I’m very happy to introduce you to another amazing south Louisiana talent who graces each episode of A Cajun Murder Mystery Series with her colorful photography.
Having first met Christie Pepper while we both worked for a Sheriff’s Office, her attention to detail and an ability to see the potential in the seemingly mundane quickly demonstrated her talent. This Two Part interview shares a glimpse of the people and passion that make south Louisiana truly unique.
Scott – Hi Christie and thanks again for the interview. Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
Christie – First and foremost, I am a very proud mother of 3 amazing children: Patience, Gracie and Nicholas. I am happily married to the love of my life, and my best friend, Nick Pepper. I was born and raised in Choctaw, LA and consider myself a Cajun — which I believe is a dying ethnic American group, that can speak their own version of French and cook some mean cuisine.
I have a full time job in law enforcement, and just recently started my own on location photography business. I always have a camera with me at the ready to shoot away. I enjoy staying busy and rarely have moments with nothing to do.
I am this year’s elected president of a local volunteer service league, Femmes Natales. I am an ardent believer of helping others in need, people who are unable to help themselves. Gestures as simple as a smile and a lending hand can go a long way.
Scott – I agree with the simple gestures, especially in a community environment such as ours. Which came first—photography or police work?
Christie – I would say that photography came before cop — I never once, while growing up, expected to end up in a career in law enforcement. Since I was a teen, I always had a camera with me wherever I went. My most prized gift (as an adolescent) was a 35mm Kodak camera back in the 80s.
In college I took Fundamentals of Photography and Creative Photography courses as art electives and knew that someday I would be grateful. Even though film developing is not common now, the actual stages of developing in the dark room correlates with digital editing, so I guess the dark room smell was worth it.
The law enforcement aspect came in later in my life. As a paramedic, I provided medical care for many victims of crimes through the job. So many times I went home wandering if the victim would ever have closure, would the perpetrator be found? I met my husband while working as a paramedic, he was a street crimes deputy at the time, moving into narcotics, and now works as a detective.
His passion for what he did radiated from him and eventually I was drawn in. I was hired at the local sheriff’s office and obtained my degree in criminal justice. I have worked in communications, the court system, and am certified through the FBI POST academy instructor course to teach POST academy courses.
I currently work as an investigator with the local DA’s office and could not be more content and intrigued with my full-time career.
Scott – The FBI Instructor Development course is a tough one, congratulations. I enjoy looking at your Facebook and website pages at the varied types of subject matter you photograph. Do you have a favorite?
Christie – I LOVE taking pictures of landscapes, nature, and historic structures in an effort to preserve their beauty and document our home and experiences for my children and whoever has an interest.
History has intrigued me since my early years, I guess that comes from my love for a good story. I remember the stories my mom and dad have told me about their childhood, and have few pictures to rely on to acquire a vivid image. I want my children to be able to know where I came from, want them to know the things I experienced as a child raised in the Sixth Ward area.
I am proud to be part of such a strong connected community. I have since taken pictures of places from my past that have “caught my eye” and told my children what is special about it to me.
Portraits came later. My second child has an interest in pageants and currently holds the 2014 Debutante Miss Lafourche title. With pageants, come lots of expenses, head shots being one of them. I decided that I would take her headshots myself to deter some of those expenses.
She has always won photogenic in every pageant she has been in. I am pretty active on social media and posted her pictures, sharing them with friends. A friend asked me to take her daughter’s senior pictures last year, and then another asked for me to take her daughter’s headshots for pageant pictures, and one thing led to another.
I now have an on location photography business, which is slowly growing. I am blessed to have been able to work with some extraordinarily beautiful, talented, and genuine teens which make the portrait part more rewarding than I first expected.
So a favorite of the two would have to be the portrait part at this moment. The teens tend to choose historic local venues for their photo shoots; therefore, I end up getting the best of both worlds. While on photo shoots, I randomly snap at certain images, sites, etc. that I see beauty in.
Scott – Have you ever used your photography skills to capture crime scenes or evidence. If so, what was the most interesting aspect between the two? If not, would forensic photography ever be an interest of yours?
Christie – I have not had the opportunity to use photography on the law enforcement side. My positions within the law enforcement field never reached into that aspect of it.
I do find forensic photography fascinating, and truly believe that it takes more than an officer just showing up on scene with a camera.
The crime scene photographs are triggers that will assist both witnesses and investigators to reconstructing the crime.
The photographs can later be called upon in a trial to show to the judge or jury as support to both verbal and physical evidence that is presented. They then become emotional triggers, making the crime real, giving it depth that may not have been there before.
Dependent upon the crime, they may be more graphic and brutal than most people have previously witnessed in their lifetime and beyond what their imagination may have led them to without the photographs.
I feel that the true art of forensic photography is catching the little details, catching the crime from the victim’s point of view (lighting, angles, etc.) exposing their feeling of helplessness at the time.
Christie, again thank you for taking the time from being mom, cop and photographer to answer a few questions. I’m so appreciative of your contributions to my Cajun-based mystery series and your keen editor’s eye.
BOLO for Making the Picture Count \ Christie Pepper / Part 2
Please LIKE and SHARE Christie’s Facebook page. Her work is amazing.
Making the Picture Count \ Christie Pepper