German photographer Mandy Karlowski received her first camera as a gift from the family that was hosting her during an exchange student program in the U.S. She took photos of everything from family and friends to all the places she traveled to and even the family dogs! Very quickly she realised that she found her passion in photography.
Mandy, where are you from and where do you currently live?
I currently live in beautiful Cologne, Germany where I have been living for 6 years. Since moving here I’ve been in love with this place and people’s sense of life. But I grew up in a town called Hennef which is South East of Cologne.
What genre of photography do you specialize in?
I enjoy photographing architecture or landscapes when traveling around the world, but my preferred genre is taking minimalistic animal portraits.
Describe your style of photography?
My work is mostly inspired by architectural Fine Art photography. I love this idea and even more so to transfer it to animal portraits to give them this special minimalistic kind of look.
Doing so puts them into focus and really makes a statement. I’m always fascinated by their almost human-like expressions and majestic presence, and by playing with light and contrasts, there are great possibilities to capture their individual characters.
What are you working on at the moment?
Funnily enough, right now, I’m actually working on application photos for my best friend.
Are there any photographers whose work/style you admire?
I really like Manuela Kulpa and Mathijs van den Bosch who are two of my absolute favourite photographers. I feel that their work has had a big influence on my work.
What is your favourite memory from your experiences?
It was the day when I took the picture of the drinking duck. It was a typical example of why sometimes it is good when things go wrong. After a failed attempt to photograph an old, disused military facility, I more or less reached the river Rhine by mistake. Contrasting the claustrophobic darkness and tangible feeling of menace the old bunker exuded, the duck stood calmly and peacefully by the riverside. When she started to drink, I managed to capture this moment of tranquility, serenity, and obvious implicitness of life.
What’s the biggest photographic challenge you overcame?
Being impatient while shooting and trying to fix it in the post production.
What’s in your camera bag?
My Canon 550D, several lenses, ND filters and a tripod.
What photographic equipment would you never leave home without?
Almost every time I carry my 550D on a Sun-Sniper-Strap with me. I would never leave home without my favourite lenses 50mm f1.8 and 70-200mm f4 from Canon.
What advice you would give anyone who is starting out?
Never get stuck because of your tools. No matter what camera you have, even if it’s a smartphone or a camera from the Stone Age – always focus on your motive and the right technique, it’s the most important thing that matters in photography! Remember that you don’t have to invest in expensive equipment to shoot awesome pictures.
Any pitfalls they should avoid?
Being afraid of getting their camera wet or dirty and therefore running the risk of missing an amazing shot!
Lastly… if you weren’t a photographer what would you be doing?
Not sure, but I don’t think I would be happy.
Images by Mandy Karlowski. All rights reserved. No usage without permission.
Interview by Kav Dadfar.