Through the eyes of… Carolin Weinkopf
Another discovery from our travelettes flickr group is Carolin Weinkopf. Born and raised in a small town in West Germany she’s now been living in Berlin for six years. Originally she studied journalism and political sciences, but she currently works exclusively as a photographer. She runs a blog and a website.
How is traveling part of your life?
My parents were students when I grew up so we never really had much money when I was little. But we always took the car and drove down to Portugal or Croatia, or up to the Netherlands and went camping by the sea. When I was ten we did a roadtrip throughout the United States. That was probably the time I fell in love with traveling and visual media. I documented the whole trip on video tape and took a million pictures. The video camera broke, but I never stopped taking pictures. I was an exchange student in the States in 2001 and have been a quite busy traveler ever since. During my University studies I was always broke and didn’t travel much, but now as I work I try to catch up on what I missed. I haven’t really done the far traveling, but I got Europe and the US in my pocket, pretty much.
Which cameras and techniques do you use?
I use a quite simple Pentax K10D for most of my pictures. I have a collection of analogue SLRs and a Polaroid, but I barely ever use them. I really love having immediate results and the cost factor makes the decision easy to stick with that. I’m a quite good photoshopper and know exactly what to do to my pictures so they don’t look too digital. The Pentax also has a great advantage to most digital SLRs on the market: I can use old analogue lenses on it. Those make the greatest pictures and you can get them for a couple Euros on ebay.
What got you into photography?
I immediately loved it when I first picked up a camera. The idea of freezing moments and showing other people how I see the world was new and really exciting to me. Eventually I got good feedback for my photos and people encouraged me to keep on going. I had been taking pictures for many years and even published a few, but the decision to stick with it and make a living was quite spontanious and maybe naive. I was really lucky it worked out. I am so happy I can do what I love and nothing else. I never actually studied photography, but I am right now a master student with Arno Fischer once a month. The rest of the time I do photo jobs or just run around Berlin taking pictures.
What are your favorite places in the world to take photos at?
I went to Macedonia for a job last fall and fell in love instantly with the country and it’s people. I am trying to go back there in June and July this year to work on a wider documentary on the country. I was so amazed by the complete satisfaction and dignity people kept up, regardless of their life circumstances. Macedonia is an official candidate for the European Union and things are rapidly changing. I want to capture the life and beauty I found there before they disappear.
What is important for you regarding travel photography?
I think the most important thing is to be truly interested and not only pay attention to the surface. It’s important to know the word thank you in the language of the country and to know how to give a true smile. It’s also important to get out of your own comfort zone and take some risks. I’m not interested in the usual travel sights or spectacular locations. What I’m looking for are social landscapes and curiosites. It often takes some time and patience, a searching eye and a big portion of empathy to get that. I guess the most important thing in travel photography is to portrait people with dignity. The world is not a zoo to run around and take pictures of. When I take a photo I don’t want to ridicule or showcase people, I want to show their magic.
What is your favourite (travel)picture and what is so special about it?
One of my favourite pictures right now was taken in Zrze, Macedonia. It shows two monks in a cave beyond their monastery. I am not a religious person at all but these monks were quite mind-blowing. The two on the picture are about my age, super-well educated, speak perfect English, could have been the next big thing or whatever, but they decided to live on a rock in the far southwest of Macedonia, a two hour bumpy road ride from civilization. I have a pretty bad memory but I don’t think I could ever forget these wonderful guys. The picture is here to remind me.
What photography-realted advice would you give other girls who travel?
The most important thing is to keep your eyes and mind open. I think it is quite impossible to take good photos as a tourist in its common meaning. You need to jump in, talk to people, get a feel for situations and on what’s ok to photograph and what’s not. Don’t be shy. And don’t rush. Good pictures take time.
Also, I think it is not very important to go far or to go anywhere super exotic. There’s beauty to find anywhere, even in front of your door. One of my next trips will be a journey through my home country, Germany. It’s going to be a challenge, as it is much harder to take an interesting picture of something that’s part of your every day life than of something striking you have never seen before.
After this interview was made, Carlin went to New York for a while and took some amazing shots you should check out on her blog. Some of our favorites are here-below.
If you or someone you know is a great travel photographer, please consider joining the travelettes flickr group for a chance to be featured on this website.
She has an eye for beauty and even finds it in ugly apartment blogs. Her weekly photo chronicle “My week in pictures” has already become a classic among urban Berliners. Find out more at smaracuja.de.