A native Californian and current Brooklynite, Kristian Punterere's passion for art and photography exploded the first time he shot a camera on a trip to Arizona. His current collection focuses squarely on empowering the female body.
Where are you from? Tell us about your transition from LA to NY and how it’s inspired you.
I’m from SoCal. Born in Santa Monica raised in Culver City, a small but humble little nook in LA. The move from LA to NYC was definitely a journey and so far has taught me a lot and helped me grow tremendously in every way. The move was totally spontaneous. I had left my day job in LA to take a three week vacation to visit my gal here in NYC, and I just ended up staying! The move has inspired me to create more than I ever have. I’m making new work every week, whether it be personal or commissioned, and I am learning and growing so much with every project, it's amazing.
Why do you make what you make? How did you get started in photography?
I make what I make because I don’t think I would be a whole being without my work. It’s almost like air to me. I am able to connect with people through photographs far more than I do in any other setting. I started taking photos when I was about 13/14. For some reason I had decided to take a small point -and-shoot that belonged to my mom on a small road trip with my father to Arizona. To this day I’m not quite sure why I felt so compelled to document that trip but I know it felt right, and it definitely turned out to be the right choice!
What is your process like? How do you decide what to photograph and when?
I don’t have too much of an extensive process. Clutter and over planning never lead to good work for me. For most shoots I usually make a small moodboard and stare at my favorite photo blogs and publications for hours just to hold onto some good inspiration. I do my best to approach every shoot organically because no two shoots are the same. Every photograph is a silent conversation between myself and the subject, and the process of making any image I take usually comes with ease.
I usually decide what to photograph depending on my mood, the situation, or based off of something or someone that is inspiring me at the moment.
Do you have a favorite photograph?
There are so many favorites! Way too hard to pick just one. But I’m still head over heels in love with the images I shot with my friend Emily Theobald at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens this past winter.
Why do you think photography is so powerful?
Photography as a craft and practice has the power to move mountains and silently speak large volumes. Images hold so much strength, emotion and energy, and with that allow the person on the receiving end to perceive an image and feel moved in a million different ways. A photograph can allow you to feel such a beautiful range of emotions as a viewer, and as a practice it can allow you to really learn and connect with the world around you in a brilliant way.
How do you set up a photo to get it just right?
It all comes down to feeling out the given moment. Of course all of the technical aspects involved are important, but what matters most is being able to completely be present in that moment and be able to understand why you capture the image the way you do as an individual and remembering that with every shot taken. Thinking too much is disastrous and trying too hard to get the perfect shot more often than not will not yield a great result. Feel the moment, and allow that creative energy to simply flow.
How do you feel about Bushwick? Why did you choose to live there?
Bushwick is pretty neat from what I’ve seen so far. It definitely has it's own little culture in terms of where it fits into the the NYC art scene. Good music, great food and even better people. I chose to live there for convenience really, it’s so central to a lot of Brooklyn and is a decently easy commute to the city for work.
You work for a store that sells designs from independent artists. Do you enjoy supporting other makers? Why is it important to buy from independent designers?
I do! Tictail is such an amazing little company that I am so proud to be a part of. The people behind it are doing what they do for the most genuine reasons and are doing everything in their power to do just that, support and uplift small makers and designers, giving them the exposure they deserve. Supporting other makers is something I strive to always do. Here in NYC, it’s easy to get sucked into looking out for you and you only. Everyone is doing the same thing and the competition is insane, but at the end of the day, community is important. Without community I would have nothing, and I think having a good group of creatives around you at all times, and supporting said creatives is really important not only for personal growth but also that of the art world. We’re all here to make beautiful work and create what we love to create, why not do it together? Supporting your local and independent designers is really important because more often than not, they are creating it by themselves or with a really small team of people. In doing so, you can be assured that they are making what they make because they genuinely love to do so and want to provide a final product with the most love they can possibly put into it.
Who is your favorite person and why?
This is definitely the most cheesy but my fave person is my partner Emmalyn. She is all around such a beam of light and loves to love like it’s her career. I’ve never met someone who sees as much good in other people as she does. She teaches me so much every day and allows me to slow down and be more tender and aware of myself and the energy I put out into this world. She’s also a pretty damned talented artist herself and I’m always inspired by her work.
What did you think you’d be growing up?
When I was a kid I thought I would be what every other little kid thought they would be: a firefighter, a doctor, a baseball player. I definitely never thought I was going to make art for the rest of my life.
You focus a ton on nudity and the female form. Can you elaborate on why?
I think nudity is the most timeless, honest, raw and true expression of yourself! When stripped from any clothing, jewelry, or material possessions that identify you as you, you are left with your body, your home, your safe place. Being able to capture other people naturally in their most honest form is such a privilege. The female form in my opinion is a more honest expression of what it means to be human. Women are represented in the media in such a disrespectful way. More often than not the way women are visually portrayed is demeaning and unnecessarily sexual. The images we are used to seeing of women are rarely empowering and often dehumanizing. We live in a patriarchal society where every bit of imagery of women is suited towards the male gaze. As a photographer, to be able to empower women, work with strong women and capture them in an honest and real way is really important to me.
Do you have any anecdotes about a certain photoshoot that was really crazy, exciting or hard to pull off?
My favorite photoshoot to this day was a set I shot with my dear friend Sarah Winters a.k.a VOX. We shot this set for some of her single releases as well as a small set for Sticks and Stones Agency. We left home around 7 a.m to drive a few hours out to the Salton Sea in the SoCal desert to spend the whole entire day creating to our hearts content until the sun went down. We just wandered all day long with no exact location or concept in mind, only a few props and general mood references. The whole day was the most exhausting yet rewarding adventure. It brought us closer as creatives and dear friends and yielded some of my favorite images ever.
What inspires you in general?
The most simple of things really. I never have been extremely inspired by certain artists or projects. I tend to seek and find inspiration in the most commonly mundane of things, i.e light dancing on a wall, color gradients, shapes, lines, movement, stillness, softness, the list goes on and on. Life in general is one big heap of inspiration. So many people spend so much time trying to find inspiration in excess amounts, when really the world we live in is so filled with fuel for creativity, we just have to allow ourselves to wake up and be aware of the full creative capability of our present and simple existence.