ArtsJanuary 24, 2013 at 5:45 am

Artist Profile: Christian Hopkins

Name and Year: Christian Hopkins, C’16
: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
: Biochemistry


STREET: How did you get into photography?
Christian Hopkins: I can’t specify any defining moment in my life where I made that
transition from “guy who occasionally takes photos” to “photographer.” The first time I
had ever taken a photo with any artistic intention was in the fall of 2010. The green of the
leaves had just begun to melt away into vibrant yellows and oranges, and the low hanging
evening sun would set them alight in brilliant glowing bursts. It was all so breathtakingly
tragic. The leaves died so beautifully. I guess you can say I was being selfish. I didn’t
want that beauty to go away. I wanted it for myself, so I started taking pictures.

STREET: What was your first camera like? What do you use now?
CH: My first camera was this little point–and–shoot called the Canon Powershot. It could
never faithfully capture what I saw in front of me, but it was better than nothing. I would
only use it to take pictures of nature, and not very often. I had absolutely no idea how
to use it then. Press halfway to focus; press fully to take the picture. That’s all I knew.
That’s all I needed.

I can confidently say I’ve learned a little since then. Now, I use the Canon 5D Mk. III, a
full–frame DSLR, but I don’t feel that the hardware itself is what’s important. Whether
you’re using a DSLR or simply your phone, a camera is just something that teaches you
how to see without a camera.

STREET: What are you trying to evoke from your creations?
CH: All I’m really trying to do with my photography is remind people that they’re
human. I want people to feel from my creations. When you look at my photographs,
yes, you are seeing me, but it’s not just me. Maybe, you see yourself, or maybe, you see
a friend. Whoever may lie within the frame, you are seeing a human being. What I’m
trying to do with the majority of my photographs is express some infinitesimal fragment
of the essence of humanity. We are constantly beset by so many emotions, and often
times we fail to find the right words to describe these feelings (or perhaps the words
simply don’t exist). Instead, I’ll use images to capture those feeling that we all share. I’ll
consider a photograph a success if someone can look at it and say, “me too.”

STREET: You recently made a photographic composite of various people to create
one human portrait. Do you see yourself as an aspiring humanitarian?

CH: I guess that depends on how you would define “humanitarian.” I’m human, and I’m
not afraid to be. A quick trip to tells me it’s a person actively engaged in
promoting human welfare and social reforms. To be completely honest, I’m kept busy
enough just being myself to “actively” engage in promoting human welfare, but if being
myself winds up helping humanity, then by all means, call me a humanitarian. You can
see the composite with my description here:

STREET: How do you utilize digital photography as a medium?
CH: The ease and versatility of digital photography greatly caters to my creative process.
I’ll often describe myself as a painter who never learned how to paint. Before actually
taking any pictures, I’ll have some preconceived image in my head that I feel adequately
communicates some emotion. Then, I’ll go about setting up the shot, making sure
everything is in the right place before I actually take the picture. Once I end up with a
satisfying image, I’ll do all of my post–processing in Photoshop.

STREET: Oh, and you have musical talents as well?
CH: Much to the chagrin of my roommates, I absolutely love singing. Blame (or thank,
depending on your opinion of my voice) my mother. Growing up, my mom kept pushing
me to try singing, to the point where she was actually offering to pay me to join my high
school glee club. While I never ended up taking the money, I eventually succumbed to
her whim and reluctantly joined the glee club my sophomore year. We sang the Mozart
Requiem, and the fact that I still remember almost every note should be a testament to
how deeply I had fallen in love with the piece.

STREET: Where do you see yourself going in the future?
CH: Forward, hopefully. My photography has always been just a hobby — a passionate
hobby, yes — but, a hobby nonetheless. Still, who knows what’s going to happen in the
next 10 years, or even the next 10 minutes. I’m just going to be as me as I can be.


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