Can you remember when you first held a camera?
I remember that we had this massive digital camera from Olympus back in the 90s, that I was taking pictures with when I was a kid. This is my earliest memory of me holding a camera but there are some really funny pictures of me when I was tiny, holding an old analog camera, kinda funny when I look at it now. I still have the camera, my mom gave it to me a few years ago.
What is a childhood image burnt into your mind?
My mom yelling at me cause I destroyed my dress and my shoes on my first holy communion cause I was shredding the hill down with a skateboard.
Can you tell me an iconic photographer whose work you got very fascinatedby? — What did you feel when looking at their images?
David Sims, especially the shots of Linda Evangelista for Harpers Bazaar in ’93. Linda Evangelista looks like the women I always wanted to be. I’m also a huge fan of Harley Weir, for me she seems to be the badass of fashion photography, nothing she does seems to apply to any rules, a rebel in my opinion, I love it.
Do you think the “male gaze" is a myth?
No, it’s not. Fashion Photography has been dominated by men for decades, since it begun. Nearly everything we see is dictated by men and male fantasies and even today a most visuals are made by men, even if female photographers are slowly taking their place in image making. Of course traditional power structures were simply reproduced in daily imagery and generations got formed without having a closer look at female experiences, that’s nothing you can easily brush aside.
What was your first fashion shoot?
I think my first “real fashion shoot” was my first job in Paris for a French Magazine really short after I signed with my agency . Everything I did before was styled with Vintage or Zara cause I never really worked with magazines or PR agencies before, besides some smaller publications. I had absolutely no idea of how the industry works, how a fashion shoot actually works and I was a nervous wrack when I flew to Paris. I remember that I freaked out at the check-in counter at the airport cause I thought I lost my phone which I just gave to the lady at the counter to check my boarding pass, I think everyone in the queue behind me thought I’m crazy. I couldn’t sleep the night before the shoot so I went for breakfast 3 hours before call-time and was looking at motivational ted talks for hours. You know, everything that was repeating in my head was the movie “The devil wears Prada” and that’s all I knew about the fashion industry. I studied before, never published something, all I knew was my tiny studio. As soon as I arrived on set everything was fine, everyone was really nice and I quickly got what it’s all about.
What do you love most about the Fashion Industry?
What do you most hate about Fashion Industry?
The Lack of Diversity.
If you would start out now what would you be doing, how would you go about// who would you work with and where would you be aiming?
If I look back, I would not change single thing. I left school with 18. I remember telling my mom “I quit school and go to Berlin, I’ll be a photographer. So I did an internship in Berlin which was the most horrible time and after that I sweared to myself that I’ll never assist again and never work as an employee again. At this point I was kinda done with photography, I didn’t know where to start or what to do so I applied for university and studied Media Design. During this time I was working as a student assistant because I wanted to have access to the photo studio 24/7. I think that’s where I actually developed my photography. All my friends told me that I should do assisting If I really wanna be a photographer, university won’t help me but instead of going back to assisting I locked myself in the studio as much as I could. That’s the main reason why I’m doing this job now I think, I never had someone who told me what to do, how to shoot, how the industry works, I just naively did whatever I liked and I was not spoiled like a lot of my friends who got really effected by all these “that’s what he industry likes, shoot like this. That’s what art buyers like, shoot like this” … If I could go back, I would do exactly this.
Statistics show that only 1 in 10 of the big money jobs i.e. womenswear-beauty and perfume campaigns are shot by women. Is there just no qualified female fashion photographers out there?
I don’t know and I don’t get it to be honest. I personally don’t want to be put in a box labeled “female photographer”, I’m a photographer, period. I don’t want to put myself in a position where I think I didn’t get the job cause I’m female, this would be the opposite of what I want to be or how I see myself and my work. Especially cause I’m mostly working with amazing women and all my male colleagues are really supportive, my gender has never been a topic, maybe because I don’t see myself that way. On the other side I can’t ignore the numbers, the percentage of women that are working in photography. It doesn’t make any sense for me to push only on gender to create ideas and images for an audience which is mostly female. Giving everyone a chance to share their point of view, they way how they see the world would open much more possibilities. Right now you just cut off a big percentage of opportunities. This is also not about female against male or male against female, this is about equal chances and equal opportunities.
