Photographer focuses on conflicting beliefs, contrasting stereotypes

Whether it is because of private school, the media or destiny, something powerful has drawn Anchorage resident Mitch Kitter to photography. The UAA business management sophomore was attending private school when he discovered his affinity for taking pictures.

“I was competing in these Olympic-type games, and we had to compete in something academic,” said Kitter. “I decided on photography, and it turned out to be a good choice because I won first place.”

Along with his photographic achievement, Kitter also worked at Best Buy during high school. By spending most of his time in the camera section, he found the way to convey his artistic vision. Many experiences have influenced Kitter’s photography, from seeing the World Trade Center to conflicting religious beliefs.

“I was raised in a prominent Christian family,” said Kitter. “And when you see what the media is saying, compared to what you are being raised to believe, things really start to conflict.”

Kitter takes this conflict and transforms it into photography by looking for contrasting images, stereotypes and clichés. But his background isn’t his only influence. Music is what Kitter considers his biggest influence, especially The Spill Canvas, a South Dakota alternative rock band.

“Actually, it is because of The Spill Canvas that my latest show was named ‘Self Conclusion,'” Kitter said. “Their new album was released around the same time my show was premiering, and that song name seemed to fit just right.”

Now that the “Self Conclusion” collection has ended, Kitter has two future projects in mind. The first collection is a compilation of American stereotypes aptly titled “Patriot,” in which Kitter will highlight 12 different Americana clichés. After “Patriot,” Kitter will prepare for the “Homeless Project.” During the project, Kitter will be homeless on the streets of Anchorage for three weeks. He plans on buying disposable cameras with the money he earns from panhandling, and taking pictures with those cameras.

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“I have been researching a little bit. But I haven’t spent a night on the streets yet,” Kitter said.

Kitter has worked on many different projects, as well as doing contract work such as senior pictures and weddings. Recently, he worked on a portfolio for Sarah Sonnentag, a hairdresser at The Loft Spa & Hair Design.

“Mitch is a very professional, well-prepared young man,” said Sonnentag. “He is one of the most creative photographers out there, and he really knows his stuff.”

Sonnentag said Kitter is able to work conflict-free with models without being too demanding. He knows what he wants, and is able to be articulate without having to order them around. Sonnentag’s portfolio features models standing against spray-painted walls and broken-down buildings.

“I felt like Tyra Banks on ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ Kitter joked. “I had to tell the models what I needed in order to get the shot.”

Working with clients such as Sonnentag increases Kitter’s notoriety. In the ever-expanding field of photography, there has to be something unique about the artists’ work to keep them in the top of their field.

Most of the extreme nature of his photographic endeavors is featured on his Myspace page. Viewers can see photos depicting Kitter being hung by an American flag, having an abortion and even preparing for plastic surgery. Despite his controversial material, Kitter is a self-conscious perfectionist about all of his shots.

“Sometimes it will take three or four hours to get the right shot. I need to make sure it is exactly what I see in my head, and if it isn’t, I have to go back and make it perfect,” he said.

Kitter also spends a lot of time on Myspace to gain feedback for his work. If the picture doesn’t get any criticism, he takes it off immediately and either re-shoots or deletes it. Feedback is feedback, he said, whether good or bad; Kitter just wants to hear it how it is.

“I dare to go there,” Kitter said. “I will take the pictures that everyone else is afraid to take. I don’t have a filter.”

To view Kitter’s clientele work and self-photography, visit

www.myspace.com/mitchkitter.