Damaris Riedinger Photography
An interview with German-born, Vancouver-based photographer, Damaris Riedinger.
A lot of your images pop with bright shades and magnificent hues. What about photographing settings and scenes that contain memorable color palettes draws you in?
Wherever I am, color is like a magnet to my eyes. It makes me feel inspired and alive. When I see an intriguing scene of colors, I continuously ask myself a lot of questions like "Why did I stop here? What is it about this place?" I often think about how these particular places could work as settings for a portrait. Besides the colors, it's mostly shapes and patterns that draw me in and how all those elements work together with whatever lighting is present.
As someone who takes a lot of portraits, what do you find the most difficult about capturing the essence of someone? And what's the most rewarding?
It's an amazing challenge to quickly sense and capture a person's sense of being, or rather my interpretation of that person's identity. Especially if you have to shoot quickly or you just met that person. At the same time, this challenge is also the rewarding part: the practice of exploring and the not knowing that comes with creating a portrait.
Do you find yourself taking a lot of photos when you're in a new place you've never been to before? What are some of the coolest places you've traveled to recently that you had a great time shooting at?
I enjoy taking pictures wherever I am. There is always something new to be discovered, no matter where you are. It's just a question of perspective and what exactly it is that you are looking for. So in essence, I feel that every place I shoot can be interesting in its own unique way. I love places that are warm and have amazing light. I wouldn't necessarily choose to live in locations that are abundant with this though, because I like the contrast of the seasons. Nevertheless, I understand why painters love the South of France so much. And I really like California. Lake Constance, where I grew up, is also a place that fuels me creatively. It's a lake that borders Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It's the water, the Alps, and the mix of countries. I love going back there.
Are there certain spaces that have captured your attention that you keep coming back to again and again? And if so, what about these spaces do you love? Can you give us a few examples of where these areas/locations might be?
Right now I keep coming back to urban environments. There is just so much happening here. Europe has a lot of historical buildings that nobody would paint over in bright colors. Since the architecture is younger in North America, I guess people are bolder with color. They paint walls yellow and fences pink. That's why I really enjoy living in Vancouver at the moment. It's a little bit "easier" to find colorful settings. My co-working space Werklab for instance is in this interesting area. It is very industrial, and everything feels spread out, with the buildings showcasing large surfaces which give them a lot of room to express themselves. And to make it even better, a few blocks away there are beautiful, colorful heritage houses. These seemingly conflicting aesthetics influence me every day as I make my way to work.
Do you think its important to stick to a certain kind of aesthetic as a photographer? Especially in today's world where social media channels like Instagram are important? How do you find yourself using platforms like Instagram to influence your work? Do you edit and curate your posts in any particular way in order to best showcase your photography style to the public?
I think it's important to find out what you enjoy capturing the most. I believe this is where most people's artistic identity resides. An aesthetic coherence between your images will then naturally develop. I see it as a constant and organic process of learning and discovering. Instagram is a great platform for artists. I edit my images with Lightroom or Camera Raw and then use Feedmaster to organize my feed to see which images work well together. It's a lot of fun playing around with these apps. If you are following a diverse pool of people, magazines, artists, and collectives, Instagram will help to shape your artistic eye and open up multiple perspectives. But as every social media platform, there's also the risk of attaching your success to finite numbers. Getting more followers doesn't automatically mean that your art is getting better as well. That is something I keep reminding myself. It is very important to keep up with your online presence and online portfolio as an artist, but it is equally important to grow your creative, artistic practice in real life.
And finally, what are your favorite parts of being a photographer? What about the profession is something that you feel you could not live without? What advice would you give to someone who is trying to sharpen their skills and present a cohesive and impressive portfolio whether via a website or on social media?
I love what I'm doing and feel very lucky to be able to grow in my path as a photographer. It hasn't been that long since I committed to it full-time, but it's amazing how the profession can introduce you to many new people and interesting situations. The camera is an amazing tool for discovery. Life as a freelancer is rarely predictable. I don't always know which projects or things will come my way. Once I figured that out and kind of learned how to live with it, it all became this interesting journey with many ups and downs. I enjoy all parts in photography. I love scheduling and planning, I love to imagine shoots and sketch them out in my notebook, I love to take photos, meet and connect with people, and I really enjoy to edit my pictures and find the "right" colors and nuances in every image. My advice would be to first do everything that makes you grow in your craft. Visit workshops, conferences, take online classes, do internships, and learn from other photographers and artists about how they figured things out. Secondly, find a creative community that sharpens your skills and gives you honest feedback. This will make a big difference. And thirdly, show only only what you are most proud of on your website and show work that you want to be hired for. On the other hand, some advice I give myself daily is: Don't be too afraid to post your work, don't wait until it's perfect. Accept critiques and feedback, but still make sure you're getting your photography out there at some point. Embrace your work and your skills in the present.