One says it takes 10’000 hours to become a master of a craft, how long in hours/days/years did it take you to make a living?
I would never consider myself as a master, lucky me I can make a living with photography but this was also a lot of luck and some wonderful people who pushed me and believed in what I’m doing. But as many other people I also do struggle, sometimes I’m drowning in work but there are also times where I don’t work at all. I think it’s not about the hours, days or years you invested in your career and where does “mastering a craft” end? Do you make a goal and if you reach that goal your done? I guess most of just can’t accurately judge their own skills so we keep pushing, try new things, leave the comfort zone and that leads to personal growth which is the most important thing. Never stop, always progress.
Who is your female fashion image maker icon and who is your the one to watch?
Harley Weir as already mentioned above, Nadine Ijewere and my new crush is Carlota Guerrero.
Who is your female fashion designer icon and who is your the one to watch?
Vivienne Westwood and Florentina Leitner is an amazing talent, worth to watch.
What makes you feel comfortable on set?
Good music and good food
How important is your team?
Everything. It doesn’t matter how good you are, how well prepared the shoot is. The team is everything cause this is not a “One-Man-Show” I usually choose wisely with who I work with. The people I work with on free projects are usually also my friends and we try to keep it as relaxed as possible, enjoy the day and create something beautiful.
What do you say about the charge that all fashion photography is predominantly sexist?
Are we talking about the industry itself or the imagery? If the question is about the industry: I’m trying to create and provide an environment on set where everyone can feel save, this is the most important thing for me. I worked with a lot of amazing people but I would lie if I would say that I never faced sexual harassment during work. From unnecessary comments (also by women) to men who use their position and power to get sexual favors and then threaten you if you refuse. After #metoo people are finally listening, there has been way to much shit going on behind closed doors.
There is a big surge of feminism at the moment - do you think that will affect Fashion Photography?
Of course it will and it already did, this is just the beginning.
When I look at your work, I really love your shoot of Adel. What is yours?
Favorite Shoot ever? I don’t know, usually all of them are wonderful. My last personal project was amazing, we’ve been road tripping on the west coast of South Africa, had some food, coffee, got a tan, had flamingos next to us and we shot some cool pictures, that’s how I like my shoots.
What was your relation to fashion prior to working in this industry? Has it changed?
When I was 18 my first week of work in Berlin was during fashion week, I was so excited and I really wanted to be a part of that. I loved the runway shows, all the parties. Today I don’t care anymore, I don’t care about fashion, I use it as someones who’s doing paintings needs color. I just don’t take fashion to serious anymore. What I’m interested now is the people behind the fashion, who’s working behind the scenes, how do designers collaborate with artists, how do they change the industry? For example Vivien Westwood was doing this project with Model Emma Breschi, the kissing booth, wonderful!
What qualities do you value in an agent or booker?
My agent is like family to me, she’s amazing and this is what I value the most. 2 Years ago I had 3 day production in Paris and I got food poisoning on the first day and she stayed on the phone half of the night just to make me feel better, she even tried to mobilise her French friends to bring me medicine & tea. She’s also brutally honest, sometimes I’m even scared of her and most of the time we don’t share the same opinion but we always figure it out, she’s wonderful.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you were ever given and what advice would you have wished for earlier on in your career?
Not given but experienced: Treat your people right, you are nothing without your team.
Wished for earlier: 100 people, 100 opinions. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.
What is your next big project or goal for your career?
I don’t have a proper website now for 2 years, that should be my next project. I really don’t know what my problem is with this, I just can’t manage to set up a website, unbelievable.
Is there anything in particular you'd like to accomplish?
My own studio, like the one of Georges Méliès and another 20 creatives working in it. A place for exchange and creativity.