P.E.I. photographer presents girls’ hockey photo series

Mary MacKay
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Charlottetown photographer Anna Karpinski hams it up with a Holga toy camera. This is a playful take on her typical photo-taking mainstay, which is a classic Pentax K-1000 film camera.


When Charlottetown photographer Anna Karpinski shoots, she typically scores series of photographs that celebrate the unique culture of Prince Edward Island.

Her latest project, Keep Your Stick on the Ice: Portraits of Girls in Hockey, which captures this girls-on-ice world, is on view now at The Big Orange Lunchbox Bar and Grill in Charlottetown until the end of the month.

“(My style) is a documentary style; some people call it street photography,” Karpinski says.

“For me the important part is to photograph things as they are happening. I like it when there are a lot of people doing their thing and I can be a fly on the wall and capture what I hope to be genuine moments of a culture or people’s hobbies or interests — just capture how we are today.”

Check out a slideshow of some of Anna Karpinski’s Keep Your Stick on the Ice: Portraits of Girls in Hockey series at www.theguardian.pe.ca.

The project is in partnership with the P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention Services and funded the P.E.I. 2014 Fund which, in addition to celebrating P.E.I.’s past with regard to the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference also aims to showcase where Islanders are today.

“That’s what this project is, especially with women in hockey,” says Karpinski, who was born in Poland, raised in St. Catherine’s, Ont. and moved to P.E.I. in 2002.

“When I was growing up hardly any girls played hockey, only the girls who were tough and could go on boys teams. . . .”

Last year, just for fun, she shot some girls in hockey for her monthly photo spot in The Buzz and noticed for the first time how many young female hockey players there were.

“They have their own leagues from all ages, so I just thought that was pretty inspiring ... (as well as the fact that) girls get to be girls and play hockey. They don’t have to be one of the boys anymore. They can have long hair. They can have their own music. They can have pink skates and can be girly, or not, but they can play,” Karpinski says.

With her theme in mind, this documentary photographer set out for various rinks to capture the on- and off-ice action of numerous games and practices of players from novice to peewee.

“Once I got in there and took a few shots where people were really posing, (but then they) had to get geared up and laced up for the game. Every so often they’d look up at me, but mostly they were doing that. So it was easy to be a fly on the wall in a changing room,” she smiles.

“And also during practices I could go right on the ice, which was fun. The games were harder to photograph because everything is so far and so fast.”

Not only does Karpinski shoot with natural light, she also uses film as well.

“Once I got the right film and I found the proper exposure the shooting went smoothly because all the rinks and the locker rooms have similar lighting. I used fast film and I pushed the processing,” she says.

“My approach when I photograph is not to have too many preconceived notions because then you’re waiting for things to happen and you miss what’s really happening. . . . Once I get in there I just go with my gut. Because then you’re in the moment instead of waiting.”

Karpinski chose 12 of her best for the first showing, which was at The Guild on March 8 in conjunction with International Women’s Day. The second showing starts today, March 10, at the Big Orange Lunchbox.

In an informal survey of some of the hockey players, Karpinski asked what they liked best about playing hockey. The majority answered with “Playing with my teammates and making friends.”

“The locker room is pretty fun from what I saw. It takes a long time to put all that gear on so they’re in there for usually an hour before the game. They listen to music. They talk. They laugh. And then when it’s time for the game they’re all ready, they go out and get serious,” she adds.

“There’s such a mixture of girls. They just love it and they can just be themselves.”

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