The looks of the city

Jeremy Hamilton, tattoo artist at Blood Sweat & Tears studio.
Jeremy Hamilton, tattoo artist at Blood Sweat & Tears studio. Katherine Kirchner

Periodically, we ask a photographer with The Light Factory, Charlotte’s unique photography center, to make portraits of people they find stylish here.

We’re seeking the looks of the city through varying lenses. And we’re looking for everyday appearances, not special-event finery.

This month, Katherine Kirchner shares her take.

Kirchner’s background is local – she went to school in Union County, sold cameras at Circuit City, studied commercial photography in Asheboro before getting her bachelor of fine arts from UNCC, interned with NYC fashion photographer George Holz, and has taught classes at the Light Factory.

She liked the turn her fine arts training took her photography. She had learned commercial fashion technique. The UNCC faculty “was really concerned about concept. It wasn’t just a pretty girl in a pretty dress. It was: What does this mean and what are you doing and why?”

What she found most interesting in this exercise for the Observer was small-business people and artists: “Rather than hiding their flaws ... they’re dressing to best represent themselves.”

For this installment of the Observer’s collaboration with The Light Factory (, Katherine Kirchner says she wanted to showcase “things that were made here. And not here as in the USA, I mean here as in down the street from you.” Many pieces in her photographs were made by Charlotteans.

She’s currently working on a project that began as her final BFA show for UNCC; she hopes to photograph 200 area artists in their workspaces by year’s end.

“I was educated in art, in this city, and I still had no idea all these people were here. How was anyone else to know?”

You can see some of that work, and more, at You can find previous editions of our Light Factory collaborations, from Mitchell Kearney, Jeff Cravotta and Jim McGuire, at