Signature artist of the month
Annette Birkenfeld first fell in love with photography in the 1990s, after seeing the controversial Benetton ads shot by Italian photographer, Oliviero Toscani.
His provocative imagery put a spotlight on issues such as racism and AIDS and, having experienced the influence of these photos first-hand, Annette became entranced by the power of photography.
“These images made their way into your heart before you had the time to even think about it,” Annette said.
Today, the Berlin-based photographer uses her images to make her own statements. However, instead of focusing on the problems facing society, Annette focuses on the beauty of humanity.
“I prefer to take photos that portray a positive outlook on life and focus on love, community and friendship,” she said. “I want to show a zest for life.”
Despite her fascination with photography, Annette never expected to become a photographer. Her entry to the profession came when, while working as a web designer, she read an article that referred to iStock by Getty Images as a “designer’s dirty little secret.”
She uploaded a few of her own images to iStock, and to her surprise, several were licensed.
“Humans are social,” Annette said. “I’m convinced we can’t exist alone, so we need our community. I have a lot of people who help me and I try to help others in return. I hope my pictures inspire people to do good for their own communities.”
One of the main ways she gives back is by supporting small businesses through her photography. She loves shooting people who are passionate about their work or craft.
“People who love what they do have a certain glow in their eyes," she said. "I love capturing that.”
Photographing her subjects while in-action at work, she is able to capture their genuine passion. A series of images she captured on a farm is a great example of this.
“They are real farmers; it’s not just posing,” she said. “They have a mission to help the planet and revolutionize the agricultural economy. They are committed to what they are doing and this shows in the pictures.”
Like the people she photographs, Annette equally has that “glow."
“I love life and people," she said. "I'm convinced everybody is beautiful, and to capture this beauty in a moment is my goal and motivation.”
“I’m convinced we can’t exist alone so we need our community.”
Annette's photography uses authenticity to show the importance of having a close-knit community.
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He loves being in front of the camera, Annette said, and he wanted to show his new boyfriend how it felt to be a model, so they organized the entire shoot for him.
“He was so nervous so we had to encourage him and make him feel comfortable,” Annette said. She wasn’t sure how the images would turn out, but she ended up getting some great shots. “He now has the prints hung all over his apartment!”
When conceptualizing the shoot, it was essential to Annette that she depict the pair as she would any other couple. “In Germany we have a big gay community so it’s normal here and I think it’s necessary to show that normalcy,” she said. “We are diverse as humans so it’s important that our imagery represents this. We have to have respect and have tolerance for everyone. It’s important to present all the colors of human beings and all the colors of relationships.”