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Photo Field Trip - A Photography Festival in California

Do you remember that feeling when you were a kid, or maybe a young teenager… .that feeling of exuberant joy, and wonder about the world? Maybe because the boy/girl you liked had tentatively smiled at you, or because you got a really good grade in your worst subject, or maybe because the world was just so far and wide and all open for you and full of great things to come. Remember it?

Well, that’s the feeling I had at Photo Field Trip.

It’s a Field Trip for grown-ups, and for photographers specifically, and something that its founders (a wedding photographer, a DJ, and a TV producer) dreamed up as the perfect antidote to your typical photography conference. It’s about learning and growing your business alright, but instead of a bleak conference center, you’re in a California oak forest, with easy access to the beach; instead of the speakers standing up on a stage, so clearly on a different level, you share space in a tent or around a fire; and instead of stiff small-talk with competitors over drinks, there is a dress-up party in which everyone is invited to be exactly as weird as they are.

That’s the thing, really – there’s an atmosphere of letting everyone be just as they are. You can pretty much chat up anyone at any time (including the teachers), and it’s totally o.k. to not know how to do something, or loose your cool. (Arguably… loosing your cool is part of what this is all about!)

The people I met – Emma, Melissa, Allison, Kat and Leo, Elli, Marissa, Boo, Robert, Jaime, Armando… - all turned out to be generous, warm-hearted and thoughtful people, and hanging out with them was truly what Field Trip was all about for me.

And here’s the best part: I’m going back. In ten days, I’ll be there for Photo Field Trip 2016, and if it’s half as much fun as last year, I’ll be a very happy girl. xxT

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Back Home

This week, we finally came home after eight crazy weeks of travelling, shooting, and editing on the road. We had truly amazing times, in Austria, Andalucia, Rome, Brussels, and Stockholm. We loved every bit of it!

And now that we’re home, I am SO grateful. For sleeping in my own bed. For buying groceries at the market. For cooking my own food, every day (or enjoying Daniel’s cooking). For being able to meet my friends on a moment’s notice, and laugh or cry with them over lunch. I’m even grateful for the terrible Berlin autumn weather, which reminds me that time passes and seasons change.

I’m grateful I got to travel all summer long, and I’m so happy to have such a great place to come home to. xxT 

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Sailing Trip to Santa Cruz Island, CA

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, you may know that we recently came back from a five-weeks trip to the U.S., alternately known as “Our Honeymoon”, “The Trip” and “The Mini-Sabbatical”.  While the name and given occasion for the trip varied during the planning process, its goals were always clear: 1. to go somewhere we hadn’t been before, 2. to meet new people and reconnect with far-away friends and 3. to go with the flow and be as open as possible to whatever adventure may come along.

To make it short, we had the best time. (And I’m going to be posting bits and pieces over the months to come).

What turned out to be the most striking thing about our trip was that out of five weeks of travel, we had paid accomodation for two nights. Two. For all the other nights and days, we were very incredibly thankful to have friends, friends of friends, relatives of friends, friends of relatives and even almost total strangers provide us with a place to stay. Which truly still fills me with gratitude every time I think of it.

One of the people who hosted us so graciously was someone Daniel knew a long time ago – Sevan. He is the son of Daniel’s mom’s best friend Bettina. The two women and their sons used to spend the summers together in Salzburg, Austria, and the boys, naturally, grew to be friends. When they were ten, however, Bettina and Sevan moved to Paris, later to L.A. – and the boys never saw each other again. That is - until now, 20 years later.

Sevan, his fiancé Zoe and their daughter Kalea welcomed us into their home with truly open arms, and it was wonderful to watch Sevan and Daniel snap right back into where they had left off at ten – a quiet and mutually respecful companionship.

So when Sevan - who’s a firefighter and paramedic, and lover of all things outdoors - invited us to a two-day-trip on his old sailing boat, there wasn’t a doubt in our mind that we had to cancel our other plans, and go. Daniel had never actually set foot on a sailboat, and therefore the idea fell perfectly in line with our wish to do things we hadn’t done before.

It was also to be the boat’s last trip with Sevan, since time to sail is scarce and the costs of keeping it are high.

In preparation, Daniel and I bought ridiculous amounts of food at Wholefoods, and Zoe (who sadly had to work and couldn’t join us) lent me some of her warmer sportsclothes, that I was going to be very thankful for later. Other than that, we boarded the boat with very, very, very little knowledge about the sea and sailing.

And pretty soon, things started to go just a little differently than imagined. From the time we set foot on the boat, things didn’t work, failed, or broke. It was something of a running gag, the way lines snapped, got tangled under the anchor (which took about an hour to untangle), and parts of the boat unceremoniously broke off (and were taped and hammered together by Sevan, who proved to be a genius of improvisation). Oh, and I got pretty seasick, too. Surprisingly, none of this was able to lessen the enormous fun we had (although I did wonder at times whether we were going to make it back o.k.)

