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Featured: Moody Photography by Katinka Bester

Katinka Bester


Katinka Bester takes mood-drenched photographs of friends and places that she visits. Her eye is trained on seeking out that special something that is barely perceptible on the surface, a secret that she makes apparent in her images. Katinka often shoots on film, which adds to the emotiveness of her images. Her fashion images, although shot digitally, retain the intensity of her personal work. Katinka lets us into her visual world, and tells us a little about what’s going on there.



Did you always know that you wanted to take photographs, or was this something you discovered over time?


I have had many aspirations. One of them has always been painting. I have not painted since I left school. Ballet was another major part of my life and I feel like that is where I find optimal beauty today. Photographs started with documenting moments that were important to me or with people that were relevant in my life.



Is there any single image that has profoundly impacted your work, and if so, how and why?


There are so many pictures today and they influence my life on a daily basis, and then I forget about them, and move on. I find inspiration in moments that I see in pictures. I feel that pictures should physically move, and not stand still. That’s what drives me. A picture that still lives on beyond the image.



How has your style and approach changed and developed over time?


The people that are most close to me are the people who always answer this question – they see how my style develops and changes over time. I always feel blind to it, perhaps because I am bad with referencing, and so I follow what spontaneously comes to me at the time.


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Please tell us about your current aesthetic – muted colours, moodiness, androgynous characters, etc.


When I am taking an image, I look for a beauty within a person or a place that cannot be seen whilst conversing with them. It’s almost like a secret place that I try bring out. The people that I choose are special to me. I can immediately see when someone looks at me with muted eyes, and that means nothing to me. I don’t know what I will do when I have to eventually enter the commercial world.



Does your experience taking documentary-style photos influence your portraits? Please tell us about this.


I think it goes hand in hand. I try to show a part of a person that is sacred, even to them. It’s really showing a vulnerability of an individual person. What I explain above will not show in all my pictures, but it is what I aspire to do each time.



When taking a portrait of someone, what do you hope to capture?


I always try to get to know what their deal is. I want them to trust me when I take their portrait. It’s very apparent when they give me nothing, and if they don’t, the picture is unusable to me.


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What’s your creative approach – do you plan everything in advance or embrace the element of chance and spontaneous experimentation?


My mentor, Ulrich Knoblauch has always given me the guidance to approach a project with some form of direction. I will have that and then given my surroundings and my subject, go with it and let it fit naturally.



What themes or ideas are you currently inspired by, and how are you exploring these in your work?


As I said, I don’t reference much, and I like to let the situation take that element over. Timeless patience.



Do you still shoot on film? What do you love about shooting on film and digital respectively?


My first preference is always film. But this isn’t practical in the fashion industry, so digital is what I will shoot on mostly. My landscapes will always be on film.


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What are you reading, watching, listening to right now?


Let’s start with music. Nina Simone and Otis Rush. They are the right balance between making life beautiful and sad. I’m not reading anything at the moment, but my last book was called Astragel by Albertine Sarraazin, a book Patti Smith described as luminous.



What can we look forward to seeing from you soon?


I am working on a major art project that will hopefully be seen on big white walls in a beautiful space, between 1 and 3 years from now.




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