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Christina McNeill Wins Five IPA Photography Awards

The Academy of Art University is proud to announce that Photography student Christina McNeill was the winner of five IPA Photography Awards in the Non-Professional category. Her photos "A Fork in the Road," "Grandma's Vacuum," and "Hot Shoes" in the Still Life 1 category, and photos "Muffin" and "Meet Uncle John" in the Illustrative Portraiture category.

Christina's photographs are vibrant and bring a smile to the face of the viewer. They often rely on puns or strange juxtapositions to create their effect; they add a glitz and glamor to low culture and domestic kitsch.

We spoke briefly with Christina about the honors, and her time at the Academy:

How do you develop the concepts for your pictures?

Last semester I was pushed to study Still Life, a class I was not interested in taking at all. I felt that it didn't relate to me, my style, or what drove me to love photography. But after a long conversation with Jim Wood, I came to realize that just because still life photographs represent an ordinary picture of an object, didn't mean I couldn't add something to it, introduce a new person, perspective, or element to it.

Consistent with the curriculum taught at the Academy, I aspire to shoot conceptually. I don't wish to construct the feeling after the picture is taken; I prefer to conceive it beforehand and bring it to life.

How did you submit your photos for the IPA awards and how did you discover that you'd won?

This past year, I entered eight pictures in the International Photography Awards contest and won with five. I feel like I have found a way to introduce a human perspective to a shot that might not otherwise have had it.

My other two shots that won were my portraiture, each of them representing its own unique style. One side is dark, moody, mostly symmetrical, colorful -- a vibrant, simple style. The other is something of an "illustrative portrait," a conceptual idea that conveys mostly humor.

Simplified, I shoot what I love to shoot, and take gratification in bringing my ideas to life. I love sharing my mind with the world. I find it very exciting to now have six awards to my name outside of school. In 2003, I won first place for my "Lifestyles of the Poor and Unfamous" Lifestyle/Documentary photograph, also through the International Photo Awards.

Can you speak about your experience at the Academy?

I have definitely been influenced by my teachers at this school, especially Jay Watson, Elan Santiago, Mark Mercier, Jim Wood and Frank Espada. They've each given me different tools to help me grow, and for that I am thankful.

What are your plans for the future?

With my graduation looming, who knows where I will be when I leave the comfort and familiarity of the Academy, but I do know that I will leave here with the confidence that I have acquired knowledge and experience that will enable me to succeed in the world of photography.


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