Crista Rock has won several prestigious awards for her photography- including from the Associated Press and the Press Club of New Orleans- but she doesn't like to restrict herself by being just a photographer. Indeed, Rock is a multifaceted artist, capturing life around her through video as well as photography, all with the poetic swagger of her beloved New Orleans.
At times majestic, at times gritty, Rock's work delivers a unique, powerful glimpse into another dimension of reality.
We recently caught up with Rock to talk pictures and life in the Big Easy:
Where did you get your start in photography and video work?
Crista Rock: I guess I've just always been a photographer. My Aunt Michell gave me my first camera, a very nice cannon EOS, when I was 5. I had this weird dream/vision when I was 6 or 7. In the dream, I was developing pictures in this old brick darkroom. I was older, maybe 20's. Reaching in the baths and hanging the photo's on clothes pins.
When I woke up it was only 8pm and my parents were still downstairs watching TV. So I ran downstairs and said "MOM... DAD!" and they looked at me like I was bonkers. "I'M GOING TO BE A PHOTOGRAPHER!!!" They just kinda stared at me and said, "ok sweetheart..."
What kind of equipment do you use?
CR: I hate answering this question. I use everything. Whatever the client wants because everyone is different. However, right now I'm in love with the Cannon 5D. I love the EX3 as well just because it's so easy to run and gun with it...as opposed to the 5D that takes time to set. But the 5D you can do both video and stills, which is what my world is right now. I'm not a big tech person. I hate thinking about the specs and like to play with the camera and see how it preforms to the needs I need it to meet.
For the most part how I usually answer your question with something that goes like..."I just like to take pretty pictures." Then, people asking leave me alone thinking I'm a dumbass.
Which is fine for me. Jeez, I really am an asshole.
What is the Downtown Development District?
CR: So the DDD was created by the Louisiana Legislature in 1974 as the nation's first assessment-based business improvement district. Their mission is to drive the development of Downtown New Orleans and be the catalyst for a prosperous, stimulating, innovative heart of the Crescent City. They hired me to do video. Right now our project is to do these small profiles on locals that either work and or live in the Downtown area.
Is it easier or harder to make a name for yourself as an artist than it was when you began?
CR: When I began I was 17, so making a name for yourself when you're that young is really hard. I worked non-stop for free to just get credit that I helped grip on some small B-movie. I worked at my college TV station for 2 years and then got a job at a production house in Cleveland as the Stage Manager and shooter. We did small shows...like Room by Room and America Quilts. But, it gave me a nice resume and a demo reel that I could take with me when I moved to New Orleans.
What is the state of thing in New Orleans since Katrina and the BP spill? These things have slipped from the headlines, and thus the consciousness of most of the rest of the world...
CR: Ugh, another question I hate answering... How do I put this gently? Look, America is fucked. We always will be unless we can somehow get to that next level. That level where we become honest with each other and learn to just BE. That being said, New Orleans is unlike any other place I have ever been. We live, eat, drink (perhaps too much at times) TOGETHER! We stand on a united front. We won't go down easy and we don't like bullshit. Yet somehow we keep getting shit on. Do we recover? Yes we do! And for the most part without the country's help. And you know, I think we are better off that way. I've been here almost 9 years now and there is no other place that can claim my heart as home. I would give my life for this town...and I know there are about 300,000 more people that would say the same.