Anke Loots takes photographs that are quietly arresting. With light playing as important a role as the subject matter she chooses to frame, her images – even those captured in studio – are personal and emotive. Here, Anke fills us in on her background and shares some thoughts on creative independence, the nature of her subject matter and seeing in a rectangular frame.
What is your earliest photography-related memory?
When I was a kid my uncle had a Polaroid camera, a Sun 600, if I remember correctly. We would take the coolest family photos and draw pictures and write words on the print before it had fully developed. I still have some of those pictures and I treasure them like gold.
Tell us a bit about your journey so far, and how you’ve come to be where you are today…
I grew up in Pretoria, and moved to Cape Town the day after I wrote my last matric exam. I graduated in graphic design and art direction at an amazing institution, Red & Yellow. Halfway through my final year I managed to wangle my way in with one of my hero photographers, Pieter Hugo, whom I worked with for about 3 years. For the past year I have been working and learning as assistant editor in the film industry while working on my own photography. I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunities that have come on my path.
How would you describe your style or aesthetic?
Neat, clean, timeless and focused.
How has this developed since you first started out, and what do you attribute these shifts to?
I grew up in a family where everything, aesthetics wise, is very minimal and clean. So this has been ingrained in me from a very young age and translates in everything I do. I think, for everyone, the real change comes when you become more secure and comfortable in yourself and this automatically matures and changes your style.
Do you feel that you have a visual signature, or something that runs as an undercurrent in all of your images?
As cliché as it is; less is more.
What are you currently influenced and inspired by?
Panda Bear meets the Grim Reaper, my boyfriend and Robbie Spencer.
What camera(s) do you use and why?
A Fuji x100s. Pieter Hugo used to tell me I should always have my camera on me, because of the spontaneity of my subject matter. In the past I only shot on film and lugging around a film camera can be a real mission. I went overseas last year and I bought the Fuji (mostly for its weight) and I’ve never looked back.
Is there a particular image you’ve taken that stands out as a personal favourite? Or one that has a memorable story attached to it?
Two friends and I went to a beach close to Cape Town, so I could take their pictures. They were running around on the dunes without their clothes on. After a while of photographing I saw how comfortable they became in their naked skin, on the sand and in the sun. In one instance they ran up a steep dune and I was quite far away so I had good perspective. There was a moment where their shadows morphed and created this strong goddess-like creature that ran up that dune with them. It was magical. Also, a portrait I took of a dear friend of mine in Paris last year. I found my love for photography when we started becoming good friends and she was almost a muse for me at that time. We hadn’t seen each other in years, and spent a few days together. It was a really special moment for me.
Do you believe that photographs should move the viewer as well as inform them, or do you think these qualities can exist independently?
I have come to a place in my life where I’m not very fussed with what other people think of what I do creatively. I try to make things that move and inform me and maybe in the process someone else connects with the way I see things.
In terms of your approach to making pictures, what balance do you endeavour to strike between order and spontaneity?
It’s a very natural process for me. I’ll see beautiful sunlight on a pretty face or an object and capture it. Other times I’ll have the good lighting and a pretty face in mind and I bring the two together. In some moments the sunny spot can exist without the pretty face and vice versa.
Has the act of taking photographs changed the way you look at or think about things?
My mind literally sees in rectangle frame. I don’t know if this is because of photography or just in my nature, but it kind of drives me insane sometimes.
Are you working on or working towards any long-term projects that you can tell us about?
A good friend and I are in the process of starting a little visual collective together, which I’m very excited about.
What can we look forward to from you in the not-too-distant future?
A feature in a UK magazine called Confingo and a portrait series I’m working on that is still nameless.