Susanne Nervermann is a freelance photographer from Hamburg who focuses on editorial and commercial photography. Her focus is on people, beauty and fashion and she has a passion for portrait photography. The FIV did an interview with the versatile photographer, talking about her career, her work and projects and future plans.
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Way to fashion photography: Career, work & projects
FIV: Hello Susanne, with you one does not know what you are best presented as. You are an excellent photographer, but that is only one piece of the puzzle of your skills. You are a successful art director, often booked editorial and commercial photographer and also a picture editor. People, Beauty and Fashion are your professional fields and apart from your creative activities you enjoy travelling in Iceland. In any case, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
Of course we have done some research in advance to get a rough picture and to be able to ask you more demanding questions. Did you find your description suitable, would you like to correct or complete something?
Susanne: Hello and thank you very much for the opportunity to introduce my work and myself. The piece of the puzzle is already very well formulated. So far I have looked into many areas of photography and somehow got stuck in beauty and fashion. The description is of course very flattering, thank you very much for that!
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FIV: Were you already a little creative girl when you were a child in Magdeburg? How do you remember your childhood and can you remember your first photo you ever took?
Susanne: I came quite “late” to photography. It was only during my training as a design assistant that I developed an interest in photography. As a child I had a camera, but I only used it for short periods of time and rather documentarily captured a holiday. It was a neon pink compact camera with the inscription “Formel Eins”, that much I remember. My first photo should have been taken on a farm and shows either cats or cows. Not a great art. It has been living in my parents’ attic ever since.
FIV: How did your path go from being a child from Magdeburg to becoming a successful creative power woman living in Hamburg? Did you complete an apprenticeship or study and did you previously deal with other areas of photography or even another artistic subject?
Susanne: As a child I loved to paint. Not outstandingly good but I enjoyed it a lot. When I was asked about my future career aspirations, I always answered that I wanted to do something “with art”. I can still draw only moderately. But I never had the ambition to become better in this field. I could realize my ideas more easily through photography. This started, as already mentioned, in my training as a design assistant and the subsequent study of information technology and design in Lübeck. I completed my internship semester at an advertising agency in Hamburg and since then I have been living and working in Hamburg.
Susanne: The projects I was involved in are manifold. Sometimes I have the luck to work for designers, but sometimes it’s days of research for a mood film. Most of the time I still make my living through art direction. There is a lot of competition in photography. Up to now I thought my fun in photography would suffer if I would deal with it alone.
FIV: Tell us a little bit about your great love Iceland. On your website you can get a good impression of the breathtaking nature and as a photo motive the small island state is suitable in any case, that makes sense to us. But I would like to hear again from you personally what attracts you there again and again and what Iceland means to you.
Susanne: At the beginning of my independence my husband and I flew to Iceland. At that time he was already working as a freelancer for a few years. In our respective permanent positions, and before that in our studies, we never had the money and time for a longer trip. We figured it was now or never. Somehow I had Iceland in the back of my mind So I bought a map, planned a route and then went around the island with a rental car and a tent. We felt that we had to stop every 100 meters to take pictures. The landscape is incredibly beautiful and changeable. Above all I love the loneliness and seclusion in the east and north of the island. No people, no noise, no garbage. But a lot of fresh air and impressive nature. Great to just switch off.
FIV: How does your approach to creative projects like an editorial shoot for fashion brands differ from your approach to the professional presentation of a doctor’s office?
Susanne: The approach is not so different, there is always some kind of story told. First of all, I familiarize myself with my client. What does he want to express and convey. Editorials are usually a bit freer and more varied than the presentation of a medical practice.
FIV: In order to train such a list of skills and to put down roots in the creative industry in the long term, you need a strong will. But very few are born with it. How did you overcome the necessary setbacks to get to where you are now?
Susanne: That’s right. A lot of things only come about through contacts. Customers don’t go to “fotograf24.de” to find the right person for their project. You know who knows who. That’s how it works. And on the way there are many nights and weekends of tutorials and research. If you are also the more introverted type of person, the process takes a lot longer. I am still far from being where I would like to be. More single-mindedness in one direction wouldn’t have hurt but I’m working on that right now. What helps is the love for what you do and an understanding family.
FIV: Which concept developments, shootings or other events from your career do you remember best?
Susanne: I love working in teams and with clients who tick about the same as I do. Fun is also very important for me. You don’t have to prove anything to the others, we are all not perfect and that’s good. Unfortunately, there are far too many blasphemies and boasts in this industry. Fortunately, I had made almost only good experiences so far.
FIV: In order to develop new creative concepts and ideas on a daily basis, but of course also to reach as many people as possible, you must never lose sight of the spirit of the times. Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you manage to master the balancing act between artistic creativity and the wishes of your customers, tailored to their target groups?
Susanne: In the beginning you collect a lot of ideas and then, in consultation with the client, you break them down piece by piece until you reach an agreement. The ideas for this can come from the most diverse places and at the strangest moments. But it also helps to have an inspiration folder that you search and maintain from time to time. I not only collect beauty and fashion photos that I like, but also colors, shapes and lighting moods that I find beautiful. What I like so much about beauty photography is that every model is a new, exciting and unique “canvas” on which I can live out my creativity.
FIV: How do you imagine your future? Do you want to continue your current line or do you still have ideas that go in a completely different direction? First of all you concentrate as we know on your child and probably have a lot of daily action. Maybe as a mother you will also concentrate more on your family from now on.
In any case, we from the FIV editorial office wish you good luck for the rest of your life.
Susanne: Thank you very much. Yes, that’s right, with the birth my daily routine has completely changed. Getting out and going somewhere has to be well organised beforehand. From December I try to become active again and take on my first assignments. I am also thinking about specialising more. In any case, it is an exciting time and never too late to follow his passion.