“I always wanted to visualize my dreams and fantasies. Photography is the best way to make dreams come true, even if it’s far away from reality and logic.”
“In my mind Polaroid photography is a sort of ritual. I think that our society celebrates the moment less and less.”
Interview with Katja Sonnewend
Katja, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
I took my first picture when I was five years old I think. It was with the Polaroid Land Camera of my father. My model was a squirrel. After taking the Polaroid it ran away, but I looked at my picture and it was still there. This was the most fascinating moment in my life as a photographer I think.
Why did you become a photographer?
My father is a drawer, sculptor and stage designer. My mother is a painter and object artist. I did not have much choice than to play my own part in the art movement of my family.
What does photography mean to you and what do you want to say/transmit with your pictures?
As a child I was fascinated by “Alice in Wonderland”. She was living in a world of imagination she created herself. I always wanted to visualize my dreams and fantasies. Photography is the best way to make dreams come true, even if it’s far away from reality and logic.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Diane Arbus – always fascinated by the strange and different.
Imogen Cunningham – her big eye for the small things.
Eva Besny – she was assisting me with my graduation work in Amsterdam, admirable woman, great photographer.
Nan Goldin, Desiree Dolron, Guy Bourdin, Irving Penn, Andy Warhol, Ryan McGinley – to name just a few.
“I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.”
What’s your favorite photography quote?
A good photograph is knowing where to stand. Ansel Adams
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
If I’m in the right moment at the right place with the right person, I know it will be a good picture. I do not plan, I live with my eyes open.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
Photograph what you see if you think it’s worth a picture. Love your work and don’t fake. If you fake do it in a good way.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
Technically I am not very focused. My work is based on emotions and not on numbers.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
Humor and patience. Both is always good if you work with other people!
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes? Especially keeping in mind the over abundance of photographic imagery in today’s society.
A great photo needs no explaination.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
In my close proximity, among my friends, spending time with my family, reading books, watching movies and travelling. My life is inspiring enough, every single day.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
My Polaroid cameras: SX 70, Image 1200 and Big Shot.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
What photography book would you recommend?
There are many. But the last book I bought was “Whistle for the Wind” by Ryan McGinley – simply beautiful!
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?
Don’t take photography too seriously, it’s actually just a piece of paper with an image on it. Bringing it to life is the secret you need to disclose.
More about Katja Sonnewend