WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY
I was born in Hamburg, Germany and raised outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE BFA PHOTOGRAPHY PROGRAM AT PARSONS AND HOW’S IT GOING SO FAR?
Parsons was part of my plan to live in New York City. I had heard enough good things about the school to push me to apply, and it became my first choice. I had my heart set on living in New York City almost out of the blue – I’m not one of those people who always wanted to move here. I never had any inclination to do so until the year I applied, I just wanted to stay living abroad. But I just suddenly decided – as I do with most big decisions – I wanted to move to the city. I guess it had to do with being surrounded by a group of artists in Tel Aviv. They always talked about it – how they wanted to move to NYC, how much they love the city, or how much they wanted to visit or live there. And I was shooting a lot of photography at the time, just amateur stuff. I knew very little about cameras, but it became a passion and I decided on it as a career move. So everything kind of unfolded, as things do, and I ended up here. And it has been pretty awesome. I’ve gotten so much out of this school, and the life I built here, more then I could have anticipated. It kind of blows my mind how much I’ve grown up in the last four years, how much we all have.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS AND WHY?
Right now it’s my thesis course. I have George Pitts, and I think he’s the cats pajamas. He has such a calming demeanor, it puts you at ease. And it’s very comforting, in all the chaos, having a professor like him take a genuine interest in my work. The class has allowed me to build my thesis the way I want to, at the pace and process I work best at. I’ve been given a necessary freedom in the work I am producing, and I really appreciate that.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY?
One summer, when I was around ten years old, I was walking with my father through a city in Austria and – probably out of boredom – he told me that if I jumped into a public fountain he would buy me a camera. So I jumped into the fountain, and he bought me a camera. It was a 35mm Canon – I’m part of the final remnants of a generation who grew up without digital cameras, so I learned through film. And since then I carried photography with me as I grew up. It is one of the only elements of my life that has stuck with me.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN TEN YEARS? WHAT ARE YOUR PRIMARY GOALS?
I really have no idea where I see myself – I don’t know where I’ll be in the next year. But I know I want to be a documentary photographer. And I want to travel. So if the stars align and my dreams come true I’ll make a living as a documentary photographer, hired to be sent on location to document people/places/events around the world to be used to tell, or help tell, stories. I also aim to become a very good at swing dancing. And acting.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS SPARK YOUR IDEAS?
People do. I love people. And stories. And when I hear all these different stories, and about these different lives, separate from my own, I get ideas – ideas on what I could document that would be interesting, what kinds of stories or lives I could photograph that would make people feel like they’re getting a rare chance to see into a world that is hidden, overlooked or out of reach for them.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU AS AN ARTIST? AND WHAT ARTISTS HAVE INFLUENCED YOU THE MOST?
I’m inspired the most by traveling – I thrive as an artist when I’m in an unfamiliar place or situation (as many of us do). So even if I’m home in NYC, as long as I’m finding something new – something out of the ordinary for me – then I can feel inspired, and that’s when my best shots are taken. I’m drawn to the darker sides of life and living, to the imperfections and irregularities, especially within people. My continuous “behind the scenes/backstage” work doesn’t just focus on the unpolished reality of entertainment scenes, but also in settings like hospitals, farms and homes.
My favorite part about being a photographer is that I have the ability to enter into these different worlds and become directly involved in a scene I otherwise wouldn’t be a part of. Photography motivates my curiosity and has pushed me through to so many interesting situations and people. I’m able to use the innate chameleon side of myself.
I’ve always been in love with Philip Lorca-Dicorcia’s work, which definitely inspired my own work in the beginning of my time at Parsons. But I moved away from that after realizing I have very little patience in being in control of my compositions. My talent lies in un-staged – for the most part – documentary work. When I was introduced to Guillermo Cervera’s work, and hearing him speak about his war photography, that really ignited something in my own work and a realization of what direction I wanted to take. Alex Webb creates such beautiful vibrant images – they’re full of layers, movement and environment – which is something I have been trying to emulate more and more. And Nan Goldin is a big influence of mine: I am constantly documenting my own weird world within the lives, events and environments I surround myself with. But I feel that myself and my work is constantly changing, and so artistic influences are as well.