i’ve been photographing grandma since 2006, when i noticed that she was getting really old and i was always away. our family was not the kind that would take pictures of christimas eve or birthdays, and she was barely photographed during her life. other reason, a very neurotic one, is the fact that we have the same name and in my sick little head photographing grandma – who basically raised me, as my mom was too young and still in college when she had me – is like taking self-portraits. not only for the name but for the fact we are both very much the same: arrogant, bossy, neckless women with no patience for whining people hahaha

these are some of the photos i took during the last months i was in recife. during my stay she had an accident and was for daaays in the intensive care unit. i photographed her both before and afer what happened, and have the feeling i never get close enough. i want to use these pictures for thomas’ homework about a person. in december i will be back home for christimas and have 4 extra weeks to photograph her. let’s see how it goes.

you know, when i think i’m photographing the same subject for 5 years now i get somehow proud of myself, since i am so distracted and a little careless. but yesterday i found this peace of work, from a girl from california who photographed the same person for incredible 18 years. now i’m wondering…


i know ricardo since 2003, when we lived with other 2 friends in a messy house in sao paulo. then he moved back to berlin, and we met again last year, after seven years apart.

one month ago, as our classes restarted, werner gave us a new homework, this time (eeeendlich!) on portraiture. we were supposed to take 4 portraits from the same person: one “representative”, a subjective one, a photo for passport and a photo with artificial light (that didn’t have necessarily to be made in studio).

i chose ricardo, i have to confess, because it would be easy – he loves to be photographed haha but he also inspires me as a person and as a photographer. i took hundreds of pictures of him in this life, and always in colour, so i thought it would be at least decent if i would give myself the challenge of doing this homework on black and white – which i almost never use.

we started the photos with the representative and the subjective ones (with tmax 400 and delta 400), at his place. none of them were posed (and no problem if they were, it is just extra information haha):

then for the artificial light, we used the school’s studio, and i shot it analogic – the first two ones with my old nikon’s little flash, and the last one with the backlight from a studio flash. i used a colour film (cheap kodak 400), because i thought i would want them colour, but as i developed the photos above, i decided i wanted everything bw, so i developed the prints at the black-and-white lab:

it was the first time i developed the negatives and prints myself woohoo – i think it’s kinda easy to notice, since some prints are totally skewed he

and here some of my favourite photos i took of him before that:

on my “vacations”

as i write this i already feel late, since there are so many things going on and since – guess what! – i have been photographing so much lately!

but nothing is perfect including myself  so i will keep being this lazy ass i have always been and just show one little thing tonight:

our teacher thomas sandberg has asked us to photograph our summer holidays (what he called a “vacation report”). he suggested we could do it with a disposable camera, and i was very happy, because i love them.

first of all, it was kinda hard to decide when did this “summer vacation” began for me, for several reasons – i was already in brazil since may, and did a lot of travelling there, and there is always summer, and i had the feeling (even though i did some jobs) that everyday was holiday hahaha

i decided to shoot my siblings on the small town where they live, sao joaquim do monte, 200km away from recife. i met them for the first and last time when they were 2 years old (they are twins), so they didn’t remember me at all. now they are 8, i’m 29. i thought it would be impossible not to have an interesting experience, and the little camera really helped us on getting closer. they asked me several times why i didn’t use a “digital big camera”, but they were also so curious about the functioning of it.

since my father doesn’t allow them to walk around the city on their own, on this weekend the three of us discovered the town together (the big sister was allowed to walk around at least ha). they live there, i have never been there, and was exactly this contrast that made possible to see what was for these kids interesting, refreshing my eyes. they never suggested me to shoot anything, but i could see from their reaction what was for them a little mistery, like the cemetery and a dirty smelly dead little river.

(that’s the city’s bus station, isn’t it cute?)

i showed these pictures on our first class with thomas, two weeks ago, together with some new pics from my grandmother, which i plan to write about soon. but as said i’m a lazy little ass.

moments of self-indulgence – moments of self-nonsenseness

1. you grab your negatives at lab, take a look at them and think: “b o r i n g”.

2. you start scanning them, and when put the images together, you think: “what the f was i thinking?”.

3. you show it to your friends, they say: “… but you have worked so hard, that what matters”. hmmmm… no?

4. you think: “maybe i can just become yoga teacher”.

5. you look at your pictures once again and think: “fuck it, i’ll start all over again”.

berlin, this lover

i’m back to berlin since some days. the classes started last monday, when i brought some pictures from the violence against women homework, for werner’s class, and could barely say anything about them, which was quite frustrating. my german is completely frozen, rusty. i hope it warms up on the next weeks – and i believe it will, it is simply impossible not to be on the streets talking to people in this lovely city.

i wanna finish scanning on the next days and i will post some images here.

meanwhile, a little indulgence from one of my favourite german bands, ideal (thanx, jörgi):


while photographying my violence-against-women homework, i have received some e-mails from friends, suggesting other photographers’ works i should look at.

i am very bad with references, because i am easily influenced: when i listen to beyoncé, i wanna go out with loose hair and big rings; when i listen to dolly parton, i wanna go out with cowboy boots… and so on. so when i see people’s photos, i wanna photograph just like them.

and in the end, i have the feeling that the pictures i took for this specific homework are very simple, not sophisticated enough so one can see who/where my references are. everybody knows i love nan goldin’s work, so a lot of what i pursue as photographer-wannabe is seeing things the way she does – not only with this project, but with every photograph.

anyways, here are the tips i remember i received (and being in contact with this people is already very inspiring):

raphaell dallaporta and his domestic slavery

lorena ros and her project on sex abuse survivors

andreas reeg and his project verletzte seelen (“wounded souls”, or something similar), also about sex abuse

mr. reed’s method really catch my soul, and was the work with which i was most thrilled. but i didn’t do nothing as poetical.

