Portraits

Das Rhein Rauschen: a multi-media journey

Das Rhein Rauschen was my 2016 multi-media exhibition in Basel, Switzerland. Translated literally, this title means The Rhine Rush, speaking to the rushing sound it makes as it flows – as well as offering a little play on words around the idea of rushing into something or to do something. With the curation expertise and support of Emily Bruner throughout the whole process, the exhibition took form. 

female photographer, Basel, Switzerland, empowering photography, artistic photography, monochrome photography From an artistic perspective, I was looking to somehow create a new river perfume and my aim was to translate as many sensual encounters with this wild river as possible: sounds, sensations, colours, stories, scents. Rivers are ever-changing and ungraspable and, yet, such a fundamental, ancient, and constant feature in our collective human history: from drinking to washing to burials to songs…

But these water spaces are definitively contained, and we often perceive them only in terms of their boundaries, their banks.

female photographer, Basel, Switzerland, empowering photography, artistic photography, monochrome photography

So, it was essential that my own explorations would take the form of a multi-media project – leaving the many aspects of the river to roam freely through my work, uncurtailed by a single medium. 

To achieve this, I hired a diver who could move like a whale, allowing us to filter out the essential ingredients for the river perfume I was creating. And I cast a woman’s body and its fragments became seashell-like, papier-maché objects.

female photographer, Basel, Switzerland, empowering photography, artistic photography, monochrome photography, female singer, female artistsDuring this process, I also photographed the model with her body casts – one of the many portraits of women I have loved capturing over the years. Plus, I wrote a river soundscape which was then interpreted by the amazing vocal artist, Alessandra EramoAltogether, this was a truly creative flow. The different mediums – photography, sculpture, drawing, film, and sound – emerged from the multi-sensory approach that I had started with to create the scent in the first place.

This scent formed the starting point, and centre, of the whole project: especially the exhibition at Villa Renata, Basel.

I loved sharing my initial research with the great nose and perfume maker, Andreas Wilhelm.  He actually described his position within the project as that of a ‘sponge’ in our collaborative process, which I find very fitting. The direction I chose with him was very close to a natural imprint and, therefore, close to the other mediums I used, like photography and sculptural casts. 

The 50ml perfume bottle is currently sold out, but the limited edition published with backbonebooks – a beautifully boxed set containing 10ml as a river-roll-on, an original papier-mache body fragment, a mobile to make yourself, and a photographic leaflet – is still available. You can purchase on request via email to hello@ines-l.com or via the backbonebooks shop.

female photographer, Basel, Switzerland, empowering photography, artistic photography, monochrome photography, female artists

I hope you will enjoy exploring this part of my work as a space within which to perceive yourself as a river and its shore at the same time. It’s an invitation for you to connect to our environment in an empathic and multisensory way, in order to find new ways to care and to listen.

 

Family portraiture: capturing the beauty

Family portraiture is a fine art.

It’s about getting close, but still keeping that little bit of space. In fact, I believe it’s the perception of a related outsider that best captures family moments: very much present, yet at that crucial distance. 

grandmother portrait, family portraiture, monochrome portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist Within my own family, the photographic act rarely takes centre stage, it’s more like briefly coming up for air or jotting down a quick note, while being immersed in the flow of things. So, getting round to capturing family portraiture always needs a specific type of urgency in order to make it happen, like when we gathered to photograph my grandmother shortly before she passed away.

During this particular session, in front of my great grandmother’s family home, she urged me to photograph her sons for her. To create the desired set-up with my uncles, I needed my grandmother’s personal commission.

And, I have to say, it was a truly empowering experience for me to be directing them as a professional photographer after having always been their little niece.musician portrait, family portraiture, monochrome portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist  

It was a brand new dynamic and the resulting images give just a trace of a specific moment in time that will never occur again.

Because I have a deep respect for family constellations and the art called for in capturing their representation, I was very happy and honoured to be commissioned for family portraiture after a friend’s daughter’s confirmation last autumn. Coming into this group of family members and close friends, it felt very precious to be trusted with such an important job. The process was absolutely magical – and a lot of fun for everyone involved.

I could feel that I became a witness and a vessel for what they wanted to express and share with one another.

portraits of women, family portraiture, baby portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist For my 2012 solo show at the M-Museum in Leuven, Belgium, I took parallel exhibitions as starting points for my installation Poem to be sung. One was the Sol Lewitt retrospective from which I derived the shape alphabet, and the other was a Madonna sculpture from the museum’s Medieval collection. Ultimately, my Artist with removed objects and child  photograph is a dialogue of both these influences, taking a unique place in my growing collection of portraits of women. Plus, I had a 3 year-old boy of my own at home while preparing for this show – my first big solo show in a museum.

So this photograph most definitely captured my creative process in a moving and personal way too.

woman portrait, family portraiture, monochrome portrait, artistic portrait, female photographer, female artist Ultimately, what I’ve found through my empowering photography work, is that people want to be shown with their closest family members. For example, I was working on a portrait of my godmother, a Finnish priest living in Vienna. After our session, she called for her sons, and then her husband, to come in too. It felt to me as if her self image was only complete when surrounded by her loved ones. We are social animals after all. 

And, as for me – the photographer in the room – what’s special and satisfying is the inherent trust that I sense being extended towards me. Being in such a situation gives me the confidence to involve myself, respectfully, and arrange beautiful family portraits according to what feels right.

The Magic of Portrait Photography (Part Two)

My portraits of women are a cornerstone of what I do. In that work, I am often hired to do a single portrait, which then expands into a pair or group portrait – this is down to the natural, evolving need to subsequently show that same person in connection with their products or within their team.

