How I started with Staged Photography

This is the last series I worked on during my last Semester at University. I was really happy to get such good feedback from my teachers and fellow students and also from so many of you on Instagram. I was also extremely happy for all your purchase requests. I felt extremely honoured! As previously mentioned in older posts, throughout this BA we have gotten the possibility to work on many different assignments within the fields of Portrait, Staged, Fashion, Street, Documentary... At some point and without being completely aware of it, I ended up being more and more drawn to Portraits and Staged Photography. 


How did it all really start?


In the beginning of our studies we had a Portrait class with weekly assignments, it was pretty intense, but we learned so much. Our teacher was really good and had worked in the Portrait and Fashion business for years. The most important question throughout this course was the following: What makes a portrait a good portrait? This is a very big and difficult question and many artist and photographers would not necessarily share the same opinions and often the technical part, is not the most important one. It depends on what kind of portrait you are trying to achieve and the purpose behind it, but usually when portraying a person, it is important to get their essence, that one moment when the person you are photographing gives you something personal, this cannot always be achieved, but is essential to make the portrait a good one. 


By seeing and talking about so many different portraits, you end up somehow developing an eye that allows you to recognise when a portrait is good or not. It takes a lot of practice and of course this is a never ending learning process. You can never know it all, but one thing is for sure, you can always learn something from someone who has been working in the business and has a lot of experience.


Apart from Photographing strangers on the street, and doing self-portraits, we had a 3 week-assignment which was about portraying someone we knew really well outdoors and indoors with different light situations, etc. Though it was hard to come up with something new week after week, these were really good exercises because they really pushed us to be creative.


My interest in Staged Photography came a little later in another semester when I joined the lecture "Staging a Narrative: between fantasy and reality" at my University. I was introduced to many great artists and photographers who really inspired me. I named a few in one of my previous posts, you can check it out here. Because of this, I started staging more and more images with Olja for Uni assignments and for fun. The daily inspiration on Instagram also encouraged me to try new things each time.


Why do I usually hide Olja's face in my art work?


A lot of people have asked me this question, both at Uni and online. To be honest, in the beginning it wasn't really a conscious decision. Somehow I was more attracted to the idea of keeping the identity of the person in the image hidden, I thought it was more mysterious and that it could make others relate to the feeling or mood more easily as anyone could be part of the story. Portraits are usually all about the person you are photographing, in my case it's not just about that, it's also about myself, my world, but at the same time our world. At Uni some other fellows students thought my intention was to keep part of Olja's identity for myself, instead of giving it to the viewer right away. Though I honestly hadn't thought about it, I kind of liked this idea and I guess it did make a lot of sense. Photography is a learning process and every time you go out and shoot, you'll be aware of new things and learn something new. Thanks to these studies I think I have been able to learn a lot in a short amount of time. It has also helped me to find my path and interest.  


What is this series about?


My way of working is usually very spontaneous, sometimes I have a specific idea of what I want to do, but very often I realise that my work happens without being fully aware of it. It happens mostly when I travel and find inspiring locations. Since myself and Olja always travel together, whenever I see the right spot, I will quickly come up with something. I'm usually drawn to interesting light situations or graphical spots with lines and geometry. This series was shot at a Studio in Berlin and though I already new more or less what the location looked like, I came up with the poses and approach on set. This series is about self exploration and human behaviour, depicted in a surreal world where emotions are in conflict with each other, continuously searching for balance. I don't know how it is for you, but I find it really difficult to talk or write about what I create. Another good thing about my studies is that I was pushed to write artist statements and proposals that described my approach and work. A lot of artists find this part to be the hardest, but it's very important as it can help both, you and your viewers, understand your work better. 


If you have any questions or thoughts, I'll be happy to read them!