‘Today, they continue to abide by their old-world doctrine, cocooned by their congregation and secluded from the trappings of modern society.’
, a beautifully composed portraiture series, taken over a four-year period. ‘I didn’t know anything about the Hutterites and was
app discovered her passion for photography quite by chance – at McGill University in Montreal, where she studied political science, linguistics, and French and Russian language and literature. ‘Pursuing a joint honours degree overextended me at McGill, and I needed to take a credit outside my major to graduate.
Photography seemed like it wouldn’t take its toll, so I took a class in darkroom photography. It was like an
here’s a place for everyone, and everyone has their place – it’s one of the tenets of the Hutterian Brethren, a faith group living in colonies scattered throughout the prairies in northwestern North America.
The Hutterites share a common ancestry with Anabaptists: they fled religious persecution in medieval Europe, and by the 1870s diaspora colonies had migrated to North America under the direction of their elders.
Today, they continue to abide by their old-world doctrine, cocooned by their congregation and secluded from the trappings of modern society. Hutterite colonies beat as one – one heart, one shared vision.
They live communally and peacefully – they farm, raise livestock and produce manufactured goods as a collective, the proceeds of which are shared as a collective. There are no rich and no poor – everybody is the same.
So when photographer Kristin Capp went ‘road-tripping’ through her home state of Washington and pitched up in Soap Lake – a small, low desert town in north-central Washington with about 1,500 inhabitants – she knew nothing of the Hutterite colony in nearby Lamona.
‘I was meant to move to New York, but my discoveries in eastern Washington delayed that move. I had just acquired my first Rolleiflex and wanted to begin a photographic project on my own terms, so I drove out to Soap Lake, rented a bungalow alongside seasonal migrant workers, and started working at an antique store.
A local told me about this “really nice family” some 40 miles out of town called the Walters,’ she explains. It was this family that would later become the subject of Capp’s
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first came across the Hutterite community she little thought it was the start of a book length project. But, through friendship and mutual respect, and a natural curiosity, she achieved just that. Donatella Montrone reports.
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intrigued, so one day I just showed up at the colony. I remember introducing myself to Rebecca, the mother, right on her front porch. She was so warm and welcoming; I was there three or four hours that first day and was invited to stay overnight.
I didn’t have an agenda; I was just on a life journey and very open and curious. I think the family sensed that my intentions were good. I’d visit them and we’d have long dinners and chat – you know, that tradition of sitting around a meal talking.
It was just serendipity that two spirits met and trusted each other.’
I was using intersected in a special way. It was such a shift from the only other camera I’d used until then – a Nikon FT2, which my parents had given me as a high school graduation gift many years earlier.
It was just a tank, but super easy to use. I took it to Paris with me on my gap year, when I was working as a nanny in Versailles.‘I carried that Nikon around in my backpack, going in and out of the Paris subways, shooting colour slides.
Navigating solo in Paris, I was collecting images, ideas and sensations, even though I wasn’t necessarily pursuing experiences through the photographic lens. I had no idea at the time that photography would come into my life in such a big way.
I don’t think I even understood it when I met Becky. I wasn’t making a series – I was just photographing the Walters and building a friendship.‘I shot 100 rolls of 120mm film during those three months.
All the images were shot in natural light – I didn’t use a flash. I did move back to New York after that – with a dufflebag full of processed negatives. And when I got a handle on what I was doing and saw the results, I realised I really wasn’t ready to leave the Hutterites photographically, so I returned every harvest season, because that’s when they’re outdoors a lot.
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In reviews, publications Tags alliums, magazine, blackandwhitephotography, publications, B+W, published
BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY WINTER ISSUE 197 ON SALE 24 NOVEMBER
A few posts back I shared a smartphone image of some alliums against a white wall. I’m pleased to say this image has been published in Black and White Photography magazine, as part of their ‘Smartshots’ feature.
BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY JANUARY ISSUE 198 ON SALE 22 DECE…
If you don’t already know it, this is certainly a publication to check out. Highlights this month include work by Stephen Shore and Nick Brandt, as well as lots of inspirational images and advice. While the magazine doesn’t exactly have a house style, there is a unifying elegance to the work, and the quality of the reproductions is very fine. The emphasis is on artistic photography (of the black and white kind, naturally) rather than equipment or industry issues. I also enjoy that the images are subtly toned, which creates a visual variety, even in black and white.
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fter a three-month stay in Soap Lake, Capp did relocate to New York, where she landed a studio apprenticeship with fine-art photographer Ralph Gibson. ‘Gibson had worked for Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank, so I was immersed in the rich canon of photography through the prism of a master darkroom printer.
I learned about darkroom technique and realised my passion for the silver print. I also nurtured my love of the photobook, a format that became a catalyst for my career and remains my preferred way to present work to the world,’ she says.
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was unplanned, unexpected. ‘It wasn’t a project in my mind for a long time. I don’t think I knew enough about photography when I first met Rebecca and her family to even talk about those images as a body of work, or as a narrative.
I was experimenting with the medium format twin-lens Rolleiflex, which was a new format for me. The camera was made in the 1950s, and the lens has a coating that produces an optical softness truly unique to that camera.
The subject I was shooting and the camera