clients. Christina currently resides in New York City, but you’ll usually find her traveling the globe on assignment.

What sparked your interest in photography?

I owe a lot to the simple layered world of the farm I grew up on, and the inspiration of captured visual motion and nature from my constant childhood exposure to public television. Do I dare say Bob Ross? My passions for land, culture, people, story, and authenticity have always played a heavy role in my personal life and now translates into my work as well.

Chalet Ruth, hillside on the piste at Zermatt where ski-in-ski-out chalets abound.

 

What photograph or photographer has had the greatest influence on you?

From Eugene Smith, to Diane Arbus, and Robert Frank. I think that these legends each evoke a similar feeling in their work through their individual voices. I am constantly seeking that clear voice in my own work. The work of those photographers are representations of a place in time, of a people, of a moment, through a voice consistent in all their work. This, for me, is very inspiring. When it comes to storytelling work, I remember a photo essay called Trek of Tears by Martha Rial for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that won Pulitzer Prize in 2012: it changed my world.

My desire to shoot more photojournalism while focusing on deep emotional stories seemed suddenly attainable.

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What do you love most about Michigan?

Lake Michigan. For me it’s one of the hidden gems of the midwest that we all try to keep a secret regardless of its expanse. It looks like an ocean to the naked eye but is actually a freshwater lake. Its history is deep and its legacy full. It has especially great significance for Native Americans, whose culture runs deep within the state. The lake is filled with incredible fish and other aquatic life that is unique to its waters, and those that grew up with it, I think, feel the need to protect it. This is more urgent than ever as surface warming has increased, potentially jeopardizing habitats and the survival of native species.

Taking in the views of Kitzbühel in the distance while resting at the Berggasthof Sonnbühel mountainside restaurant chalet.

 

What do you seek to capture in the subjects you choose?

A reality, a feeling of thought, of authenticity. Most of my subjects tend to be “real people,” if you will. I love the idea of getting to know a person, listening to their words, hearing what they have to say regardless of personal stance or opinion, always committing to just being present in the moment for that subject as they open themselves to me in story.

I’m always hoping to pull out the deeper personality that lies within.

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Is there a specific adventure or place that sticks with you?

I’ve had so many incredible moments so far, it’s hard to choose one adventure. My mind immediately goes to the Alpine adventure, a passion project that encompassed two years of my life, and which we recently released in the book Alpine Cooking (written by Meredith Erickson and published by Ten Speed Press in October 2019): diving deep into the cultures, differences, and similarities of every village in the whole of the European Alps. Western Asia also sticks out in bold fashion for me—Lebanon, Turkey and the UAE. Each place is so close yet so vastly different, with its own incredible stories, culture, food, and people.

LEFT: A SUN-DRENCHED CORNER OF THE RESTAURANT AT THE FAMED BELLEVUE HOTEL & SPA IN COGNE, ITALY.
RIGHT: THE HUSBAND-AND-WIFE OWNERS OF KAMOURASKA CREATE LOCAL DISHES LIKE THIS ONE, WHICH FEATURES CRAWFISH FROM THE FAMED LAKE OF ANNECY, SERVING THEM UP WITH THE BEST NATURAL WINES.

 

What would you like to communicate to the people looking at your photos?

To dive deeper. To spend more than a second and a swipe. To ask questions and seek answers. Photography can be such a powerful media of visual truths and escapes. I think we are maybe so overloaded with visual media these days that we don’t slow down to see an image for more than what lies on the surface.

 

Maybe that’s why I love stories that involve nature, or have an organic spirit to them: I want the viewer to take that feeling of a slower pace and feel that ease in the image when they stare at it.

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What are you working on at the moment?

My first solo show, The Alpine Archives, is coming up in New York this Spring. I’m also working on wrapping up a project which tells the stories of multi-generational farming families in the US. In addition, I’m working on another nature-inspired photo essay, “The Salmon Run,” which follows the journey of one gill-netter family over multiple years during the annual trek of the salmon as they make their way during spring up the channels of the Pacific NorthWest to the bays in Alaska to spawn.

Is there a particular cause you’d like to tell us about? An organization close to your heart?

Support for the environment lies so closely to many of the stories I tell. I’ve partnered with the World Glacier Monitoring Service and the Glacier National Park Conservancy most recently. They will both be beneficiaries of 50 per cent of the profits of the Alpine Gallery show and book sales. 

Photographing the repercussions of glacier melt in Bolivia: the shift in the melt due to changing temperatures, air pollution, and other factors is overwhelming. This project gave us close views of the tops of many significant glaciers. It was full of stories of intergenerational traditions, deep culture, alpine sport, and conversations about the now-constantly changing landscape. I’m very much focusing on my efforts to help bring awareness to this issue of rapid glacier melt as water is something that affects us all. 

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Where to find Christina Holmes

@chwhat / christinaholmesphotography.com

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