Frauke Thielking was born in Minden, a small town near Hannover and she was fortunate to spend her childhood in a small village with open skies, green space, lots of other children, lots of animals … and lots of fun. At the age of 10, Frauke, her parents and sister moved to a pretty small town called Lübbecke, which is not far from Minden either. After her A-levels in 1996, Frauke went to London to work as an Au Pair in a very nice family and she really enjoyed her time there. After coming back from London, she first decided to study English & Pedagogy to become a teacher. Accidentally, Frauke “bombed” into a weekend’s seminar at the University in Bielefeld. It was a kind of “Introduction to Photography” – thing and she thought “Well, what about studying photography?” and applied with a portfolio in Bielefeld at the photography department. While travelling in Thailand (in Summer 2000) with a good friend of hers, Frauke got a letter that she’d be a student for Communication Design at the University of Applied Sciences Dortmund from September 2000.
Frauke Thielking finished her studies in Summer 2006 and since then, she has been working as a freelance photographer, designer and independent artist.
All in all, She has spent a happy life so far and she is really enjoying it at the moment. Frauke told us, that of course she also had crisis in he life, but who has not? Crises are actually good – especially when you are through! 🙂 It was a pleasure for us to take an interview with Frauke Thielking and share this interesting and captivating story with you. Enjoy reading and share it with your friends!
AP: Frauke, please tell us about your first pictures. What did they look like?
FT: I always have been pretty creative and the first little award I got was in „Kindergarten“! It was a picture that was meant to be coloured and I think I got the award, because I coloured it very accurately and thoroughly which is not that common for little children as they get bored with being precise quite easily.
I love to envisage and to invent stories and as I’m not that good at drawing, photography is a good medium to express my ideas and to create worlds that reflect my point of view. My first staged photography series was about a touching love story between a carrot and a pear. They met in a fruit basket in a kitchen and spent some good time together – unfortunately without happy ending (as a knife and grater came to make some salad ;-)).
AP: Do you have any formal education in photography or were you self-taught?
FT: As mentioned above, I have been studying Communication Design with an emphasis on Photography. During my studies, I also made myself familiar with audiovisual techniques and I realized projects with Audio-Slideshows, Sound Installation and Video. Since I left University, I teach myself – I do a lot of research and I try to learn programmes or special techniques by myself.
I also love to be around in social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Not only is it stimulating to get to know other perspectives, but also it is also very enriching as people with different cultural backgrounds share knowledge and experiences. I learn a lot from other people and I am grateful when people are honest.
AP: What genre is your photography?
FT: I have a preference for humorous, provocative, scurrile and playful Staged Photography as well as documentary pictures. Some of my works are rather „clinical“ and reduced to the very basic, some are pretty experimental, spontaneous and personal.
I have always had a strong interest in sociological, psychological and philosophical topics and I have developed my knowledge in theoretical seminars dealing with social and cultural context of various 20th & 21rst century movements. Recently I debate on Systems Theory, Existential Philosophy, Positive Psychology and Humour Research and I am very interested in educational issues.
Since Summer 2009 I have discovered the enormous potential and possibilities of Social Media, and I’m working very active and with passion on Facebook and Twitter. Not only I am using these networks for exchange and research, but I am also working pretty active on mostly self-initiated projects. I really appreciate the immediacy and reachability of Social Media tools and they provide a fantastic way to make something happen and to communicate in so many different directions. I can give my fancy full scope on these networks and sometimes I am laughing tears on my very own.
AP: How would you describe your photos?
FT: I do a lot of observations in my surroundings and I pay attention to systems and structures, which include a varity of layers. I like playful stagings a lot and pictures that evoke a certain sense of humour and curiosity. Many of my works deal with norms in society and the deviations of such norms. My intention is to expand people’s way of thinking and to appeal to more tolerance towards people who seem to be strange.
When people see my works, they often comment them with attributes like „crazy“, „odd“, „surreal“, „absurd“, „disturbing“, „tragicomical“, “playful”, sometimes even “silly”. I (try to) create scenes, situations or moments people can identify with. When my images activate an inner dialogue between the image itself and the viewer, it is a success. Good images communicate, touch you and make you reflect. And good images can be looked over and over again.
AP: What kind of equipment and techniques do you use to create your works?
FT: I shoot with Hasselblad (analogue), Canon 5D and for spontaneous photos and videos, I like the iPhone-Camera and Photo Booth. I realize more and more that – for me – the equipment is secondary. A good eye is much more valuable than an expensive camera. I have to laugh when people talk too much about technique or when people say: “WOW, cool picture – which camera do you have” or “Which lens do you use”? For me the content, the concept and idea behind the picture has always been much more important than technique.
AP: Would you consider yourself as an expert in this sphere?
FT: As I have been studying Photography, I’ve learned a lot about special techniques, Design Rules, Art History and so on and of course, I can see if a picture has been made by a professional or an amateur. But I am not really fond of the word „expert“, because it has this „I-Know-It-All“-touch. People change permanently and every day, you learn something new. I can rather identify with Socrates „I know that I know nothing“.
AP: What is the formula for success in your activity?
FT: I think it is very important to be open, passionate, curious, disciplined and to have a sense of humour. And it’s very important to trust your instinct and inner voice, because the best ideas come from within. I would feel sort of bad when I would do something I couldn’t identify with. When you love what you do & do what you love, everything will come on its own.
I participate in many competitions and fortunately I have been pretty successful so far. Awards are a good motivation and it make me think: „Ok, go on with your crazy works – other people also like it and/or want to see it“. In Summer 2009, I participated in a contest called „International Talent Support“ in Trieste, Italy. It has been a fantastic experience for me, because I’ve met so many creative people from all over the world on one spot. There was a lot of positive energy and it was like a meeting with good friends though you have never met these people before. I also do a lot of exhibitions and my works have been shown in Germany, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Finland, Morocco, China and the United States.
AP: Is there someone who supports you in your creativity?
FT: I think the best motivator is myself. It comes from within and I have a need to express my ideas and to create something. My family supports me and I’m very thankful that my parents made a lot possible for me. Sometimes they ask me: „Frauke, why haven’t you finished your teacher studies – it would be a a safe job with good money now“ – I can understand their worries a bit, because it’s not a secret that it is hard and a permanent fight to make money with photography, especially when your passion is on art, but I just don’t want to do anything else.
And I appreciate motivational words from good friends as well as from strangers. Social networking is also good and the „I like –button“ on facebook is a wonderful invention. Just with a single click people can show appreciation. It’s a little something, but it makes you feel good and noticed. I can’t understand why people don’t show acceptance or are envious on other people – if they just did what they are really into and not compare so much with others, they would be probably happier and treat other people in a more kind and human way.
AP: Would like to wish something to your readers and AstrumPeople?
FT: First of all: Thanks for asking me for this interview. And thanks for reading it. I wish everyone to find something that you are really passionate about, something that makes you happy and grateful every day.
And I would like to quote Steve Jobs, because he said something I couldn’t say better:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
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