Preservation Magazine, Winter 2016

Personality: Kristin Karch is Camera Ready

Kristin Karch

photo by: Kristin Karch

On long, meandering walks around her neighborhood in Athens, Georgia, photographer Kristin Karch grew fascinated by the area’s rows of stately historic houses. So she did what came naturally—she pulled out her phone and started taking pictures.

Now, a year and 2,000-plus Instagram followers later, Karch is finding that her account, @dwellinginathens, is a picture-perfect rallying point for the city’s preservation community.

“People will say to me, ‘Hey, there’s this house 10 minutes outside Athens, and you probably won’t know about it unless someone tells you,’” she says. “So there’s a lot of people helping me out, and me just sort of going out of my way to [visit] places I might not normally go to.” While Karch tries to include historic information about each structure she shoots, commenters from the community will frequently chime in, filling in knowledge gaps and sparking conversation about the city’s shared history. Hashtags such as #interiorthursdays and #thisoldhouse allow her to connect with other preservationists and attract new followers, both in Athens and all over the country.

Karch, who graduated from the University of Georgia in the spring of 2015, photographs everything from humble Craftsman-Style bungalows to sprawling plantation homes to historic sorority and fraternity houses, though she finds much inspiration in her own neighborhood of Boulevard, a former streetcar suburb founded around 1890. She shoots with a professional-grade DSLR camera when she can, but still uses her smartphone to capture unexpected gems.

Karch was lauded by the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation for her work with @dwellinginathens this past June, which she describes as a “huge honor.” She hopes to publish a photo book within the next year, and is considering pursuing a master’s degree in historic preservation.

“It’s really fun to see when I shoot someone’s house, and they’ll comment and say, ‘Oh, it’s my house, that’s so cool,’” she says. “I like doing that for people.”

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.


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