“I don’t like to show the beauty of cute little faultless girls. My photographs have their own look. There is a dramatic exposure and I prefer models with rough edges – they’re characters with recognition value. Nevertheless they’re beautiful.”
Jennifer Harnack (born in 1990) is a German portrait and fashion photographer, currently based in Hamburg (Germany).
She doesn’t have a typical education at university but worked as an assistance for photographer Olaf Kroenke, based in Hamburg, who taught her about photography.
“Always develop yourself, never stand still.”
Interview with Jennifer Harnack
Jennifer, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
That’s hard to say. There are many moments I’ll probably never forget. Recently I shot the “Dandy Diary Fashion Week Opening Party” in Berlin under the motto “punk” and I would say, that was a memorable night. The location was an abandoned and shabby house, with dixie toilets outside, many interesting personalities with many different hair colors. At the end I had to take cover to defend my camera from the beer showers. All in all, it was such a cool and especially wild party with a good result: I love the pictures I took that night. They’re so authentic, show emotions and express life in all its facets.
Why did you become a photographer?
I think photography is a way to express yourself. You can tell stories with your pictures, you can show the people your view of life and how you think about things. That is why I wanted to become a photographer. And because I can see so much naked skin – of course.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
I’m a huge fan of Terry Richardson. I think he is a great storyteller. He knows how to build scenes on a picture in order to polarize – without a lot of hoopla. Usually Terry’s pictures are very minimalistic and reduced but still so intense. He’s great.
“I don’t work off lights and angles; I work off emotions. A mood that I create.”
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
My photography isn’t the most commercial. I don’t like to show the beauty of cute little faultless girls. My photographs have their own look. There is a dramatic exposure and I prefer models with rough edges – they’re characters with recognition value. Nevertheless they’re beautiful – from the skinny boy who doesn’t have one breast hair up to a homeless punk with dirt under his fingernails.
I think a big content of my creative process was and is my work as an event photographer. I shot many different fashion parties in the past and aside from socializing with many people who influenced my process later, it made me more self-confident and more focused. I think that are important components which make a huge impact on my way of working.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
My former teacher once said, that it’s important to have your idols and at the beginning it’s absolutely normal if you’re interested in trying to copy them – it belongs to the journey of your development. However it’s also important that you find some day your own handwriting while this journey so that your idols are no longer an original you’re used to copy but rather they’re more an inspiration for you to create something new. Find your own niche and your own photographic voice – photographic voice – ah, I like this word.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photojournalist need?
He/she should simply burn for his/her job.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
A great photo should tell a story, but also give the viewer the leeway for own interpretations. And maybe it should contain tits or a penis.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I draw inspiration from everywhere for example from the street, a party or a blog. That depends.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I’m a fan of “less is more”. I don’t like thousands of lamps on my set also because I did the experience that my models feel more comfortable if it’s not too huge. Generally I’m working with my Canon 60d, some lenses to change and a flash light. There is nothing more I need.
What’s your favourite website about photography?
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a photographer?
Everything you do, you should do with passion. Many artists forget that somewhere along their way though it’s the most important and most precious thing an artist could have. Don’t loose your passion, even if it takes a bit longer ’till you find attention for your work. Believe in yourself.