Karl Christians

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Karl Christians (b. 1989) is a photographer based in Cape Town, South Africa. His work explores spaces and structures, natural and man-made, which tell stories of history and culture.

View his photographs produced during this year, along with his year-end interview below:


When you started the programme what genre of photography were you interested in and has this shifted over the course of the year?

Before starting this programme the majority of my work was street photography. My process has slowed down drastically since then and I take much fewer pictures. I spend more time researching subject matter and considering compositions but I still work within documentary.

Analogue (film) or Digital photography and why?

Film. I’m not against digital but working on film simply helps me to slow down and focus. I prefer editing in the darkroom as opposed to on a computer screen, sitting still is quite a challenge for me.

What subject matter do you find yourself drawn to?

Mostly spaces and structures, both natural and man-made. There are stories that spaces tell about history, culture and the people who are using them. I find it fascinating that like human’s spaces and structures have stories to share too.

Pick three words/phrases that describe your approach to the medium?

Respectful, patient, learning.

Why did you choose to study photography?

I am passionate about photography and I want to be in an environment with like-minded people, learning from them and growing my knowledge of the medium.

What has been the most noteworthy shoot/project you have done this year?

An assignment called Merle Playroom, which focuses on child sexual abuse by exploring the consultation area of a forensic social worker. Child sexual abuse is a major issue, especially in South Africa, that needs more attention. I am further expanding this project and working with the authorities to create something that will hopefully be beneficial to the fight against child sexual abuse.

Who is your biggest photographic influence at the moment and how?/why?

There are many inspiring artists who inform my practice but at this very moment, Eugene Atget. I think he was such a romantic at heart, his determination and dedication to create a complete archive of Paris and its culture is really so sincere.

What has been your biggest misconception about photography as a practice?

That a photograph is a truthful document.

What is the most valuable thing you have gained from the course?

The consideration of the viewer and the way that your work may be perceived, this is especially important in documentary photography. I tend to photograph people much less than before because I find this terrain very tricky to navigate.

What advice would you give to anyone seriously considering applying for the course?

If you’re “seriously” considering applying then that’s a good sign because it takes a lot of seriousness to do this course, serious dedication and serious commitment. The lecturers and staff at Orms CTSP are passionate, always willing to help and genuinely care but you have to put the work in to get the results, and the results are so worth it!