1Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography?
My name is Christa Funk and I currently reside on the North Shore of Oahu. I started photography in 2003, My teacher asked if I wanted to learn about shooting a film camera and using Photoshop; I jumped at the chance and have been shooting since.
2Where did you study photography?
I took two years of film photography classes in high school, was a staff member on the high school newspaper my junior year, and then the photo editor for the same publication my senior year. When I went to college, I decided to attend the United States Coast Guard Academy. I kept shooting on the side while attending and majored in Marine and Environmental Science. My senior year I was able to get into an advanced digital / film photography class at Connecticut College next door.
3Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
My first shot was a photo of our family cat named Simba.
4What equipment do you use?
Since 2003, I’ve been using Canon products. I shoot with Canon 7d mkii bodies and an assortment of Canon lenses. I haven’t had to upgrade my equipment yet. I firmly believe that as long as you are able to compose a photograph, you can shoot an incredible photograph with any camera. For shooting surf in the water, I use an SPL warehousing and for diving, I use a Nauticam dive housing.
5What do you hope to achieve?
My goal has always been to earn a living from photography, so far so good, and I hope to continue it.
6What compliment inspired/touched you the most?
When I was 16 in a Denver bookstore, I picked up a book called Extreme Sports Photography. Sean Davey was one of the featured photographers and I loved his surf photos. I’d been a competitive swimmer since the age of 7 and dreamed about one day shooting in the water. I met Sean while living and shooting on the North Shore when I was 28. He complimented my work and it was such a ridiculous full-circle moment.
7What inspires your unique storytelling?
Nature is incredible, the way light interacts and moves with water is an aspect of shooting in the water that constantly inspires me. I also love being in the water. Being able to move and swim in the environment I’m working in leads to unplanned moments that keep me coming back to it.
8What THREE (3) words describe your photography style?
Colorful, vibrant, alive.
9Congratulations! As the winner of the London Photography Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?
I’m thrilled, it means my work gets to be seen by an audience outside of the surf industry that I primarily work in.
10Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2022 London Photography Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
There are so many hours that went into that photograph. Hours spent analysing forecasts, swimming, shooting surf, and editing. I’ve seen waves like that go unridden and that morning Anthony Walsh decided to drop into that mutant. A lot of times when shooting surf, a moment feels crazy in real life but it doesn’t translate to what you see in the photograph. I loved that this shot translated into a shot that shows exactly how hectic that moment was.
11How has winning an award developed your career?
Winning an award adds credibility to my photography career. Making a living as an artist is all in how you present your work to the world. This award is a point of distinction in my photography career.
12Name 1-3 photographers who have inspired you.
Sean Davey, Margaret Bourke-White, and Lynsey Addario
13What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out, by a mentor or your role model?
My high school journalism teacher told me to, “submit fearlessly, the worst they can do is tell you no.”
14What advice would you give someone who would like to become a photographer today?
Be flexible with what you are willing to shoot. Before I built up my reputation as a water photographer, I was earning a living from photos taken on land: lifestyle for small brands, real estate, products, landscapes, family, weddings, kids, animals, etc. In fact, I still shoot all of those. All of the shooting and editing I’ve done crosses over into seeing key moments, composing photos, and working with a varied clientele.
15What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
The key to my success was deciding to start my photography career while I was still employed as an Officer in the US Coast Guard. I had the freedom to learn and fail without the burden of having to pay my rent. When I finished my commitment in 2017, I was able to hit the ground running into photography. Don’t rush the process, take your time to learn about photography, and be relentless in pursuing any goal you set for yourself.
16How do you stay in that space of being receptive to new information and knowledge?
Don’t get an over-inflated opinion of yourself. Surround yourself with a support group that will actually give you honest feedback about your work. Understand that no matter how good your work is that new information and knowledge can lead to more creativity. I think the creativity tap turns off the second you decide that you don’t have anything else to learn.
17Anything else you would like to add to the interview?
My husband and family are the best. Jake, my husband, is a fantastic writer, has a great eye, and is organized when I’m all over the place. He helps me with captions, edits interviews, assists with the decision process when I select photos, and saves me when I have travel emergencies. I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without his unwavering belief in me. My family cheers me on, constantly promotes my work to strangers, and are all fiercely loyal. I know I can always rely on them for anything, especially honest feedback about my work.