Hanna Putz Interview28/06/2012
Hanna Putz, a young photographer based in London by way of Austria, is part of the VUU collective and was recently one of ten photographers chosen to take part in the Hyères 2012 International Festival for Fashion and Photography.
Her work has already been showcased in Dazed & Confused, HUSK and Tissue (the list goes on) since she first picked up a camera professionally a few short years ago.
Her shots capture both the personal elements of individuality, as well as our shared and innately human tendency to offer up a certain vision of ourselves to the lens.
Exploring the interaction between identity and recognition, the personal and the public, Hanna’s images tell stories about the way we chose to communicate ourselves.
POST NEW got to ask Hanna a few questions about her work.
Clementine Widdowson - de Pressigny: How you approach a shoot – do you already have an idea of what you want the shots to look like, or do they come about more spontaneously?
Hanna Putz: Most of the time I know what I want, and a lot of it - for me at least - comes down to the editing process.
CWDP: What initially made you pick up a camera?
HP: Simply, I wanted to make images and the camera was a tool for me to do that.
CWDP: There's a strong sense of intimacy in your images; you make the viewer privy to quiet, personal moments without the feeling of voyeurism. Is this important of your exploration of selfhood?
HP: It’s not in my interest to invade people’s private moments with my camera, to capture them and to present them to the world. At the same time I´m not interested in images of people simply posing for a photograph. I try and give people space in my images, where I´m not demanding anything of them, without trying to capture a "real" moment of someone that should just belong to them.
CWDP: You’ve spoken about your interest in exploring posing – can you talk about your ideas on the nature of posing and how you think it links to identity and self-recognition?
HP: I personally find the notion of posing for a camera interesting. It’s something quite personal, and at the same time it is the least personal things you can do. I´m always trying to figure out what the people in front of my camera are trying to say, through the way they put forth an image of how they want to come across for a photograph.
It is interesting to see how notions of posing for a photograph change when you add certain ingredients to a shooting situation. Like for example photographing someone with their child, or with someone whom knows them extremely well, like their mother. I like experimenting with that.
I´m fascinated by living in this time, in which there is an extremely high demand for self-presentation. Everything‘s recorded, photographed, reproduced. If you fart and it’s not on TV, in a gallery, radio or the Internet, your fart is basically meaningless.
CWDP: Your subjects really come through as the focus of your work, their relation to you and the camera, and to themselves and their environment. How does this affect your approach to doing fashion photography?
HP: I try to work on a commissioned series for a magazine in the same way as I would work on my personal projects. Obviously, that’s not always possible. But, as you say, I´m photographing a person first and foremost, and I´m interested in the image, everything else is secondary to me.
CWDP: Your treatment of the female nude is really refreshing. We are so bombarded with naked women, but yours feel different. While you delve into sexuality you never sexualise your subjects. Is this important to you, and is it something you work consciously with?
HP: When I photograph someone naked it’s not about creating a sensual or erotic image. The people in my images are nude not naked. The nude to me implies awareness of being seen. The people are not naked as they are; they are naked as the viewer sees them.
For me it is not about showing someone naked in his or her most "real" or intimate state, to be presented to, or even judged by the viewer. Even when naked, or especially then, the people in my images are not involved with, or available to, the viewer in any way. Most of the time, nudity in painting or in photography to me, has nothing to do with being real or free.
When depicting nakedness there‘s a sense of closeness to oneself, and this is something that comes across through the glance, the look or the feeling of the person in the image. That’s where people are recognized for who they are or what they feel - not in the fact of being naked, shown without clothes.
CWDP: What are you working on at the moment?
HP: I´m working on more images for the mothers and daughters series, for an upcoming exhibition at the Photographers Gallery in London, curated by Susan Bright.
Clementine Widdowson - de Pressigny