Guest Contribution by Predrag Pajdic
The last time I interviewed Petra Reimann, there was a sense of being left with the thoughts of, well, how much is a camel in Cairo and what plastic surgery lessons have been learned and then, by whom? But none of these subjects were answered in the most recent conversation with Petra who instead, delights and teases through an understated presence, which only serves to enhance the magnificence of her images. In a move away from her previous architectural themes, Petra’s most recent work takes the viewer into a sense of both uncomfortable non-identity of shrouded faces but also heart stopping beauty through working with some of the most incredible faces and bodies of today. (Who says that Facebook is a waste of time?)
There is a very detailed portrayal of a brand new swimwear collection. Yes, you read that correctly; a swimwear collection but with a difference. This series of photographs steps out from the Adriatic and onto the page with both mystery and magic and of course, bodies to die for. The colours which have been sparse in her previous work punch you in their intensity, but it’s a pleasurable bruising, one you might be forgiven to want to have committed to tattoo, just to remember its passion…
In a different series, Petra Reimann captures the hesitation of a moment on a London Street with hints of spring echoing through the light and colours, reflected in an urban fashion shoot. But there’s something else there, something edgy and yet still, softly beautiful.
Brava! Petra; the palette runs rich. It’s always a pleasure to interview her.
Were you always interested in taking pictures?
I think I was always interested in watching beautiful things, no matter if architecture, paintings, ads, life on the streets - even a bin is interesting to look at for me. Somehow I am constantly scanning the world around me, my eyes are like a big sponge. I started photographing with kind of a professional camera when I moved to Berlin about 6 years ago. It is still my raging passion.
Where does your love for photography come from?
Somehow you stop the time for a single moment with every image plus it leaves something to the imagination of the viewer - that is what I love. A place, a person, a moment is never the same within the next seconds, hours or days. I find it always interesting to see through other photographers eyes how they see and capture things and what kind of feelings they transfer. I think photography is never what you see, it’s more who the photographer is.
For some time you were focusing on spaces, architecture and city landscapes. More recently you started to work with models. Why?
I am a person who loves variety in life - a change is natural for me. It is also a part of improving oneself in different fields. To me a model’s body or face is very related to architecture and structures or shapes so I guess it was obvious and I always loved images of people - no matter if it’s fashion, street or reportage photography.
What inspires you?
Inspiration is everywhere and I am not even sure where exactly it comes from because I am interested in so many things and don't focus on one. Music, exhibitions, magazines, foreign cities, cultures, films, fashion, design, scents - so where to start? But most of all I'm inspired by everyday life on the street - I pretty much live in the NOW.
Recently one of your images was made into a wallpaper issue? How did that happen?
Yes, and how cool is that? Jonathan Nodrick from Rollout.ca spotted the original work in my albums on facebook and transformed it into a graphic pattern. It was shown during the last interior design show in Toronto and finally chosen by Holt Renfrew (Canada's largest luxury fashion retailer) for their spring campaign window displays at all 9 stores across Canada. It also made it to AZURE magazine this month which makes me very proud. I took the image at the Le Corbusier apartment tower in Berlin.
Where do you find your models?
Social networking - I think Facebook or other model pages are a very good to get in contact with models, no matter if they are professional or not. But I also love to work with people, who are not professional models, lots of my latest works I did with Tom who is working as a DJ and also designs a fantastic T-Shirt collection. I met him quite accidentally through a mutual friend and as we were talking he told me that he is interested to take pictures - and so we started with a shooting for an exhibition work with lots of Huskies - the result was so fantastic that we both decided to produce more work together - meanwhile he is a bit of a Muse to me I guess.
If you could choose only one great photographer whose work means a lot to you, who would that be?
There are too many I am inspired by but as I said earlier, that I live in the present the photography of Mustafa Sabbagh is the one that inspires and fascinates me mostly for many years now. I am happy to know him personally and also had the chance to work with him. It is extremely exciting to see how he starts a project as well as how he works with the models creating such a special atmosphere which you can obviously see and feel on his final images. He is teaching me so much. This experience is beyond any price. It also shows his extraordinary generosity and unselfish personality. And he is funny, easygoing and sexy... a declaration of love? YES!
I can’t help but notice that your recent work has moved to an extremely colourful palette, after many years of black & white? How did that happen? Are you in love by any chance? Or maybe it's a great weather we had this spring? I truly love black & white for that certain atmosphere and kind of timelessness and sometimes I wish I had contact lenses or glasses which could show every day of my life in black & white. For many people colours are very important, they feel happy and get in a good mood when they see red roses, a cherry blossom tree or green fields - somehow that never affects me too much, I see life and everything in it more as light and shadow. But for some images, especially people/fashion photography colour works really good to underline the atmosphere so I am trying to play around with that as well. And I am almost always in love (shame you didn't ask with who or what) and yes, spring 2011 is absolutely amazing!
Where would you like to see your work?
Happy to have it accessible whenever I want to see it on my screen - but why not also on milk cartons across New York?
So with whom are you in love?
The secret of having a personal life is not answering too many questions about it. THANK YOU!