You know her as @laomapupi on Instagram – a weird, strange name? Guess what? It was created by a Hawaiian name generator! Our latest interview guest, Steffi with real name, was invited to join me on the couch this time. Her account follows a very well orchestrated light dramaturgy – both capturing the seaside town of Stralsund and edgy capital Berlin. We talked about the fragrance of her home town, colour aversions and, of course, the perfect image.
Looking at your photos one can see that you are oscillating between Berlin and the Baltic Sea. Are these your two poles? And what is your link with the Baltic Sea?
The two poles are home (in German Heimat) and chosen home. Berlin is my chosen home and Stralsund is my home. I would not go as far saying Berlin is my second home, but it is not unfamiliar to me. It was a great feeling arriving here. My heart is attached to Stralsund because that’s the place I grew up in.
When I was a teenager I always wanted to leave Stralsund, but that has changed since I work – I am really more enjoying the silence. Whenever I arrive I instantly have the salty scent in my nose. I was not aware of that flavour before and my Stralsund friends there don’t even realize it. But the whole town smells of harbour and when I close my eyes that’s the scent of home. The old town is really beautiful with it’s small houses and lanes. (Sighs.)
The architecture especially seems to tempt you, doesn’t it?
I like these colourful gables and old brick houses standing in a row. It is creating nice contrasts, because the old town is mixed with new buildings that stand besides the old brick houses and then you have old and new clashing.
How do you find your images?
I usually have a plan. When the weather is fine for instance, I get up early in the morning and walk to the harbor. I start at the harbor and wiggle my way up. Recently I found a street that I never explored before. All of my last photos were very targeted. In Berlin it’s more like discovering certain quarters. I don’t drive an hour for just one specific building. When I go on a photo tour I rather prepare mentally. I really love taking photos in the early morning when it’s empty and the light is beautiful.
There are occasionally portraits on your gallery. Are people a typical subject?
Yes, it can be. I like trying out portraits sometimes, but it does not 100% fit to my Instagram style. I take portraits from time to time, but seldomly post them. It took a while to develop a look that I like and that inspires me.
I wanted to talk to you about your look. Your photos are relatively dark with earthy colours. Are you applying specific filters?
The filter is M5 by VSCO. I export to Instagram and work on the finish there. For example darkening shadows, highlight and that’s how my look evolves. I use other filters as well for instance on green colour. I always seek to have a fixpoint. Sometimes I walk around with the cam in front of my eyes, looking what happens and how do things appear. As soon a I found the right cutout, I take a photo. I like a lot of sky and calm compositions and try to shot wide angle.
Which camera do you use?
I started photographing analogue during my professional training as a media designer, where I was taught photography. Just as an exercise I took many analogue photos and purchased a Nikon during that time. Then iphones started. Soon I was taking all photos with my iphone. Later I had the taste for photographing and got myself an Olympus. When I take snap shots spontaneously it is still with the iphone.
What are you doing when you don’t take photos?
I put my feet up! Also I like going out with friends, we often meet at the regulars’ table or brunch. I watch heaps of movies, at home and in the cinema.
My last cool cinema experience was with “The Invisible Guest” (by Oriol Paulo). It is a Spanish movie, somewhat a psycho thriller. You have no idea who is the mad one and then ther is that twist, where the crisps fell off my mouth. But I don’t want to spoil it. Victoria (by Sebastian Schipper) was not bad neither, I had the feeling to be among them. To really experience that situation is really exciting.
Are you a traveller?
Not so much, I rather go home to Stralsund. I am more of the cold Northern type. More than 30 degrees are not necessary. I would love to travel to Iceland one day.
What is a real good photo for you?
It needs to have a focus and a clear subject. For me it’s the balance of many different things, as well colours though I personally don’t like Green and Red. Especially when it comes to red roofs I have to reduce the red. The whole mood must be good about a perfect photo, like use of light and the cutout.
Thank you Steffi!
Steffi’s favourite Igers