Our plan was to cross over to the Channel Islands and spend the night on the boat, to return in the morning. We sailed for something like six hours, one hour of which I used to sleep off my seasickness under deck. When I awoke, the light was low and magical, and you could see the islands coming closer. We anchored (which sounds easier than it was) and climbed into the dinghy we had been dragging behind the boat. We were supposed to take it for a spin to another beach, but – continuing the running gag of things going wrong - the dinghy’s motor died and was unwilling to be coaxed into working again. So as it was getting dark, Sevan rowed us to the closest stony beach on Santa Cruz Island instead.

Setting foot on Santa Cruz Island was a strangely magical experience. The island is largely uninhabited, and while it is far from uncharted, arriving on a deserted island via a small boat felt somewhat primeval. A few steps onto the beach, we surprised an island fox – a beautiful small creature indigenous to the island, and threatened by extinction. It ducked under a piece of wood, eyeing us shyly… and after having checked us out for a few moments, went on its light-footed way.

We strolled inland for about half an hour, until there was no light left and we were surrounded by pitch-black dark. (Those ghostly photos of Daniel carrying the water bottle and me looking up to the sky are from that time, with ridiculously high ISO.) Making our way back to the beach, we noticed right away that the waters had changed – the tide had come in and there were high waves coming at us. I was a little bit reluctant to part with my camera, but Sevan convinced me to put it in the water-safe box in the dinghy’s belly – some very good piece of advice, as I’d find out soon.

Sevan pushed us off against the waves, slung himself into the dinghy, and right away started yelling at Daniel: “Row!! Row!!”. Which Daniel did, straining against the waves which were coming at us relentlessly. I sat right in front, and saw those waves coming at us… whoa, this is going to be a big one… coming closer, closer, closer… WOOSH. The waves broke right over our heads and smashed down on us, Sevan all the way, yelling: “Row! Row!”

It probably took only about five waves until we came through into steadier water, but to see those waves coming at us, all the way wondering whether the next one was going to sink us, was certainly an experience. We were all completely soaked from head to toe. But also strangely exhilarated. What a wonderful day. We were soaked and cold, but as we toasted with beer and Ginger Ale, we were all very thankful and happy. As the boat rocked us to sleep, I slept like a stone that night.

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Moscow High – Personal Project and Exhibition

Last year we had the enormous pleasure to be invited to Moscow by Simon Mraz of the Austrian Cultural Art Forum, and spend ten days in Moscow to shoot a personal project, titled Moscow High.

We had spent a few days in Moscow earlier (maybe you remember this engagement shoot). And while we were strolling the streets at night, especially in the fashionable clubbing district around the old Red October Chocolate Factory (near the Red Square), we noticed the large amount of women, single or in pairs, always in high heels and super-fashionably dressed, who were on their way to the clubs. While the scenes in the clubs themselves often revealed boredom and loneliness – with a lot of staring at cell phones going on - the vibe on the street was one of anticipation. Walking in their skyscraper stilettos with unflinching professionalism , the women seemed concentrated and determined, as if they were on a mission. Like athletes before their performance; performers before the show.

The fruit of our exploration of this subject are right now part of an exhibition in the House on the Embankment, Moscow, and an exhibition in Vladivostok will follow in January 2015.

You can read a detailed project statement and description of our work on our website (in German), here.

And here are a few of many of the images we took in those cold Moscow spring nights. Enjoy!

xxT

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A different kind of holiday – The Balboa Castle Camp

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Last September we had the pleasure to join the Balboa Castle Camp, a week of dancing classes and parties in the romantically derelict castle of Beesenstedt, Germany.

For those of you who are not familiar with Balboa, it’s a beautiful Swing Dance developed in California at some time in the 1920s and 30s. It’s usually danced to very fast music from the era (think Artie Shaw or Django Reinhardt), but danced in a closed position – making it intensely fun and at the same time, well, pretty romantic.

Needless to say, the week was fantastic. Some of the world’s best Balboa dancers imparted some of their knowledge and glamoured up the evenings, and every night, live bands kept everyone on their feet into the wee hours.

So put on some Swing music and enjoy the blog post and/or the extended gallery!

xxT

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Look Up!

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We’re really busy at the moment, and at the rate things are going, next year is going to be an even busier year.

When I came across this photo in our archive a few days back, it grabbed my attention for some reason and I found myself looking at it at lot longer than I usually do… being the professional image-pusher that I am. :)

Taken some time back with our Zenza Bronica, (an analogue medium format camera that we hardly every use), it reminded me… to look up from work every now and then, and enjoy the beauty that’s right there in front of you, right outside your door.

Have a beautiful day!

xxT

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A Rainy Day in a French Chateau

It’s such a rainy day today, and for some reason, I had to think of another such day, a little while back… a rainy day in a French Chateau, somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

We were on our way to Dominique and Maxime`s Wedding in the Beaujolais region of France, driving from Nice, where we had spend a few precious sunny days… Yes, I admit, combining work and pleasure is one of the definitive perks of this job!

