I cover all sorts of news, including sports, finance, politics, entertainment, contemporary issues and feature stories. Since I’ve been based in Frankfurt, a large part of my work has been covering financial news and shooting German soccer league matches.
My earliest memory of photography goes back to when I was about six years old, and wouldn’t stop begging my father to give me a camera. Finally he handed over an old compact camera with a slide film. I was pretty disappointed with the result; I got small-framed, transparent pictures and not one single print to show around.
I studied photography at a college in Vienna. I did not really learn to take pictures or to report during that time, but I had got experience with all the classic types of photography. It just pointed my way forward. Photography, for me, is still a developing process and a learning experience.
My first job in the news was very unspectacular. I was assigned by an Austrian paper to shoot set pictures of a TV series. I felt very uncomfortable. I was the only female photographer there and the men acted as if I didn’t exist. I was squeezed and terribly pushed around and I just tried to find a spot to shoot through or between them. At home I looked at the images and thought: “I cannot deliver these awful pictures”. But in the end, the paper’s chief editor was very pleased and I signed my first contract as a news photographer.
The assignment that left the biggest mark on me was definitely the case of Josef Fritzl, who held his daughter captive for 24 years in a basement and fathered seven children with her in an incestuous relationship. The facts themselves were already terrible enough to be remembered. Added to that, I felt others in the media behaved badly, as they climbed trees or tried to sneak into hospital to take pictures or get in touch with the victims. The experience has made me even more careful about my behaviour as a journalist.
I like covering assignments in which I can move around easily (it’s best of all if I’m outside) and I particularly enjoy covering little stories. I appreciate the possibility of chatting with people and getting access to their homes or having a look at the issues they face day-to-day. Ordinary life can be something very extraordinary.
I try to approach the assignments I shoot in an unbiased way, and I hope that my audience does the same thing when they look at the pictures.
I learn big lessons every day. But if I had to choose just one, it would be this: back when I was with the newspaper, and had been working for about 3 months, a colleague took away my camera and checked my settings. He gave it back to me and said: “I have adjusted your setup properly, AF is now on the back button”. That little affair has simplified and changed my photography!
I have huge respect for all photographers and journalists around the world who get attacked, injured, imprisoned or even killed for doing their job.
Equally, I respect photographers who show much more with their pictures than the shapes you actually see. The ability to convey emotions and moods is something very special.
Being a news photographer can be very frustrating because a perfect picture is not always possible. Recently, I have started accepting and even sometimes preferring pictures with a slight imperfections; I believe they make the photography more real, alive and human.