Interview with analog photographer Anna Breit
In our interview, Anna shares with us what it’s like to work exclusively analog, how she got into photography and why limitations potentially enrich both, her work and her personal life.
You recently moved from Vienna to Paris. How has the change of location impacted your everyday life?
Very little has changed in the way I work, but of course everything in my daily life has changed. I stepped out of my comfort zone and consciously left a certain security behind.
What made you go to Paris in the first place?
Actually, it was a coincidence. I was in Paris the year before last during Paris Photo, because I had a book signing at Polycopies and that was coincidentally exactly the time when my beloved WG had dissolved and then I thought to myself before I look for an apartment in Vienna, I use the beauty of the chance and look for an apartment in another city.
Is there something you miss about Vienna?
My friends and family everyday.
Do you feel like you have found a second home now or do you want to move on to another city again, if so, which city and why?
Paris is definitely not like a second home for me. I like being there, but I’m not as in love with Paris as I was with New York, for example. And to answer your next question, yes, I plan to go to New York in the fall. I’ve loved the city since the first time I was there. I don’t think I want to move there completely. But who knows.
From may 9th until may 30th you are part of the exhibition visage(s) d’europe in Paris, showing your project facing traditions. Could you tell us about your connection to your hometown, the traditions which shaped you and particularly their impact on your (visual) perception?
I feel connected to Vienna because I feel connected to my friends and most of them happen to live there. But I don’t feel connected to Austria in any way. I hate Austrian traditions, therefore I hate the right-wing government. Scenically, it’s not mine either. Mountains depress me.
Your experience in the creative industry range from exhibitions to publishing a book to working for big names in the fashion world like mytheresa. What challenges you most, what excites you most?
To be honest, I love commissioned work like fashion shoots as much as artistic work! I regularly ask myself if I have to choose one of the two worlds, either art or fashion. However, I always come to the conclusion that I don’t want to. I have phases where I do more commissioned work, and then there are phases again, like now, where I focus more on my artistic work. Both areas enrich each other, I would say.
Which project are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m working on a new book, which consists more or less archival material from the last few years. Again, it’s about portraits, but it’s a very different approach than my first book, “Teens (in their rooms)“.
Is there a form you like best, which makes a work feel most complete? Single print, exhibition, book, magazine, campaign…or any other form?
It’s hard to say, because everything has something to it. But making books is really great. But not everything fits in a book, of course. I think every discipline requires a different form.
Does working exclusively analog limit you sometimes?
Yes, but I am consciously limiting myself.
What motivated this decision?
Like Paris, this was also a coincidence. I was very lucky to inherit a Leica M6 from my grandfather, and I’ve been working with it ever since I got it. I only work with this camera, and I now know it so well that I feel very secure, which is pleasant for me because I can concentrate entirely on the person I’m photographing and that is the most important thing for me in my work. Another reason for my decision is that no one can see the photos before I consciously show them. That’s like a superpower for me that makes me feel much safer.
Does analog deter some clients due to the risk or the not so directly possible results? That they can’t see the results while shooting?
Yes, sometimes. But it really depends on the client. Commercial clients aren’t particularly happy about it in the first place, but then on set they’re very relaxed because they can’t do anything but trust me.
Is the analog predominant in other areas of your life as well? E book or real book? Notes app and iCalender or handwritten calendar?
I’m interested in digital development in general. Not that I come across as a regressive person here. I don’t have any e books, though. Calendars wise, I use everything. For birthdays the calendar on my phone, for jobs a handwritten calendar and for thoughts that come to my mind notes and screenshots of them.
Was there a certain moment when you knew you wanted to work with photography?
I started taking pictures of my pets and family at a very early age, so I was interested in photography when I was a teenager, but I never thought about becoming a photographer. I wanted to do theater for a little while, but I felt like I wasn’t that good at it, so I thought, okay, maybe I should try photography because it felt more natural to me. Then I applied for an internship in New York and started assisting there. That was the first conscious step in that direction, I would say.
Did you go to art school or get a traditional degree from an educational institution or are you self-taught?
I didn’t go to art school. I applied a few times, but I guess I was never good enough. Also, I always had problems in school and I have a problem with authority, so maybe it wasn’t my path.
Can art can be taught?
Yes, I definitely believe that. Anyone can learn languages. Some easier, some not so easy, but anyone can learn them. That’s the same with art I think. It just depends on your interests and your surrounding, I would say.
Do you have role-models?
There are a lot of people I admire. But that changes from time to time. When I was a teenager, it was Rio Reiser for example. But people like my mother and Nan Goldin are all time favorites, I would say.
You also dj, so I wonder how you would describe yourself? Photographer, artist?
Photographer and DJ – that sounds like the worst combination. DJ is just a side hobby. I wouldn’t call myself that. I see myself more as a party girl and organizer, since I started the event series “Sniffin’Glue” with my dear friend Marlene. Professionally, I would call myself a photographer.
Could you tell us about the role music plays in your life? Is there a playlist / artist / set that you love to put on while working?
Music plays a big role in my life. In my teenage years I listened to punk, in my early 20s I listened to techno and now I listen mostly to wave and post punk. Most of the time I listen to mixtapes from friends, like Andrea Ida or listen to music by friends like Robert Schwarz.
Something people wouldn’t expect of you, a little personal fun fact?
I hate sleeping.
Image credits: © Anna Breit