Name: Jillian Marleen Becker
Hometown: A village near Hannover
Current town: Hannover, Germany
Film and/or Digital: Film
First camera: Some compact camera that my grandparents gave to me as a child.
Current camera: Zenit-B and Minolta x-300 are the ones I use most at the moment. I have a Kodak Retinette and an Olympus mju II that I grab every now and then. I want to get more involved with my beautiful medium format camera Kiev 60 and some other cameras, like the Taxona and Minox I got but haven’t used yet.
How long have you been taking photographs?
About 6 years ago I started taking self-portraits with a cheap digital camera as a way to express my emotions without needing to speak, but I’ve been taking photographs more seriously for maybe two years. That’s also when I started using analog cameras, which is where which I found my true passion. The atmosphere that you can create with film and also the so-called “mistakes,” such as light leaks, scratches, etc, are features I absolutely adore.
Thoughts about first images ever taken, describe them?
I was a little child, so I can’t remember, but it might have been some of my beautiful budgie who passed away far too early.
What do you see when you look at your work now?
A lot of changes, growth. I’ve improved my technical skills and even though that part of photography is the least important to me, it’s good to see that I’ve become more confident at handling my cameras. Besides that, I discovered more what I really want to capture–at first I just tried out what I could do, now I have certain ideas of what mood I want to create, which people I find interesting to work with and so on. An urge for capturing moods and feelings that uncover the soul on a deeper level while stripping down the masks of daily lives, has always been present in my existence. Even as a child, I always looked for ways to express my essence with whatever medium, such as writing poems, painting and singing.
Actually, photography started off as a self-therapy for me, but now it’s so much more–it also means communicating and spending time with people who I like being with and who inspire me, the feeling you get from a harmonious, intimate and creative photo session is incredible–it’s like being in love in a way. It is love.
What do you hope others will see, if anything? Their experience?
Whatever you feel, whatever you see, whatever it does to you. It gives me so much when people can relate to my photos in their own personal way, if the images stir up a memory, a thought or provoke emotion. I want to look beyond the eyes of the people I photograph and also make others realize that intensity of the soul. There is nothing more wonderful than when a person is touched by an image and tells me so. I like to share these universes of dreams and inner states.
What do you look for in an image? What makes a great photograph for you?
Honesty and sensitivity is very important. I like beauty that shows more than a pretty surface–I want to feel the aura of someone or something when I look at a photograph. I adore images that speak of poetry, mystery, like an unrevealed dream. Dark, hidden, raw or tender–whatever feels pure and deep in a way, whatever does it to me, it’s not so predictable. I do get hooked on rather sad portraits, maybe mainly because it just touches me more than a happy face, and I have a lot of sadness within me, myself . . ..
Fiona Apple is my goddess, and Jeff Buckley my god. I admire Katie Jane Garside and the filmmaker Hans Weingärtner who has got such a beautiful mind and makes so sensitive films about themes that interest and move me a lot. Just to mention a few names, but there are so many artists I’m into and find inspiring that I don’t really want to reduce it like this.
Favorite places online?
I visit flickr daily, but the mass of beautiful and unique photos is overwhelming that I sometimes wish not to be born in the decade of virtuality. I also spend time on ebay, searching for old cameras and film to use. And of course there’s a lot beautiful music and inspiration to be found on Youtube. I like finding new photography blogs and enjoy reading interviews with other artists as well.
Artist’s Playlist: 24 tracks by Castanets, Sea Oleena, finn., Gravenhurst, First Aid Kit, Chris Garneau, Shannon Wright & Yann Tiersen, Fiona Apple, CocoRosie, Two Gallants, Jackson C. Frank, David Lemaitre, Nouvelle Vague, Scout Niblett, Sibylle Baier, Charlie Winston, Ruby Throat, Lisa Germano, Tommy Emmanuel, Alessis Ark, Fiona Apple & Elvis Costello, here: Featured Artist: Jillian Marleen Becker.
There’s one model you work with a great deal. Would you talk about that relationship?
I met the girl who became my muse in the beginning of 2011, and we had our first photo session in the spring. I remember being amazed by her powerful, pure and sensitive face that expressed emotions so naturally, but we only met few times afterwards until October and didn’t take any photos in between. Then we had the most mind-blowing session. It was a precious coincidence that we ended up in a magical attic that was like a playing field of dreams and strange moods, dust and absence. It was the first time I experienced the power of light and darkness in such intensity. The photos and moments created became fundamental and a huge inspiration for the kind of photography I wanted to keep on following.
The really interesting part was that we hardly knew each other, but we understood exactly what we want, without having to speak about it much. I believe this connection is very rare and can develop even so much more. It’s beautiful because we both value the sharing and creating immensely and found a source of expressing and studying ourselves within. I believe that only with the depth of the two of us colliding, the images can become as authentic and close as they are to me.
Where do you want to take your photography?
Oh, that’s a tough question. You know, photography has become my most treasured love besides writing and singing, my escape that makes me feel alive and really adds to the meaning of living immensely. I really can’t imagine doing without it anymore; it has blessed me with so many beautiful moments and incredible people, and has enabled me to learn a lot about myself as well. So that, in total, is worth more than I could ask for, and I just want to continue with what I love. Besides that, I feel it’s reaching a level beyond a hobby or private passion. I’m getting hungry to gain more experience, have exhibits and collaborate with other photographers whose work I feel close to.
I could imagine working for magazines that match my aesthetics and to get into projects as a freelance photographer. I finally feel that I am meant to follow my creative passions in a more eager way and I guess the next consequence is to take the huge step in admitting to myself that I am far too sensitive and full of deep feelings to live an average life.