Anna Grewelding grew up in a small village on the Moselle and came to the big cities with photography. She was interested in art and photography at a very early age, but she never had the desire to become a photographer, so she first trained as a media designer. In her children’s room she set up her first small studio and looked after her first client. Today she is a sought-after fashion and beauty photographer and counts Vogue Italia, Beetique and die Geissen among her clients. In our exclusive interview we talk about her career as a freelance photographer, the process of a collaboration & at the end you will find out what was especially important for Anna on her way to turn her hobby into her profession.
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Early interest in photography, first Canon camera & key moment
FIV: First a few questions about yourself. Where are you from? Where did you grow up and since when did you know that you wanted to become a photographer?
Anna: I am Anna Grewelding, 27 years old, grew up in a small village and came to the big cities with photography.
I grew up in Maring-Noviand, a small village between the Mosel and the Eifel, near Trier. Very early I started to be interested in art and photography. But I rather came to photography by detours. As a small child I took a lot of pictures and my very first camera was from Canon. But then I did not suspect that it will be a very big part of my life. Knowing that I wanted to become a photographer was rather a slow process. There was no particular day when I woke up in the morning and wanted to become a photographer. It was rather a very expensive hobby. It gave me pleasure when I had a bad day. In those moments I was taking pictures. For me it was simply world off and camera on. Diving into a completely new world. At some point came the time when I started to look for photographers, to see what kind of photography they do, what their life looks like and I think that was also one of the key moments that I am a photographer today.
Self-employment as a photographer – change as a person
FIV: Becoming self-employed is always a huge step. How did your friends and family react to it? Do they support you at work?
Anna: Self and constantly. Every step into self-employment is not easy. It is not only a change in your working life, but a change that affects you as a person. You learn absolutely a lot about yourself during this time and you also need people who support you and help you. My parents were not so enthusiastic about it in the first moment, I think. My daughter makes herself independent, a lot of responsibility, so much work and what happens if that doesn’t work out. I think that many parents think that way at first, and that’s what made me think about everything and question everything. Looking back, I can understand the fears of my parents. In my family, there was also no one in a creative profession who was self-employed that you could have asked. So you have to take the first step yourself. I am absolutely grateful that my parents are my biggest critics but also my biggest fans. My parents and siblings have always supported me and still do. It all started when my first photo studio moved into my children’s room and I had my first customers. All this led to the fact that today I train photographers for workshops and work for well-known companies.
Anna in 3 words, sag & her tip for new energy
FIV: How would you describe yourself in 3 words? How would your friends describe you?
Anna: Ambitious, goal-oriented, creative.
FIV: Every job brings stress and almost everyone has a hangover. Do you have a trick for lethargy? How do you motivate yourself on such days?
Anna: For me it’s usually not individual days, but rather a slow process in which I notice that I’m quite tired and my creativity decreases. It’s important for me to turn off my emails, my mobile phone and social media, put my work aside and just go out, go to the beach or read a book. These are things I can do for myself when I realize that I’m having a sag. This is quite normal and comes back to me from time to time. My tip is to find something that you enjoy and that gives you new energy.
Of course, if you have work and can’t just drop everything to recharge your batteries, it helps to reward yourself. Sounds a bit weird at first, but it works very well. When I don’t feel like doing something, I think about things that I would like to do or would like to do. This is how I reward myself when I have done the work. These must be very small things. For me it is mostly chocolate.
GNTM Shootings & Competition in the beauty photography branch
FIV: On your page you see familiar faces, especially from Germany Next Topmodels. How was it to work with the models you know from the series all over Germany?
Anna: Of course I am very happy to work with the models from GNTM. But I also have to admit that I don’t see them as such when they come to my studio. For me, the people who come to the studio are more important. I am super curious to get to know the person, hear their story and work with them. Because every person who comes to my studio has experienced unique things and I am very curious about this experience.
For my siblings or friends it is rather unusual when they see or know that I took this picture. For example on pictures where people from TV are shown.
FIV: You are working in the beauty photography business. Would you say that there is a lot of competition in the industry and how do you stand out from your competitors?
