Finding common ground in photography
22 September 2017
With smartphones putting a camera in everyone’s pocket, photography is a competitive field. Yet some photographers manage to stand out. How? We asked German photographer Andrea Grützner (1984), winner of this year’s ING Unseen Talent Award Jury Prize, and ‘Parisian’ Robin Lopvet (1990), who won the competition’s Public Prize by popular vote.
Q: Nowadays everyone is a photographer. What makes you different?
Andrea: In my work, I am searching for visual ways to articulate my feelings towards specific places, often architecture. I look at other work – both in theory and in practice – to learn, be inspired and shape my thoughts and ideas. And then it’s great to add my own point of view.
Robin: I don’t want to create things that already exist. Therefore I always push myself to create something that is personal, because then it’s new.
Q: Photography is a tough field. What drives to pursue it as a profession?
Robin: We are more into collaboration rather than thinking in terms of competition. Personally, I just don’t expect too much. If something happens, like being part of the ING Unseen Talent Award, I’m just happy.
Andrea: I don’t really feel it is too competitive. My friends, who are also photographers and artists, are very open. We support each other, share experiences and discuss our work.
Q: What do you love about being a photographer?
Robin: Sometimes you accidentally come across a photo you shot months ago. Now you look at it with different eyes and something in the photo triggers you. Photography is full of surprises, which is one of the many things I like about it.
Andrea: Photography is like my magic wand. I can transform reality into something else, into new spaces where people meet. That is a focal point in my work.
Q: What will you remember about the ING Unseen Talent Award?
Andrea: The respect we all had for each other and each other’s work. Not only the five finalists, but also the jury and Nadav Kander, who is an established photographer. For the award we had to create a photographic work based on the theme Common Ground. Nadav coached us in this process and I felt I was in a safe environment in which I could share my ideas and doubts.
Robin: The scouts for this award really look for new photographers. I didn’t know the scout, so when I received the email congratulating me on being selected, I thought it was a hoax! Only after the third or fourth email, I replied.
Q: Now that you’ve been ‘seen’, what is your next step?
Andrea: I want to start a new project and continue with the work I created for the ING Unseen Talent Award, as I really liked the Common Ground theme. I also want to make a book of the series I did. In March, I will move to New York for a while, which is very exciting.
Robin: The first step will be spinning [discs] this Saturday in Amsterdam’s club OT301. I’m also a DJ and producer and as I was in Amsterdam for Unseen, I thought to combine it with my love for music. Photography wise, I will be part of a group exhibiting at the art school in Nice (France) and there are some other exhibitions planned, like at a gallery in Paris.