Voices of Sonder: Freya Hinrichs

The first thing I noticed about Freya Hinrichs when I first saw her was her laugh: wholehearted, loud and sincere. I met Freya at the sea, in a small village at the German Baltic sea. We worked at the same café during the summer and oftentimes ended our days around the fire, playing music and talking about life.

When I rushed up the stairs to the small French Café where we met this past Friday night, I could already see her through the window: smiling broadly even though I was late. We talked about her photography and an upcoming short film, the importance of people in her life and her art, personal growth, and her plans for the future.

This interview is in English. You can read the German version here.

Freya Hinrichs
© Freya Hinrichs

Daria: You’re a passionate photographer. Who or what inspires your art?

Freya: That’s a broad topic. There are, of course, classical photographers such as Irving Penn, who did black and white fashion photography and portraits. They collaborated with different fashion designers and majorly influenced the world of fashion with their portraits. There’s always the same tough question: whether or not fashion photography is art as well because it’s been commercialized. It’s always been one of my major influences though. Fashion is highly expressive, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or generated by the industry in order to be meaningful.

Generally speaking, I am influenced by the things around me that move me in some way. It can be a color, a simple moment, a memory, a feeling… this moment of emitting sparks where you feel the urge to capture this idea, moment, or thing, or to explore something more deeply.

As I began to engage more deeply with photography as such I became a little less impulsive about my work. I didn’t just let things happen but began to actively think about what I wanted to say.

Freya Hinrichs
© Freya Hinrichs
Freya Hinrichs
© Freya Hinrichs

„I find it hard to say that something is beautiful – that a picture or a photo is beautiful. A photograph doesn’t need to be beautiful in order to have a meaning.”

D: For quite some time your Instagram bio was merely a statement: “Explanation killz the art man!” Do you think that art should generally speak for itself?

F: I’ve always found it incredibly hard to say that something is beautiful – that a picture or a photo is beautiful. A photograph doesn’t need to be beautiful in order to have a meaning. The same thing goes for film and other forms of art – music and lyrics can be completely alienated and still be special. Art is about creating a moment that you won’t forget. I believe that when you create this moment you don’t need an explanation or even a title. The beholders can decide what they see in it. That, to me, is a good photograph and a good piece of art.

Of course, it’s amazing to have many discussions and to maybe even explain something. I always find it extremely difficult to summarize a work of art in one sentence. When I think about my short film and try to catch its essence… it seems almost impossible.

Freya Hinrichs
© Freya Hinrichs

D: When did you create this short film?

F: I’m still working on it. It’s a project that’s been close to my heart for almost two years now. I sometimes struggled to keep it going due to some injuries but things are finally picking up speed again: you could say that the rollercoaster is all the way at the top and it’s almost tipping over. Since I’ve got so much time I could really engage with the ideas I’ve had: what I want to write about, what message I want to convey, how I want to use different forms of artistic expression, and how I want to catch my viewers’ eyes. I want to be able to look back on this film in five or ten years and say, “This was my first short film!” I don’t just want to start shooting. This project needs time and I won’t add a time limit but I hope to start shooting it in the summer.

D: Can you tell us what it’s about yet?

F: It’s based around a utopia/dystopia theme. It’s basically about the essence of friendship, of a group and how the people in it harmonize. There will be a comparison to the self: How do I act in a group? What are my characteristics, why do act a certain way?

Freya Hinrichs
© Freya Hinrichs
Freya Hinrichs
© Freya Hinrichs

A correlation of different opinions and a constant dealing with contradictions

D: This interview series is based on the idea of “sonder” – the realization that every person’s life is just as intricate and diverse as your own. Your artistic focus also lies on people: you take portraits, support fashion assignments, and create your own projects. How do you define your role behind the camera with regard to the subject in front of it?

F: A photograph may originate from my idea but it couldn’t be done without the people I work with. I believe that, especially in the field of photography, you always need someone who comes up with an idea and several other people to put the idea into effect. Art, to me, is a correlation of different opinions and a constant dealing with contradictions. This wouldn’t work without my team: people who inspire me and go along with me. That’s how new ideas arise.

D: What do self-portraits mean to you?

F: Self-portraits are about the process of self-reflection. I’ve taken self-portraits on a few occasions – especially in the beginning, when I didn’t have the means or a teams yet. I think that this time was highly important as it allowed me to enter a stage of self-reflection that I seldom experienced this intensively afterwards.

Many people enjoy finding their way, secluded and on their own. I occasionally need this in order to ground myself, yet in the end I can only truly fulfill myself among others. I want to experience all of this with other people – that’s what’s alluring to me.

Freya Hinrichs
© Philip Wilson

“I like to engage with as much as possible and try different things.”

D: You enrolled at university as a geological science major last year but dropped out in order to pursue a photography apprenticeship. How do you feel about this change of plans?

F: For me, it was one of these steps where you realize this isn’t the right thing for you. While it may seem like you’ve initially moved backwards you can then proceed to move forwards. When you’re faced with multiple journeys and choose one but realize that it may not have been the right choice, you’ve gained something in the end. I feel all the more encouraged to follow this other path, my art, and to make sure that I keep moving forward.

While I could have imagined to keep studying I also think that I am not the kind of person who is all about this one pursuit. You know, the people who go, “That’s me.” Some people are like that and that’s great but I like to engage with as much as possible and try different things.

Freya Hinrichs
© Freya Hinrichs
Freya Hinrichs
© Freya Hinrichs

D: What personal growth are you currently working on?

F: My personal challenge is this journey of officially engaging with the working environment. It’s not always easy but I like to believe that we are given many different options and I am confident that I will eventually find my place in this world. Even though I also hope that it will change again and again. Right now I want to stay within the arts; that’s where I want to evolve.

Some people whom I’ve always been around are becoming extremely successful at the moment. That’s where you gotta stop driving yourself crazy. I try to stay true to myself and keep doing my thing without getting sidetracked too often. It always looks so easy. And still it is a lot of work and time, many ups and downs. In the end, you’ll look back on your own process and see that and how you’ve grown.

Freya Hinrichs
© Freya Hinrichs

„I want to engage in a settled and down-to-earth collective of artists who work in a harmonic chaos”

D: Where will you be in three years?

F: Hopefully busy working on projects with my crew. I want to have finished my short film and I want to plan several art exhibitions – not necessarily for myself but for other artists as well. I want to engage in a settled and down-to-earth collective of artists who work in a harmonic chaos. Other than that, I will be wherever new things await me.


Follow Freya on Facebook and Instagram, and check out her Flickr gallery.

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