Anna: There are already some photographers who are in the beauty photography business, but there is much more in wedding photography or other areas. There are a lot of jobs in the industry and also a lot of needs that need to be met. There are always some coming and some going again. Therefore I think that there is something for everyone. Competition in a creative field is rather relative for me. Each of us photographers has our own personality and our own style, how we take pictures and how we work with the pictures. This is something that clearly distinguishes us photographers from each other.
In beauty photography I have specialized in natural and authentic photography and editing. I do not like this artificial porcelain skin. For me it is important that the human being and his face is absolutely preserved, not changed too much and that the skin structure is clearly visible.
Anna Grewelding – This is how a professional shooting works
FIV: There are many things that are important in a shooting and have to work so as not to endanger the process. A very important factor is always the models. What are important qualities that a model should bring along to make the project run smoothly? What are absolute no-go’s on the set that could endanger the production?
Anna: For me personally, fun and a good atmosphere is always important on set, despite a lot of stress and little time. Of course, this is not always given, but I think that this is one of the points that makes working much easier. What I often notice is that a project is usually at risk if there is no clear communication. This can be, among other things, that it must be clearly regulated which goal all parties involved have or also who is responsible for what. Clear communication, and if everyone knows what they are working towards and what they are responsible for, a lot of problems are solved and a working day becomes easier. A No Go on set is for me when someone prevents me from doing my job. I absolutely prefer to work with models who are super flexible and have fun at work.
You see only one photo at the end – That’s what’s behind it
FIV: We as consumers ultimately see only the end product. What effort is involved and how much time is spent on planning a project? What is essential for you as a photographer in your daily working life?
Anna: Every project is different, so it is difficult to define an exact time frame. However, every project requires a lot of planning before the shoot and a lot of time with editing and reviewing after the shoot.
The shooting itself is therefore the middle part of a project. I usually start with the analysis of the idea. Either the customer has exact ideas or I can still get involved.
In both cases I analyse the idea or the topic and look at other or similar projects. It is important for me to find out what is special about the topic and what all is involved. Then of course the planning itself. The preparation with the team, finding the moods and props. To plan all those things that you don’t have in the studio so spontaneously. Then, of course, comes the day of the shooting. We record everything, often a very busy day with lots of people on the set. Why so many people on the set? Because I think it’s important that everyone has a task and doesn’t have to worry about several tasks at the same time. So I have many specialists on the set, who later together form a perfect team. In the end, the images are viewed, sorted out and edited. This is the last third of a project and what is most relaxed for me. In order to plan all this and always keep everything in view, a planning app is indispensable for me in my everyday work. It tells me what’s next. Good planning simply saves an enormous amount of time and is therefore an important and indispensable tool for me to coordinate everything.
The German fashion metropolis & international comparison
FIV: As a German photographer you have probably been to Berlin before. Why do you think Berlin is Germany’s fashion metropolis? And can you compare Berlin with the other fashion capitals London, Paris and New York?
Anna: I have already been to Berlin for a few shootings. But I think, just in my opinion, that in Berlin life and letting life play a big role. For me, Berlin is the German fashion metropolis. Especially in Germany there is a lot of criticism or whispering about being different or being on the street in your own style, maybe even a style that nobody knows. In Berlin I always have the feeling that it doesn’t matter what you wear. This makes it easier for creative people to go out and show what inspires them. It might as well be that I just see it that way, because I’m not in Berlin every day and I don’t live there. But Berlin for me is no comparison to London, Paris or New York. These are all cities where I have been and worked. I think it’s a great pity that Berlin or any other German city is not much more represented in the fashion world.
Become a photographer – That’s how Anna did it
FIV: When you look back on your career, is there a point from which you can say that it was your stepping stone to your current position? If so, what point was that?
Anna: The question is very nice in any case, but I don’t think there was a direct stepping stone. For me many things led from one to the other and carried me further and further. It’s really important to know a lot of people in the industry who are satisfied with your work and recommend you. That way you get further and further ahead and faster and faster. For me, I think it was really important that in the beginning I simply took all the experience I could get, never gave up and did a lot to get ahead.