In other words, who am I?
Finding an answer to this question may not be so easy for some people. For me it took many years to be able to answer this question somewhat satisfactorily. Even without a great deal of thought, I would say that the last 15 years have served the purpose of self-discovery. For a very long time, I was not aware of what I wanted to do professionally, but I was even more aware of what I didn’t want to do. I think this also sounds familiar to some of you? I’ve had many role models over the years, but what good is a role model if you have no idea where and how to start? There are so many things that interest and fascinate me. The stupid thing was that I could never imagine myself following in the footsteps of my idols at that time. So I had a lot of hurdles in my head that I thought were too big to overcome and so I didn’t even start.
The cornerstone was laid when I walked the Way of St. James after graduating from secondary school. That was my first big journey and absolutely formative for my later life! I have rarely encountered so much charity and empathy as I did there. Step by step, the social pressure and everyday frustration dissolves and you reflect on just being human. You go deep inside yourself as if by magic and feel how valuable a personal connection to another individual can be. Today, looking back, I can say that this experience became an ideal for me. The desire to travel was awakened. I wanted to see more of the world right away, but first I had to see how things were going for me. After graduation and some experiences in the world of work, which ended more bad than good, I came to the specialized baccalaureate and subsequently to my first studies as a 3D animation & visual effects artist. Great! I thought to myself. Here we go, out into the big world. With this degree you can definitely pull something off!
Things don’t always turn out the way you think they will
Even though the degree was great and many of my current jobs are based on it, I never got to the point where I could keep up with the demands of the job market. At least that’s what I believed. After an unsuccessful job search, I hired on at a call center. I had no idea! In retrospect, that was the worst time of my life, professionally speaking! A year of stomach aches every time I sat on the bus on the way to work. This was not my world! I wanted to do something where I could personally stand behind it. Only what? I first took a little time off and hitchhiked to Slovenia and back from Italy. In Slovenia I was in the mountains for the first time. There, surrounded by massive rock formations, I felt small and insignificant like a grain of sand in the desert, dominated by Mother Nature. What an incredible feeling! That day I fell in love with the mountains.
A short time later, as if by chance, a former friend called my attention to a vacancy as a volunteer for the Pixel Helper Foundation. The project sounded very cool. We wanted to raise funds to make a ship seaworthy and help with sea rescue by using camera drones. I arranged all the formalities and went to Belgium to live on the ship and start working. However, the motivation quickly ended in frustration as we gradually realized that the project had no chance. Because the actual owner of the ship stopped paying the electricity bill, we had to look for another base after only two weeks. We found this one in Nauen outside Berlin. This was the beginning of a completely new chapter in my life.
The call of freedom
I was away from home, unattached and free, with a feeling inside me that I could now really try things out. In Nauen, I lived on the sanctuary of the Tier- und Naturschutzbund Berlin Brandenburg. We helped with the care of the animals and were allowed to live there for free. What a great coincidence! The project with the Pixel Helper Foundation came to an end quite quickly, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunities with Berlin and Potsdam on my doorstep. I also had the time and opportunity to travel to Vietnam for 6 weeks and explore the country by motorcycle. To this day, I am very grateful for the opportunities and experiences I was given in Nauen!
Nauen is nevertheless a gray, depressing city with many frustrated residents, which made the stay there a special time. Even though the people I met there sometimes held difficult opinions, at the same time I got to know them as very loving people. What a crazy contrast! At that time, I got in touch with photography through my roommate and was able to really dive into it for the first time. Through my studies I already had experience in film production and produced first videos, among others for the Gnadenhof. Even though filming is still an integral part of my life today, photography captivated me right from the first second! For the first time in my life I had the feeling, this is it!
It was now time to bring my previous experiences together and think about how I could package it all professionally? I decided to start my own business as a freelance photographer and video producer. With support from the agency for employment, I worked towards the startup from then on. This included start-up seminars, business plan coaching, meetings with banks and an advanced training as an assistant director at Filmhaus Babelsberg to get to know the structures of a film production better. This was a particularly exciting time, during which I was able to work 2 times for the Berlinale Talents in the Camera-Studio section, was allowed to help as a setrunner on a shoot with Clueso and Sido, and at the end of the course took over the direction of a short film production. Finally, the start-up failed because of KfW-Bank, but in retrospect I’m really grateful today. It was just too early at that time.
I found a job as a video producer near my old home and moved back for the time being. This chapter was closed for me. Before my new job started, I took the opportunity to travel through Serbia, Macedonia and Albania. These intense travels became my island and drive to photograph and share my impressions. I have always met great people and beautiful landscapes. Unbelievable how diverse life is!
When a door closes…
For about 2 years I worked at watt24 as a video producer, creating product videos for professional lighting solutions. In turn, the job gave me the opportunity to take a month to travel to Georgia. This country is totally impressive and beautiful! Since Georgia is not very big, you can get everywhere in no time with the local coaches, the marshrutkas. In the great Caucasus I could fulfill a dream and climb the 5033 meter high Kasbek and walk through the mountain area in Svaneti.
After the high in Berlin, the job at watt24 felt like a one-way street, which is why I was only partially sad when I was laid off. I saw this as an opportunity to finally take the path I’d been dreaming of for the past few years and become a photographer! This was well-timed, as I had just returned from a four-week trip to Pakistan, where I gained a lot of experience in photography. At the same time, the trip to Pakistan is a key moment for me and the biggest adventure of my life!
I was still missing a few important skills, so I took an education course in content marketing and social media management. At that time, the Corona virus was just coming up and really hit by the end of the advanced training. Life was like paralyzed and so was the job market in the creative industries. Since I desperately needed a plan, I decided to make the best use of this forced standstill and finally raise my profile. The best way is to study photojournalism. Especially after my trip to Pakistan, I wanted to dive deeper into other cultures. Here we are now. After all these years, my interests and skills are now coming together and for the first time I have fully arrived in my world! Now it’s time to bring up all my courage, love and empathy and combine my path as a photographer with my passion for life on our planet.