While in a single portrait session there is an intimate space between the person I am photographing and my camera, especially in terms of what she wants to represent professionally, as soon as there are two or more subjects, their shared relationship comes into play.

portraits of women, empowering photography, Berlin

Channeling my empowering photography ethos, my aim was to show Caroline Schneider, founder of Sternberg Press, as the true art and discourse-related thinker, as well as leader that she is.

When I took this solo portrait for Sternberg – a publishing house for artistic and cultural criticism, creative non-fiction, and literary and experimental fiction founded by Caroline in New York in 1999 – it gave way to a team shoot where I captured an even fuller picture of their work environment and the dynamics exist between them. It is in their creative home on Karl-Marx-Allee, amidst their books, that I took this series.

group portrait, empowering photography, Berlin

I wanted to illustrate how Caroline has a very strong relationship to each and every single title published by the press, plus with the vital, dynamic team she has carefully built over the years in this truly unique place. Her beauty shines.

Indeed, once you start representing a person in a professional context, there is always that wider spectrum or bigger picture which wants to be shown to the world. And, ideally, all of these photographs should be taken by the same person, so that they can create a cohesive vision – one which aesthetically becomes one body. That’s where I come in!

art curator, women portrait, women monochromeIn this vein, I’ve also photographed Eva Meyer-Hermann: a curator and art historian who decided to become a curator for artists, as her way of responding to the political developments in the art world which have led to its general lack of real exchange and mediation.

And it was precisely at this special moment of building her new identity – and website – that I came into the picture, with my personal branding photography, with the aim of communicating both Eva herself and her practice to a wider audience.

personal branding photography, portraits of women, empowering photography, art curator

We spent a couple of hours together in her office – first alone, then with her associate curator, Johannes Schmidt. Every photograph I took for Eva had a different role to play. In the headshot, the aim was to show her as open and smiling, offering an invitation for dialogue.

The other two images show moments of contemplation and creative thinking, as well as her explaining a work of art that is dear to her.

Similarly, I have enjoyed the privilege of capturing Laura Galatti’s portrait. Laura is a Swiss pianist, composer, and politician. After having encountered her and her partner, Christina Thürmer-Rohr, performing Die Kontroverse in the Viennese Liszt-Saal, I had the honour of joining them during rehearsal in their performance space, Akazie 3, here in Berlin Schöneberg.

empowering photography, portraits of women, female pianist, female artistsMy role in facilitating empowering photography here was centred on conveying Laura’s artistry and skill. This type of work presents me with the wonderful challenge of somehow finding a meaningful way to convert aural beauty into a visual medium.

So in my single portraits of Laura, the viewer is able to experience Laura listening to the sound she is producing with a metal sheet. And in her partnered shots, I have sought to communicate her close relationships and dialogues with her instrument, her partner, and the very process of writing music.personal branding photography, portraits of women, empowering photography

Ultimately, it’s all an organic process. During the portrait session, the women I’m photographing talk with me and show me what they are selling or creating or offering. Then, I capture these aspects too.

In fact, in so much of my art photography work to date, I have searched for ways to capture invisible processes within a photographic image, something of an essence that would otherwise be hidden: from plants and fruits, to animals, and nonverbal communication between people.

In this way, I am very versatile in what and how I can photograph, so website photography – as this broad, rich spectrum – just comes naturally to me. 

 

 

Powerful Women: making the invisible visible

Happy Summer Solstice!

I hope you’re enjoying time with friends and feeling ready to explore the world as it continues to reopen. I’m busy putting together the final preparations for my upcoming exhibition, Fluss Frauen Farben. Bilder einer Ausstellung, in Drosendorf, Austria. Please come join me for the opening on July 17th starting at 6pm at the Strandbad Drosendorf .

The exhibition runs until August 8th with several other installations throughout the town square. I’m also excited to share that I’ve created a new artist book for this occasion entitled Fluss Frauen Farben (River Women Colors). For this publication three central women – Anna Soucek, Mella Waldstein and Vesna – have written and contributed texts that accompany and enliven my photographs. They live in or always return to this beautiful region in Austria and I had the special honor of making portraits of them last summer.

As part of Fluss Frauen Farben. Bilder einer Ausstellung, I will be sharing portraiture of some of the fascinating women living in or visiting the area of Drosendorf and so I felt inspired to share more about my process working with women to create empowering photography.

My journey started after I kept meeting incredible women and then would look them up on the web to learn more abut their work and professional life. Over and over, I found images that I felt didn’t really represent them as the complex women I knew them to be. I realized I could support women to take their images back into their own hands.

As our online presence becomes the standard, it’s a space we have to claim.

I believe the older we become as women, the more we have to share. And honestly, I find the invisibility of women in the professional sphere frustrating. I want to create a safe atmosphere that respects which aspects of you that you want to be seen. We can then co-create together a series of portraits that celebrate you both as a professional and powerful authentic woman.

And believe me, I know this is a delicate space. Often, we’re told as women to use images that show us as young, cute and part of a beauty standard. What I’ve found is there is something so much more. Portraiture is a space where we can reflect back to the world what we’ve lived through both personally and professionally.

It’s the journey of taking the invisible and making it visible.

One of my first clients had a lot of images online, but I felt that her existing pictures didn’t truly represent her. We worked together to create a series of portraits for her website and personal branding photography. We discussed her fears, her vision and her specific needs and decided on using several locations to play with. After developing the negatives and sharing the portraits with her, she told me she felt seen for the first time in her life!

We had created images of her that reflected her personal inner strength and related to her professional identity. What a joy to share in this moment with her!

If you’d like to learn more about how we can work together, please contact me. I would also love to hear from you if you plan to meet me in Drosendorf or are interested in ordering a copy of Fluss Frauen Farben.

Wishing you an inspiring summer!

Ines