After moving to London from Germany, photographer Katja Mayer has created a style of work that is distinctive in style and lingers on the mind long after viewing. Boasting an impressive client history - including Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu - Katja has already established a firm name for herself within the creative industry.
Katja seamlessly captures elements of the human form and fuses these with traditional aspects of everyday life to create images that are equal parts unsettling and comforting, a collaboration between the world and its inhabitants.
We caught up with Katja to talk about life as a creative inspiration, growing up in the woods and breaking into the industry.
Hey Katja, what inspired your decision to start photography?
My move from Germany to the UK when I was 17. With a camera that was given to me and access to some darkroom facilities, I sort of fell into it by chance and I knew pretty quickly that this was what I was going to pursue.
What inspires the creative choices that you make?
I often get inspired by very mundane moments, like an architectural structure I have walked past many times you will later see in one of my room sets. Or a story someone tells me that I will then work into an image. I often think of larger narratives and the images depicting momentary scenes, just like film stills. It should always remain a little ambiguous as to what exactly is happening in the image.
You weave details of bodies with natural elements such as water and flowers a lot in your photography, is this a deliberate move or are these things that you find inspiration from?
Having grown up in a very rural place, I was a bit of a feral child, spending most of my time in the woods, mountains and lakes, so a big difference to how I live now in London. These opposing worlds perhaps contribute to me being drawn to mixing man-made structures with organic forms.
By removing the original context of an object and reconstructing a new one can add tension which makes a picture usually more interesting. It is a similar effect when you are mixing inherently opposing textures, like water on carpet or dirt on silk etc.
How did you get into creating work for publications?
I worked at an illustration agency right after my BA so I started by collaborating with illustrators, they would draw over images that I was working on and these were my first editorial publications. The illustrators I collaborated with, already had established practices at the time so this work later led to some bigger commercial commissions.
What advice would you give to any young creatives wanting to enter the industry?
Seek out good collaborations, find like-minded people, someone whose skills you admire. Think of your unique resources, something that you might have access to that you could utilize in some way. Don’t worry about being published at first, just think of posting images on Instagram as you self-publishing your work. It’s such a powerful tool for self-promotion and finding your audience as well as your collaborators. Try and create an environment where your opportunities will increase.
You have to be very resilient in this field and you have to be able to deal with rejection too. Find out what makes you unique; it won’t be right for everyone, neither should it be. Creative work is always subjective, it’s good to split opinions sometimes otherwise I’d worry that the work is too generic.
What is in store for you in 2021?
Hopefully everything I didn’t do in 2020 :)