other very important thing was the emails exchanged between me and my school mates, and also my blonde friend laura, who’s a photographer (and former ostkreuzschule student). while i’d write them emails, things would kinda get clearer in my head – not to mention their answers, always very inspiring. thanx kasia, kevin, jakob, sarah, kamil, katja…

update on 02.09
i just remember flávia sent me two links:
ursula biemann and her geobodies
and a video, performing the border, from the same artist.

intimacy vs. rush (and one picture)

i photographed the first girl for this project more than two months ago. she is a close friend of mine, but we never talked about her violence experience. i was still a little shocked when we met to take the pictures, because i was totally unaware of what she’s been through. and as we talked, and she told me details of the violence she suffered, i was getting more and more impressed.

i always thought that intimacy would be the key to a good picture – so i was sure that with her, i could do a nice job. i was doctrinated by nan goldin and i still think that some of my best photos are product of intimacy. but now i am starting to see that it is just usefull to a photographer when the subject matter is intimacy itself, when the photographer swims through this theme – intimate moments, privacy, personal relations and so on.

last year, as i was editing the 100men pictures in order to apply to ostkreuzschule, a friend of mine, who was helping me with this process, said of a picture i took of armin: “this is one is just a nice picture. you were too close”. i was kinda angry as he said that – what the f* did he mean with “too close”? it was definetely not about physical aproximation to armin. but why is that a problem? i WANT to be close to people.

now i see what he meant: i was way too involved to be practical, to be “photographical”. now that i am not photographing my own life (finally?), i am facing myself with this challenge. personal involvement can blurry your critical view. can also blurry your view at all.

i have noticed that intimacy can be noxious.

the pictures i took of the first girl were not great. they are not bad, but i was still too close, like jörg once said about armin. i was way too much there. also, when you are making pictures of someone you know well and you need to direct her, all of the tricks you use are kinda ridiculous – the person photographed will know she’s being manipulated, because the person knows you when you are not playing the photographer’s role.

of course i still haven’t found a way out of this problem. last week i traveled to fortaleza and it was mentally exhausting – instead of intimacy being the enemy, it was the lack of time. people simply had not much time to meet me (it was holiday and father’s day) and it was the complete absence of intimacy that made me crazy. it was a nice exericse, though, to have only one hour to catch the feeling of these stories.

i am a control-freak so it is hard not to play the director. i am working on letting go. with the second girl i photographed (in recife, in early june) i was totally authoritarian, because we are not friends, i don’t know her, i told her all the time what to do. in the end, the best picture was the one she suggested (behind the leaves, by the sun). and then from the third girl on (sao paulo, in later june) i just gave up: no plans, no reference, no nothing.

since then, we meet and we see. i set the camera and start to talk. whatever the hell comes, will come.

s. has 35 years and was phisically and mentally abused by her ex-boyfriend for something like 7 years. she filed suit against him and is under protective measures. there has been no trial yet.

about money and time

so many things to share. last night, as i was writing on my journal, i noticed i am facing myself with practical issues as well as “psychological” ones, and i don’t make it to understand and process them all at the same time. i’m a mess!

the practical issues concerning this project are basically two: money and the pre-production.

1. money
working analog in brazil – specially if you are out of sao paulo, which is my case – is expensive and difficult. one can’t find films to buy – i’m a fuji person but i had to switch to kodak, simply because i didn’t find any over here – and when one finds, it is hell expensive (+- 7 euro, 35 mm, 36, 400 ASA). plus: you have no good labs, with bad development and bad prints. i am sending my stuff to a laboratory in sao paulo, and the post fees will melt my money away. and then, since paying someone to scan my negatives just increases the costs, i am scanning everything myself (thanx, severo, for lending me your scanner), but the results are not the best. at all!

besides that, there are the travels’ costs. this week i am going to joao pessoa (123 km away from recife) and fortaleza (787 km away). so think about the flight tickets, food, transportation within the cities and accomodation… then i’m broke. fortunately some great friends bought some photos of mine, with no other intention than to help me hahaha and it saved me from bankruptcy while doing this homework.

2. pre-production
i am applying a HUGE amount of time searching for girls and approaching the possible characters. i receive and answer hundreds of emails per week, make hundreds of phone calls, set appointments, go to appointments, listen to the girls and invest money and time in coffees, taxis, bus tickets… and it hardly HARDLY almost never turn into photos.

now i am reconsidering my own working process. as i began, i decided the first dates would be without camera, so me and the person would just talk and get to know each other and just get used with the theme. but now i am seriously thinking that the first date will include also some photo-taking, because the second date almost never happens.

i see that these girls, after our first contact, might realize that this is not an easy subject to talk about and change their minds about being photographed. they simply disappear, without answering any of my emails or phone calls, and without telling me they changed their minds or anything.

after me reading and listening to their stories, getting involved and getting emotional along, and after trying to shake them up (which is not my duty, I KNOW, but i feel like doing it, since i have faced it and survived it myself), i can’t help but feel very frustrated to be left behind with no conclusion. maybe if i wouldn’t be so emotional while dealing with them, i wouldn’t feel like that. but that is a subject to another post, which i plan to write asap.

i am in brazil since more than 3 months and i have photographed only 5 girls – and considering i am leaving in 40 days, it is a very bad panorama…

but then again, how many people should i photograph? photographing just a few isn’t also a result? because it is a sign of something. but there is another thing: if i would WRITE an article about violence against women, i would have more than sufficient material (really, i have listened to more than 40 testimonials). but i decided to make a photography project, so i need PHOTOS and i really think 5 girls are not enough.

i’d be more than glad to listen to some opinions on whether i am being unpractical or not haha feel free to be rude at ivanova.ivanova@gmail.com