We had the good fortune of connecting with Katherine Erwin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Katherine, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
Originally from Houston, I grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church and attended Annunciation Orthodox School. I struggled at that institution for years, as I lived with learning disabilities such as Dyslexia and ADHD. I was told everything from, “you’re not trying hard enough to learn to read,” to “you’re too creative and too imaginative.” It seemed like no matter what I did, or where I went while growing up- I was always too much, or never enough. Then, one day while developing some photos in the photo lab at my high school- my Sign Language professor, Alex Wilhite, offered to purchase the desert canvas scene I recently created. I chortled at the thought, but he insisted and named his price. So, I made my first sale to the very same man whom would later encourage me to seek out a gallery space at Winter Street Studios. Where I remain in business today.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My Art is often a dynamic reaction to the experience of existence. I see every photograph I’ve developed exactly as you see it in the frame, before it is ever created. And as I see these shots appear, I have only moments to capture or create what I envision in my mind. An obsessive impulse compels me to create from nothing, a single frame of somethings. I suppose as a Photographer, one of the biggest factors that sets me apart from most is my methodology of creation. I do not make art from a model, but rather with. I do not create in nature, but with the company of. That is to say, the models I work with are as much artists of creation as I am. Not simply a part of the design, but another hand in the making of.
And this style has proven itself time and time again as I progress as an artist. From being published multiple times by the International Contemporary Masters collection, and Living Artists of Today- to winning the Houston 2020 Photographer of the year award. I am so proud and grateful to be recognized by my own community.
The road to today was a long and lonely one. It meant me going to concerts while growing up and documenting them instead of dancing or just being entertained. It required me working on weekends, and driving straight from the end of my high school days to a photo shoot or photo-centered job I had booked. I was always working, and doing it all alone.
I’d say the biggest challenge I faced in the professional art world was the consistent ageism and sexism. I was 19 years old when I moved into my gallery at Winter Street Studios, and already had been published professionally- but that did little to deter incredulous commentary, especially from older men. Needless to say, the questions of. “so where is the artist? I have a question for her.” Or “‘you did this all by yourself?” and the stunned exclamations of “YOU are the artist?” have become white noise to me.
The biggest lesson I learned along the way is to do everything you can in this world with kindness, patience, and honesty. The more direct you are with others and yourself as an artist, the more raw and often times relatable your creations become. The more comfortable and genuine you are with yourself as an artist, the more dynamic your voice becomes.
I want the world to know that Katherine Erwin Photography has always been and will always remain a place of safety and inclusivity for all. I want anyone, whether customer or coworker to always feel like they are experiencing an environment in which they are encouraged to see and love their truest selves for every intricacy that defines them. For my community to know it is always welcome at my door, and for every artist to know that their voice is valid.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite places in Houston include, but are not limited to: Agora, Avant Garden, The Stuffed Baked Potato Factory, Empire Cafe, Harry’s, Maryz, Niko Niko’s, Ragin Cajun, Uchi, Voodoo Doughnut, Turkey Leg Hut, Tiger Den Ramen, Rothko Chapel, The Menil Collection, Notsuoh, Coral Sword, and of course- all things Sawyer Yards!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to anyone living with Epilepsy or Borderline Personality Disorder. There are far too many negative and stigmatic influences out there that we all have to fight through, just to be seen and heard. And examples of recovery from these struggles are too few and far between. This is for all of you. I see you, you are enough, and never a burden. You are worth every battle, and never the exception to recovery. Your struggle does not define you, but rather refines you.

Instagram: @katherineerwinphotography

Image Credits
Photographs by Katherine Erwin Photography & Portrait of Ms. Erwin taken by Goon73 Photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.