Andrea Peipe is a fine art photographer. She is 35 years old, and she lives in Munich, Germany with her partner and her two stepsons. She works there as a freelance fine art photographer because this is her passion and something that she really wants to do in her life. Andrea cannot remember not taking photos, even at her early age, but she started to get into photography and editing at the beginning of 2010. She studied to be a translator for English and Spanish and worked in that field for a few years but quit her job to pursue photography. It was a pleasure for us to take an interview with Andrea Peipe who shared some interesting facts of her biography. We wish you a pleasant reading of Andrea Peipe success story and viewing of her fantastic fine art photography.
The First Steps in Photography
AP: Hi Andrea, thank you so much for finding the time to share your success story. That is a great honor for us to take an interview with you. Could please tell us what got you started?
Andrea: After I had finished school, I was torn between becoming a photographer or studying something that was going to earn me money. A job agency advised me to study something “proper” because you have to be really good to make it as a photographer. So I studied to become a translator for English and Spanish and got my degree in 2003. However, I never gave up on photography and kept being very interested in it. I worked as a translator for a few years and then quit my job in 2010. Because I was tired of doing the same thing every day, not doing anything creative and just generally felt that this was not how I wanted to live my life. I had been taking more and more photos from the beginning of 2010 on and went freelance in 2011. I have long been inspired by the wave of fantastic photos by a young generation of very talented photographers and I greatly admire a lot of them. Some of which are good friends of mine and some I am still waiting to meet some day.
AP: What a beautiful start. This is so great that you returned to taking photos in 2010. Could you please tell us about your education degree?
Andrea: I got my first camera at a very young age and always took photos. However, they were not anything special, just things that I wanted to take a picture of. I have had several cameras in my life and always wanted to get better but didn’t invest so much time into it until 2010 when I bought my first DSLR and then started my 365 project. I saw great photos of other photographers, who were younger than me, who were creating, and I wanted to figure out how I could achieve something equally good! Therefore, I experimented a lot with my camera, bought a book about my specific camera and tested all the functions, and gradually got to know Photoshop by watching lots of tutorials online, and again experimenting. Of course, I also spoke to other photographers at meetups and watched them working and so I gradually became better and more secure in my photography. I never studied to be a photographer and I believe if you really want to learn something, you can figure it out by experimenting and spending a lot of time doing it.
AP: Thank you so much for such detailed life experience. I am sure it may inspire a lot of young photographers. What genre are your photos?
Andrea: When I started taking photos at a young age, I only took snapshots of my family and things that I liked looking at. Later I concentrated on landscapes and flowers and gradually moved on to self-portraits. Shortly after beginning to take self-portraits, I started a 365 project – taking a self-portrait for 365 days. And I didn’t want to take just snapshots or meaningless photos, I wanted them to be special so that I could be proud of them after the year. I went through with it and didn’t miss a day, not when I was sick, on vacation or busy which was sometimes really difficult. After taking photos of myself for a year, I got really tired of my face and only seeing myself in my pictures. So I moved on to taking pictures of friends and models I found on model websites etc. What changed a lot in my photography was that I organized my first Flickr meetup, and got to talk to and take photos of other young photographers who also had started with self-portraits and hence knew how to pose and what my vision was. Now I still love to take pictures of other photographers but more often use models or people that I meet and ask if they would like to model for me. Portraits are my favorite genre but not really the “normal” kind of portraits – although I sometimes enjoy that as well. I love creating a story with my images!
AP: How would you describe your works?
Andrea: I love creating magical photos, which leave the viewer stunned for a few seconds and make them lose themselves in the photo. I think my photos are quite unique in their own way but I know a few other photographers who create art which falls into the same category – fine art and storytelling. I like creating stories with my images and not just take a photo of a pretty girl standing between flowers – although I sometimes enjoy that too for a quick shoot. I like to sketch before a shoot and know exactly what mood I want to go for with the photos so that I can explain to my model what I am going for in the photo, what the background story is and what I want her to do.
Equipment and Techniques
AP: You are a talented photographer and we are very inspired by your work. What kind of equipment and techniques do you use to take such pictures?
Andrea: I am shooting with a Nikon D810. I have only had it for half a year and used a D7000 before, but the difference between a crop sensor and full frame still blows my mind. The lens I use the most is my 50mm F/1.4 although I use the Brenizer method to expand my frame every now and then. When I still shot with my D7000, I used to basically always expand my frame because I wanted the nice depth of field that you otherwise only get with a more expensive camera or lens. After a photoshoot, I use Adobe Lightroom 5 to choose the best photos and sometimes to make basic light changes and then the “real” editing happens in Photoshop CC. It can take anything from 20 mins to a couple of weeks depending on how complicated and elaborate my concept is.
“My Secret Garden”
AP: Andrea, please tell us more about your latest project “My Secret Garden”. What inspired you to start working on it?
