We’ve featured the work of Carsten Witte twice for good reason. Now we’ve taken the time to sit down and interview him about his use of sexuality, form, and exposure. Check it out!
Tell us about yourself, where are you from, is there anything you hated eating growing up but now love?
I am from Hamburg, Germany but was raised in a small town close to Hannover where I also finished school. I absolutely hated olives and anchovies when I was young, that’s different today.
Both your work and About Me sections are dedicated to the pursuit and depiction of aesthetic beauty. What about physical, visceral beauty do you find so fascinating? Do you ever consider the finiteness of the physical beauty of the women you are photographing?
That’s absolutely true. Beauty and youth and their tendencies to fade quickly is one of my main themes. There are 3 major circles dealing with this theme: Vanitas/The secret life of plants, Psyche and the intuition series. Its their perfection and the knowledge that just a camera can preserve it for a certain period of time.
Do you think there is something special about beautiful people? Are they fundamentally different from the rest of us? Why have you chosen to photograph beautiful people instead of homely or even ugly people? Is it carnal? Is it personal?
I’ve been fascinated since my early childhood by beauty. My Mom once told me that I started turning my head on beautiful women at the age of three 😀 It seems I had it in my DNA. And, there are no ugly people!
In your about me you address both the eroticism and chasteness of your work, one would think these two words are at their core contradictory. How do you achieve both simultaneously? Why is it important to you to capture both when depicting the feminine form?
I have a very high respect for women. Almost always I have long talks to my models, listening to them, what they think is important, giving them room to have a creative part of the shoot, reacting to their personality, and always keep a physical distance.
What was your first camera? What do you use now? What could you tell beginning photographers about what camera they should use?
My dad’s Canon AE1. I also shot for 2 decades with a Pentax 67, now it’s an analogue Hasselblad and a Canon 1DS MkIII
How have you experimented? Have you pursued a series that you just decided wasn’t worthwhile? Have you ever failed in a piece or group of pieces? What’s an important lesson you learned from your failures?
I guess I learned almost everything by failures 😉 but they lead to success. I am a strong believer of being a full photographer. I started with an own b/w darkroom and added the color work as well. I always did my own processing and printing. Even today. And the digital retouching is also done just by myself.
In your diptychs you have used flowers beside the bodies of women, how would you feel being compared to Georgia O’Keefe? What analogs do you see in sexuality, form, and nature? Do you hike, camp or backpack? How connected to the natural world do you consider yourself?
Being compared to her is a huge compliment. It’s impossible to invent something completely new. Parts of it have always been there. I wasn’t thinking about Mrs O’Keefe when I started this series almost 20 years ago. I guess everything I’ve seen has an impact on my work but I combine it with my personal experience into my work.
What are you working on now? What is next for you?
I still work on my major projects like the “Square” or “Gold” cycles. Brand new is a new combination of nature shots and body shapes. You can find it on my behance profile, its called “Dressed by Nature”.
What music have you been listening to recently?
Goldfrapp’s latest album, but still their old stuff as well. Gregory Porter is also on my list, as well as Pharrell…