Interview with Julia Baier
Finally, I became a photographer. This wasn’t my original plan since I meant to become a psychologist at first. However, I listened to my inner voice which told me I wanted something else. Initially this voice was faint, but it gathered strength until I finally mustered the courage to choose the lesser known path and apply at an art academy. In hindsight I’m happy I made that decision, as I love living the creative, exciting and self-determined life of a freelance photographer. Photography is intrinsically linked to your own personality, so it’s bound to inherently enrich your life.
Could I have become a good psychologist? Who knows. I’m not a fan of the idea that every person has but one single fate. It’s much more interesting to imagine what other paths I potentially could have taken.
There is more than just one decisive “When” in my life as a photographer. One moment would be the purchase of my very first own camera, a Minolta X300, and the first time developing film in the dark room, back in 1991. Then there was the decision to apply at the University of the Arts Bremen and hence abandon my psychology studies. Another key moment was holding the letter of acceptance in my hands. Next the time around 1996 when I was dreaming of becoming a Magnum photographer and I decided to focus on street photography, which meant I would have to overcome my anxieties and reservations towards strangers. First jobs for newspapers and magazines followed, proving to me that it’s possible to make a living off photography. Not to forget the boost the success of my final diploma project gave me.
I have been living in Berlin for twelve years now, and I am still looking for further decisive moments in my life and my pictures.
As concerns my art, I feel most at home where quotidian life is happening and people go about their daily business. This can be literally anywhere. To find the exceptional in the ordinary and capture it in an unusual two-dimensional square frame – that is what really motivates me.
Water drops, a backyard, swimming suits, a demonstration, faces, lines, a glass on the table, a child on somebody’s lap – you can take pictures of everything and nothing. Therefore it’s crucial to let yourself be guided by what you care about. This approach limits your scope in a productive way and gives you the opportunity to observe your chosen microcosm in greater detail. A recurring topic in my work is bathing cultures and water in general. These topics have fascinated me for two decades now, and their attraction doesn’t seem to fade. You can capture a diving tower from the front, from above or from below, deserted, or with people on it, during the morning or in the blazing sun of noon, in color or in black and white. These are decisions you will have to make, which will end up making your picture uniquely yours. For me, photography is such an attractive medium because it immediately touches upon what we call reality. What is reality, is there the one reality, is there a reality in the picture, is reality concrete or abstract? Where does a sense of recognition end and where does abstraction begin? Those are the questions I’m dealing with.
Apart from the fact that my passion for photography is – like any passion – driven by an impulse that is part of my vital energy and in this case the pleasure of seeing, photography is also a bridge that helps me to relate to the “outside world.” It constantly challenges me to open up, get in touch with others, ask questions, discuss things and look more closely. Photography keeps me attentive, vivid and focused, and it helps me understand my environment as well as myself. Photography structures my way of looking at the world as well as my understanding of it. It is a vehicle to share my perspective on things, my thoughts and feelings, and in the best case, my pictures touch other people and provide a visual stumbling block in the flood of images we are exposed to every day.