Photo: Clara Pathé
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Self-taught photographer Chrissie White has won accolades, an online following, prestigious commissions—and all before her 18th birthday.
The Spark: Inspired by the photo-sharing Web site Flickr, Chrissie White first picked up a camera three years ago, at age 14. She began with simple snapshots ("I took a lot of pictures of my cat") but soon earned an online following, a spot in a group exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, and commissions for family portraits and weddings. (She assures O that she takes photographs only after finishing her homework.)

The Spirit: Many of White's pictures combine playful whimsy with the sinister undercurrents of a Brothers Grimm tale (as in her enigmatic image of a little girl crouching in the woods and wearing a paper wolf costume). She won a contest sponsored by American Photo magazine for her depiction of Peter Pan's Wendy flying toward her bedroom window (above). Amazingly, White collaborated with a friend, Clara Pathé, to conjure this fairy-tale vision without the help of Photoshop. "I jumped onto the bed while Clara took the shots, and this is the one that worked," White explains.

The Stories: For White, who lives in a woodsy Seattle suburb, an idea often strikes on an amble to, say, a barren beach or a pond's mossy shore. "I find places when I'm out walking or driving, and I invent stories about what could happen there," she says. "I think of the pictures as movie cels—a moment in a narrative." No surprise, then, that White hopes to direct a short film next, once her applications to art schools in New York are in. "I want to go everywhere and see everything," she declares. "I want to photograph as many things as I can." —Katie Arnold-Ratliff

Chrissie White and Clara Pathe photo
Photo: Chrissie White and Clara Pathé

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