I wanted one stop-over on our way north, to arrive relaxed and ready for the big day… which is how we happened upon this gem of a place: the Chateau d’Uzer. The day we spent there it was pouring with rain, which made it almost impossible to go out… and all the better for us. We spent the day reading, listening to the rain, leafing through the photo books on the coffee tables, and wandering about the Chateau in happy appreciation; enjoying the form and colour of things, and listening to the rain.

Wishing you a happy rainy day…

xx T

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One Year - Our Own First Wedding Anniversary

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It has been one year! On May 5th, 2012, we got married in a civil ceremony in our local Kreuzberg Registry, right next to where we both went to film school. Even though we had planned for it to be a small party - just the civil ceremony after all, with our church wedding coming up next year - sixty of our closest friends and family turned up, quite a lot of them flying in especially to spend this day with us. It was a lovely day, much more emotional than we had thought, and a lot of fun. 

Believe it or not, we were so busy all year long that we have still not sorted out our own wedding photos... But we're working on it now, and I will be posting a few shots here soon. In the mean time: Happy First Anniversary to us! :) 

Teresa+Daniel 

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Jonas Peterson´s Workshop and What Makes Me Tick

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Last week I came back from London, where I spent two wonderful days with a small group of people, stuck in a City Apartment, listening and talking about photography – Jonas Peterson´s workshop “A Greater Story”.

Jonas Peterson is a man who makes a fortune every year travelling the world and shooting weddings. He’s a bit of a rock star for those who are into weddings – he gets asked for his autograph, and for pictures with his fans. More than that, he is a genuinely friendly person; he’s an artist who - as probably every artist should- struggles and fights to be truthful in what he does.

We talked about a lot of things in these two days: Storytelling, Artistic Integrity, Customers,  Facebook… even a bit of techy post-production talk. But what most struck a chord with me, and kept resonating over the following days, and is still ringing in my ears, is something that he said very early on: Find out what it is about your work that inspires you – and then do that more. Shoot what you see and what makes sense to you – not what’s expected.

For somebody whose main line of work is wedding photography – and we were all wedding photographers at this workshop – this is no trivial advice. 

You see, I know exactly what got me into photography, what mesmerized me when I first took up a camera. It’s just that, when you shoot weddings, you can get stuck on shooting tablescapes; and when you shoot actor’s portraits, you may end up worrying most about whether his agency might prefer landscape or vertical shots.

So since I started out as a professional photographer five years ago, it’s true that I have started to forget a little why I got into it in the first place.

When people ask me how I got into photography, I usually tell them about our friends, Laja and Dominique, who got married eight years ago and forgot to book a photographer. They had loved the photos that we took on our trip to India and Japan, and so they asked us if we would do it. And after a good deal of hesitation we did. And ended up loving it, and they loved their photos, and then it all went from there. 

While this story is true, this is how we ended up being PAID for photography; the initial spark happened a lot longer ago, and tells a lot more about what fascinates me about photography, and why I love what I do.

We were about 17 or so. I was talking with one of my best friends, probably about boys, and in a very cursory way she said something like: “It’s no wonder no boy likes me, the way I look.” I could tell she wasn’t being coquette – she really thought she was ugly. Which, of course, she wasn’t at all – like all of us, being 17, she was pretty, and lovely, and she had the loveliest smile in the world.

When I asked her what on earth led her to the presumption that she was ugly, she started showing me pictures of herself – and it’s true, she wasn’t  photogenic. She did look pretty terrible in the pictures. But I knew that she was beautiful, because I knew her, so I set out to prove it to her.

She got her father to lend us his SLR, and a few days later we met in my parent’s sunny garden, and started. I ended up shooting what was then an incredible 3 rolls of film. In the beginning she was nervous, but as we kept walking through the garden, giggling, sitting down, making jokes, she relaxed – she opened up. 

I showed her the pictures a few days later, the ones that I had chosen from the pile. She looked at them, she touched them, and she cried. Actually, we both cried. Something strange had happened: I had given her a different image of herself, one in which she was beautiful. And that was so powerful that it made both of us cry.

I didn’t think about it much before, but this is still what makes me tick. When I’m on the subway, or wait at the bus stop, or stand in line for something, I look at people’s faces, and I´m struck by them. I love how most people look, when they´re unaware of themselves, relaxed, just waiting somewhere. I love how they all have their dignity and beauty. How they have their wrinkles, and funny facial hair, and circles around the eyes, and dignity and beauty.

Of course there are other things that I love in photography: light, and the lack of it, the magic ingredient for all (outer) beauty; and composition, geometry. But to me, nothing beats the sheer beauty of a human face. Nothing.

Thank you Jonas for reminding me of that.

 
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