FAIRFIELD — After growing up in New York City, Kristie Kistner moved to Fairfield 15 years ago, where she and her husband are raising their two children.

But Kistner also has a photography business, Kristie Kistner Photography, that she started in 2014. It was one of her images — “Awestruck” — that took the top prize in the Fairfield Museum and History Center’s annual Images contest. As the winner in the serious amateur/professional category, Kistner will have a gallery showing at Southport Galleries, starting Sept. 17 and running through the end of the month.

Kistner, who specializes in family and portrait photography, is the mother of two children with Tourette syndrome, a chronic neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations known as tics. Her gallery show will feature portraits of children and young adults with Tourette’s.

The photographer took a few minutes to answer some questions about her craft.

More Information

“Reflections: the faces

of Tourette Syndrome”

Sept. 17 to 30

Southport Galleries

330 Pequot Ave.


Open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Q: What was your reaction when you found out you won the Images contest and the gallery exhibition?

A: Interestingly enough, I won the Images competition on the day my grandmother died. She was one of the most influential people in my life. I like to think this wonderful opportunity was a final gift from her.

Q: Why choose “Reflections: the faces of Tourette Syndrome” for the gallery showing? What is it you want people to take away from the photographs?

A: I started this project with two goals in mind. I wanted to do my part to spread awareness about Tourette syndrome and I wanted to make local Tourette sufferers feel like a part of something good. I have found that people affected by Tourette syndrome very often feel misunderstood and alone. They spend a lot of time apologizing for a condition they have no control over, explaining themselves to doubtful onlookers. I wanted to shine a positive light on them. There is a stigma attached to Tourette syndrome that I wanted to do my small part to dispel.

Q: When you take a photograph, are you composing in your head how you want the image to turn out, or do you just have a general idea and start shooting?

A: I almost always see my images in my mind’s eye before I even take my camera out of the bag. When I shoot portraits, I like to take a moment to get to know my subject’s personality before I shoot. I haven’t truly created a portrait of a person if I haven’t included their spirit.

Q: What, to you, makes a photograph a great photograph?

A: It’s simple. Good photographs are pretty; great photographs are emotional.

Q: What camera equipment do you use?

A: I primarily shoot with a Nikon D810 and natural light. I also have some pretty good jokes in my back pocket that I find just as helpful as fancy camera equipment. Real smiles are hard to fake.