Photography connects me with the world that I create

My name is Selina, I am 23 years old and I am currently studying English and American Studies at the University of Vienna. I have a part-time job as a barista in a café and roastery, and besides coffee, my biggest passions are fashion and music. I have been living in Vienna for a couple of years; in a couple of flats and through a few life-changing events, which inspired me to start to document moments of my life and the lives of the people around me.

I have always been an enthusiastic writer and at first, I started to note down small stories from work and from nights out together with my friends or trips I planned for summer vacations. However, none of those attempts could ever get me close to the feeling I had looking back at pictures I took during those times.

This led me to a small second-hand camera shop in the heart of the 7th district in Vienna, where I purchased my first little point and shoot analogue camera, the Canon MC. It was nothing fancy, really. There was a shutter, a little timer function and an attachable flash. However, the joy this camera brought me from the first roll of film onwards is indescribable to me. I took it with me everywhere I could; I captured little moments that might have never caught my eye before I thought through my lens.

It took me experimenting with this camera for a few months before I decided that I wanted an upgrade; something that I could take on a holiday without worrying about running out of pictures on my roll of film; something that could help me work on my precision with light and motion in pictures.

I finally decided that I wanted to invest in a system camera which would allow me to fulfil my desire to get more serious about the art of photography. So, I ended up purchasing a used Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. It came with a neck strap, two batteries and a charger and an off-brand lens which I decided would have to do for an amateur photographer like me with a budget of a part-time working student.

I felt a special connection as soon as I turned the camera on for the first time. The display reflected rich colour; the design nostalgic and minimal; the first glance through the viewfinder made me see my bed – which I was sitting on, stunned – through different eyes. I could not wait to capture new memories with this advanced camera in my hands.

The camera proved to be exactly the right choice for a photographer at my stage of knowledge – it was confusing enough that I had to spend many evenings clicking through the settings and discovering features that seemed irrelevant with my previous little point and shoot analogue camera.

However, I am certain that this camera will also accompany me many years onwards because of its powerful technology and its simple handling. This camera proves to cater to beginners like myself while I am sure that it is still exciting photographers with years of experience.

I have started to capture various moments in my life. From mundane walks home from work or exciting trips through Austria with my friends. The camera has lately found a very steady place inside its little pouch right next to me; swung over my shoulder. I see this camera as a tool to tell my stories; to explain the way I see the world and the people around me.

I have always felt a very special and intimate connection to being allowed a glimpse into the process of other people’s thinking. This reaches its climax when looking at somebody else’s photography; there is such a uniqueness about this art form that makes it astounding to me. Even if a hundred people were to take a picture of the Eiffel tower at the same exact moment there would be various angles and perspectives and colour schemes and approaches to light and motion.

And all the pictures would vary – even if just slightly – and prove that every single person has a different viewpoint; a different story that they want to tell. I have always hoped to be able to speak through my pictures; to connect with the person looking at my point of view; at my depiction of the world that we all share. Photography connects; not only people; but also, oneself with the world.

My inspiration comes mainly from my daily encounters and surroundings. I love a good, strong portrait picture as much as a low-lit rainy-day picture of the ongoing traffic. I quickly learned that my biggest fascination is black and white pictures – something magical happens when I switch on a few settings and suddenly the Vienna I know by heart turns into a contrast-rich, black and white alien place.

There is still a whole wide world of photography knowledge lying ahead of me; I still call myself a beginner nowhere close to always knowing what I am doing. However, this increases my fascination with this art form even more. As of now, I love to play with light and shadows and what the placement of such can contribute to a picture.

The most important factor for pictures that I tend to love the most is emotion. I feel myself engaging with a picture more if I am able to interpret the pictured person’s mimicry; if I can feel the cold through an icy breeze hushing through the trees; if I can feel my feet dragging along a pictured dirt road. I have always considered myself a person that seeks stories through various forms of media and, especially, photography has given me the chance to explore a new, unique way of storytelling.

I have been taking my friends for photo shootings which taught me a lot about the usage of the camera; the importance of exploring different angles and light situations as well as showing me that sometimes it really makes a difference when you quite literally get your hands dirty clinging to the ground while finding that perfect streak of light hitting the exact spot I had in mind.

I still have vivid memories of my father with his old analogue camera in hand; big bag fastened around his body while he switches films on holiday. I remember the times we drove to our closest electronics store that developed pictures and the excitement I felt while flicking through the glossy pictures on our way home. This is something I love to keep in mind while I capture new pictures; I have always been a strong believer in the sentimental value of vintage aesthetics.

Therefore, I felt my pulse racing as I first discovered the grainy black and white picture setting on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. This feature of the camera might be something being overlooked by some because it is hidden beneath a very drastic vivid colour booster and a very warm toned sepia effect. However, this grainy black and white filter allowed me to capture pictures that were closest to my beloved analogue pictures I have started out with.

The thick contrast pairs so well with the soft whites and greys and allows the pictures to work on a nearly three-dimensional level; makes them seem to be rough to the touch.

Sometimes I have the feeling deep inside of my guts that a picture will turn out well as soon as I capture a frame through my lens. I take a deep breath and try to focus on this feeling; chase the excitement I have felt while imagining the outcome. A small sound; a short moment; I lay my eyes upon the picture and I feel genuine happiness while looking at it. This is one of my favourite moments and one of the biggest forces to pull me into the world of photography.

"My name is Selina and I am 23 years old. I have been living in Vienna for a few years now and I study English and American Studies at the University of Vienna. I work as a barista, and coffee is one of my biggest passions next to music and fashion. Shopping second hand and trying to hunt for those special pieces is not only something I do with clothing but also with most of my purchases – therefore I have also bought myself a preowned camera. I love to write and have always believed that photography and writing are closely knitted art forms that allow each other to stand out even more. Sometimes I encourage myself to formulate a few words or sentences for my pictures that make them even more special then."

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