Celebrating Women Photographers: Christina House

Nneka Ogwumike
L.A. Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike in downtown Los Angeles in September 2019.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
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In honor of Women’s History Month, the Los Angeles Times photography department would like to highlight our award-winning female staff photographers.

Christina House joined The Times photo staff in 2017 after 10 years as a freelance photographer. She recently received the Cliff Edom New America Award and was honored in the portrait series category for her work on “Game Changers: A Celebration of Women in Sports” from the 2021 National Press Photographers Assn.'s Best of Photojournalism awards.

House is a native Southern Californian and the daughter of a Filipino American immigrant. When she was 7 years old she traveled to the Philippines to meet her relatives there for the first time. It was an eye-opening experience for her to witness her mother living between those two worlds. That experience inspired her to pick up a camera.

House says she’s always been curious about other people and how they live, what they do, why they do it.

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My favorite part of this job is getting to meet people from all walks of life and learning from them -- and telling their stories so others can learn too.

Christina House

Ashleigh Johnson
Olympic water polo player Ashleigh Johnson in a pool at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos in October 2019.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Behind the photograph:

When I took this photograph, I remember thinking to myself that I can’t hold my breath as long as her. I haven’t done a ton of underwater photography. The week before I had to do a test run at a friend’s pool.

However, Johnson was a rock star. She spent a lot of time with me and even gave me a lesson on treading water.

I think this is one of the most powerful shots out of this portrait series. I love the water reflection and how the light touches her skin, and her pose is everything.

You see her strength. It inspires me. I hope it inspires others too.

Christina House

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Kathleen and Russel Sion
Kathleen and Russel Sion, both 29 and front-line workers, had to postpone their wedding because of the pandemic. They were photographed on May 2, 2020, on the front steps of Caroldale Learning Community School in Carson, where they first met as children.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)
Claressa Shields
Boxer Claressa Shields at Berston Field House in Flint, Mich., in October 2019.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Christian Serratos
Actress Christian Serratos, star of the Netflix series “Selena,” at the Garcia House in the Hollywood Hills.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Behind the photograph:

When I took this photograph, I remember thinking, this dress is amazing! The color and shape of it definitely elevated the photo. I arrived at the Garcia House in the Hollywood Hills hours in advance.

I like to walk around and simmer on my ideas and check out the natural light before I decide on the setup. There was a female photographer from a magazine shooting Christian before me and another female photographer from the New York Times setting up to shoot right after me.

It was cool to be in the company of other female photographers, which is usually not the case, and seeing how the three of us were going to use the same house in three different ways.

Christina House

Renee Zellweger
Actress Renee Zellweger at Machinima Studios in Burbank in October 2019.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Alix Klineman
Volleyball player Alix Klineman in Manhattan Beach in November 2019.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Julie Krone
Jockey Julie Krone at Masterpiece Farms in Rancho Santa Fe in November 2019.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Behind the photograph:

This photo made me feel lucky. I am an animal lover and a lover of light.

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To be able to photograph Julie and this magnificent horse as the sun was setting behind them ... it was pretty dreamy.

Christina House

Billie Jean King
Tennis legend Billie Jean King at the Langham Huntington hotel in Pasadena in October 2019.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Michelle Kwan
Two-time Olympic figure skater medalist Michelle Kwan at her family’s ice rink in Artesia in December 2019.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Behind the photograph:

I remember growing up watching her skate on television. When scouting to do this portrait I remember thinking, how am I going to take a photo of an ice skater but make it look different? That’s when I found the ice skate shelves at her family’s ice rink. And Michelle was good with the idea.

I always strive to create a graphic image that will make people stop and stare, rather than just glimpse at it. So, my hope is that the viewer takes a minute to let it soak in.

Christina House

Arizona Zervas
Rapper Arizona Zervas in Culver City.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Ibtihaj Muhammad
Olympic fencing medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad at Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles in September 2019.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Behind the photograph:

My first idea was to have Ibtihaj wearing a fencing uniform. She designs clothing and wanted to wear one of her designs, so, instead, we agreed on using a helmet and sword as props. So, I remember thinking I have to make this look effortless.

I hope that women who look like Ibtihaj will feel represented and heard when they look at this picture.

It is imperative for women to see themselves being represented in the media in a positive way.

Christina House

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Arianna Carson
Dancer Arianna Carson near her Rowland Heights home in July 2020.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Scout Bassett
Paralympic track and field medalist Scout Bassett at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego in November 2019.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Regina King
Actress Regina King at 1 Hotel West Hollywood in August 2020.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

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