Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Interview with Anke Grünow

Welcome back to Dresden (Germany) based analog photographer Anke Grünow. Anke told us 5 reasons why she's still shooting film. And today, we asked her more about herself and her passions for film photography.

Hi Anke, can you tell us more about you?
Hello, I think the most important thing you need to know about me is my name: Anke. Apart from that, everything you need to know is in my photographs and in my words. You see, I'm always pretty bad at talking about myself but I'll give it a try nonetheless.

I'm a Dresden (Germany) based 24-year-old student of British Cultural Studies and Modern German Literary Studies. I don't like my studies too much but at least they feed me with one of the things I can't live without: words. Other things I can't or don't want to live without are: photography, music and light. Oh, one of my guilty pleasures: an Internet connection. I'm sometimes jokingly being called "Internet 2.0" but I can laugh about it since I'm sure this term could be applied to a lot of us so-called "digital natives".

How did you first get into photography? And since when did you do film photography?
When I grew up and my family and I went on holidays, there weren't any digital cameras around. In order to show others what we did on holidays, in the sun, my mom would take pictures and stage awful family portraits, you know, those that almost always look forced. So when I went on school trips or on holidays with only my sister, I also took pictures. Some time later, my mom bought a digital camera, things got weird, a picture mattered even less than before, simply because we weren't able to touch the outcome anymore.

I moved to London when I was 18 and only had a horrible digital compact camera with me. After a while, I bought a DSLR and was content with the results. After 1.5 years in London, I moved back to my home town, began taking photographs at concerts and was more than happy with the pictures I took. However, I have to admit that I was never an avid user of Photoshop simply because I wasn't as talented with post processing - and I felt my photos lacked something, a certain colour, depth, grain, a sense of having been and longing.

From an early age, I wrote, mostly short stories, in order to show people what the world looked like through my eyes and to document what I felt. My writing can be quite demanding so I sought different ways to show what the world looks like through my eyes, without a filter, without having to spend a lot of time with post processing (I admire people who can pull that off but I'm just not made for it myself).

In early 2010, I can't exactly recall the reasons why, I decided to buy a film camera and stumbled upon a Canon AE-1 Program with a 50mm f/1.4 lens on eBay. The day I got the first roll of film developed and held the prints in my hands, I was gobsmacked: I could finally show others what I see and how. I've been sticking with film photography ever since and I still shoot almost only with my 50mm lens.

What film cameras do you use and which is your favourite?
I have some film cameras sitting on my shelf, all of which I have used: a Canon AE-1 Program, a Canon A-1, a Haiou Seagull 4A, a Nishika 3D camera, a Zenza Bronica SQ-Ai and a Zenit B.

My favourite camera out of these will always be the Canon AE-1 Program because it's as I said, the film camera I started out with. However, I rarely use it nowadays since I have turned to the A-1 and the Bronica, the latter of which is just pure love. Just listening to the sound of the shutter gives me shivers.

What’s your personal style when it comes to photography?
I would say it's a style one could name as "documenting" and it's a rather intimate and sensitive approach to the world I live in. In retrospect, my personal style has been, in its core, the same ever since I first took a camera in my hands. Though I don't have a problem with conceptual photography, I prefer to shoot "out of the hip" which is why you rarely see me leave the house without my camera, just like you'll never find me leaving the house without me having pen and paper in my pocket.

What gives you inspiration? And what does film photography mean to you?
It might sound a bit boring but what inspires me the most is life, people, light. It's the little things, it's all about the moments in between, it's about showing the moments before an arrival or a departure. Literature, music and movies, of course, play an important role, too. I like Goddard movies, literature by Banana Yoshimoto, Haruki Murakami and Paul Auster because of the way they make me feel; I can relate to them, I sometimes find myself in a nostalgic mood after grasping the story I was just told.

A lot of the times though, I see something that inspires me and, without any relation to my previous thoughts or ideas, it's as if something hit me in the head with a brick and I just do. I bleed myself into my photographs as much as I bleed myself onto paper when writing.

Film photography means a lot to me.
I found out that there are literally no pictures of me apart from one from when I was a baby until I turned three. It feels like a part of my identity is missing, as weird as it sounds. So by means of film photography, I try to reconstruct myself, I try to document my body and what I felt. As I already wrote, I can only do that with film. With something I'm able to touch in the end.

All of the people I have taken a lot of photographs of mean a lot to me. I like taking pictures of the people I like and love which involves me watching them first, how they react, how they walk while trying to find and show others the essence of how beautiful they are - in all they are. It was only in summer 2012 though that I found out how much I can (literally and not literally speaking) touch people by taking photographs of them and how much this says about my relationship with them. I also learned that it can be the same vice-versa and this is something that can't go away.

As pathetic as it may sound, to me it's the ultimate way of saying "I'm alive, I lived through this, I experienced this, I met and fell in love with these people and moments and with the light on my skin. I actually lived and survived my self." It's also the ultimate way of saying "thank you."

Thanks Anke for taking the time with us.

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