Andrea: My mother had passed away a few months earlier and I had felt uncreative and broken ever since. I couldn’t really find my way back into photography, yet I have always used photography as an almost therapeutic way to deal with things. I often turn emotions into photos or concepts for future photos, but I was too broken to do that. So I thought of ways how to get back into photography and I knew I needed a long-term project that would keep me going even in rough times.
I generally find books and stories like Alice in Wonderland inspiring, anything that is not the usual, that contains things that the world doesn’t really have. Giant flowers, huge mushrooms, talking bunnies, the general size difference between Alice and the things around her… I love the ideas and find that very visually inspiring. I cannot say that my photos are inspired by a particular part of the Alice books or by any particular books at all, but they are inspired by the mood of many fairytale-like books and stories. I came up with a few ideas and sketches and just worked from there.
So far there are a few sub-series already. There is a series called “The Dreamers” which consists of photos of people walking around or standing holding a balloon filled with water and a fish or sea creature. For me, the balloons represent their dreams, which they are carrying around with them. Then there is a series called “Little Red” which is generally inspired by Little Red Riding Hood and contains – as you can guess – a lot of the color red. Dark Beauty Magazine recently published it.
Furthermore, there is a series called “Through the Eyes of Alice”, of which only a few photos have been published so far in Plenuline Magazine. And then there are a few individual images like “The Autumn King” which got quite a lot of attention. I am working on more photos at the moment for that series and what is crucial to me about that is that the props are as real as they can. Meaning that the clothes in the photos are either made by me or borrowed from young designers, that the giant flowers are actually really giant, that the balloon is really filled with water, etc. If there is something that I can create and then take with me during the shoot, then I will try to do that.
The Formula for Success
AP: What is the formula for success in your activity?
Andrea: I think you generally need the patience to succeed in anything in life. I don’t often participate in contests, however, recently I did for the first time in a while. I took part in the Trierenberg Super Circuit, one of the world’s largest photo art competitions and even won a Gold Medal of Excellence for my photo “The Fluorescent Light of Day”! I was beyond excited when I got that email!
I exhibit quite a lot, although still not as much as I want to. About a week ago, a very important art fair – the STROKE art fair in Munich – ended after 5 days and it was wonderful exhibiting there. Over 20,000 visitors came and I had so many conversations, new contacts, and people buying my art. The general amount of exposure at exhibitions, in particular, art fairs, is insane! Recently, I had another art fair, the ARTMUC, and I was excited to see new people looking at my art, having conversations and new contacts! You have to get yourself out there, you have to show your art and live with the feedback – the good and the bad – and stand by your art. I believe that you will not be able to grow if you don’t do that.
AP: Who is one person you would like to see interviewed on AstrumPeople?
Andrea: Adi Dekel. She is a young photographer from Israel who is very inspiring and also a very sweet person. I love her photos so much and the way she uses the space she has.
AP: Thank you, Andrea. We will definitely contact her. Is there someone who supports you in your creativity?
Andrea: There are a lot of people who support me in my creativity. My rock is my wonderful partner who gives me his honest (and sometimes of course unwanted) opinion and pushes me forward. My family is generally very supportive and interested in my work, my dad and my sister always try to come to my exhibitions and are, I think, quite proud of me. And the family of my partner are also super supportive! Also, I have a few really good friends, some of which are fellow photographers, who I can always turn to for advice on photography or life in general, who give me hugs or come to my exhibitions. Without my supporters, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Three Golden Tips in Photography
AP: Tell us three lessons you believe are really important for every photographer?
Andrea: Experiment, network and never give up!
You may be bored with what you are creating or too comfortable with always shooting similar things but to grow, you need to experiment. And if things don’t work out, that’s ok. Figure out what didn’t work out and how to change that and try again. Sometimes it just wasn’t the right time for you yet and you need more experience in a certain field for an idea. Sometimes ideas need to be put aside until a later point in time. Experimenting will also help you find your own style! And having your own style does not necessarily mean that you will always shoot the same things but that there is a certain something that connects the photos.
Networking is so important in my opinion! Before I started befriending and meeting other photographers in 2012, I had been feeling stuck for a while mostly doing self-portraits. Meeting other photographers and seeing their work and simply just talking about creating art and things like that created a spark in me and pushed me forward immensely! Whenever I meet up with other photographers, in particular if that is for more than a day, I often create some of my best and favorite works. As a photographer, I find myself often working alone (except for during a shoot maybe) and coming together with other like-minded people is simply the best!
Last but not least: never give up! If you really want to do this, you have to keep going. It will take time – more for some, less for others – but things will get better and easier with time. Concepts which were not possible for you to put into practice will get possible, you will gain editing skills that you didn’t have before and just generally things will start to work out. But you have to keep going, do as much editing as you can in order to get better, and have as many photoshoots as possible so you get self-confidence in what you are doing and can achieve your ideas and concepts.
Andrea, it has been a great pleasure for us to take an interview with you. Thank you very much for sharing such inspiring success story with us. We wish you continued inspiration, incredible accomplishments, and many more great ideas to come up with. To learn more about Andrea Peipe photography feel free to visit her personal website with beautiful fine art photographs.