Who can call ones self a photographer has to millennials and generation Zers become an increasingly head-scratching, ‘Um, and ahh’ inducing question. As the 21st century saw photography become an ever available medium with the invention of smartphones and social media apps – everyone from your least suspecting aunt with a perchant for travel and taking snaps, to your twelve year old nephew with his streetstyle game to end all games, could now start calling themselves photographer… But what does that mean? And furthermore, what motivates a person to become a photographer these days?
We turned to Berlin-based Suzanne de Carrasco, a portrait and concept photographer, who says that photography to her is a way of stopping the ticking of time. As a natural observer and believer of authenticity, we asked Suzanne to answer some of these questions for us. She also gives us her best tricks on how to relax your subject when working with matter of the human variety. Tells us how COVID-19 has had an impact on her work, and which weird food combinations is she the secret perpetrator of…
Hey Suzanne, so we just quickly want to start off by asking you where you grew up and when did you move to Berlin and why?
Hey dear! I grew up in Hamburg and decided that shortly before graduating high school it would be a great time to leave the nest and move to Berlin. It wasn`t. I promptly moved back to Hamburg because of a job and returned to Berlin a couple of months later to go to a photography school. The second time was a good one.
Do you remember what first drew to photography as a medium?
Actually, I don`t. A good friend of mine would say: when my parents decided to have sex and made me. But if you really want an answer it probably was when I forced my friends at the age of ten to be my models. I always loved to observe the world around me. I guess photography was the way to stop the ticking of time.
You experiment with analog photography, scans, and materials in some of your works… How do you think the medium of photography has changed since its inception, and what are some of the positive and negative aspects?
That’s a tough one. Photography became an ever visible medium. Everyone can take photos now. When photography was invented in the early 19th century only a few could take photographs. As smartphones came onto the market the value of photographs dropped. So we as photographers and artists who work with photography need to find a way to find value in photography again. And the most important question I always ask myself is: how can we make the world a little bit better and help the planet resist our brutality even though we don‘t take documentary photographs?
You work with Berlin-based musicians and artists creating portraits… Can you share some tricks that you have learned about how to relax and best capture your subject matter?
To spend time together. To go on an adventure. To drink beer. To take a walk. To have fun. To be barefooted. Take your time. It doesn‘t make sense to rush. Portraits will always be better and more authentic in the end if both sides of the camera trust each other.
What impact has COVID-19 had on your work & what have you been doing to get by?
Coming from a very privileged perspective, I can say that my work changed a lot over the last year. I slowly found my way of showing the planet the love I have for her. I started to be in nature a lot again, to play with my childish fantasy in the best way and to start creating visions for myself and a better world. Financially yeah, well, I guess we all know that it has been a tough time… But we shouldn‘t forget that there are a lot of parts of the world and even in our own city where people suffer a lot more. So keep your head high. It is okay to feel the pain but we shouldn‘t forget about the others.
Once we are able to travel again, where’s the first place you’ll go?
What’s a weird food combination that you somehow love?
I guess my roommate would say: she doesn‘t combine. She just eats small spoonfuls of everything that’s in the fridge and is happy.
What’s the first book you read this year?
I started the year with three books: Der Pilz am Ende der Welt by Anna Tsing, Alle Menschen sind sterblich by Simone de Beauvoir and Assata by Assata Shakur.
If corona were a lover what would their name be
Corinna. We weren‘t monogamous.
If you could rate Berlin’s art scene on a scale of pizza – Gazzo being 5 and Vivo being 1 – where on the scale would it fall?
It is a constant battle between all frozen pizza at the supermarket.
Name the best three places in Berlin to scan & develop film:
Can you tell us a little bit about the person in this photo and the backstory of the portrait…
That is actually a funny story. One night I went for a walk and came by an old established pub in Neukölln. A blonde woman was sitting at the bar smoking a cigarette. Except for her, the place was empty. I stopped walking and knocked on the door. She pulled me a beer, gave me a cigarette and we talked for hours. The days after that I spent a lot of time in that pub with her and all the daily regulars. I had such a great time. She tells the best stories. A filmmaker should really make a movie about her!
One day I asked her if she would be part of a new project, especially because I like working with ordinary people more than with models. I crave authenticity. So two friends of mine, Madou Kotzke and Paula Greulich, and I created that look for her. The costume mostly came from my own wardrobe. She isn‘t actually half bold and normally she has a beautiful nose. But we decided to make an alien out of her. And she loved it!