Conversations: Christiane Bördner

For our latest project ‘Conversations’ we had a chat with Christiane Bördner, Creative Director of I love you Magazine. Our ‘Conversations’ involve Art Directors, Photo Editors and Curators and their perception of contemporary photography. (Interview by Evelyn Dragan)

In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?

A good photograph has to tell a story.

What big of a part does photography play in your job?

I run a design agency with my husband – the photographer Marcus Gaab – in Berlin. Focusing on lifestyle, luxury, and media industries, we design content and communication strategies. In 2009, I started the fashion magazine I love you and in 2012 we launched our travel magazine called Endless. 70% of my daily business has to do with photography – creating photo concepts, being on shoots and editing pictures. When I work for clients, the briefings are clear and everything is planned in advance. I am involved in the whole process, I am at the shoots and we discuss every step with the client. Working on the magazine is a little different. With I love you I choose to work with photographers whose work I admire and who I like to work with personally. Each issue has a certain topic which has to be interpreted by the photo team and that’s all I tell the photographers and stylists. I try to leave them as much freedom as they need to work under perfect circumstances to get an inspiring result and to create something new. Most of the time. I don’t even show up to the editorial shoots because I don’t want to control the process and I don’t want to interfere. I am very excited about the design process and I love it when I don’t know how the end result is going to look like. It is a great playground which teaches me how to enhance my design skills and my work as an Art Director.

What kind of photography do you want to see more of? What kind of photography do you want to see less of?

I would like to see more autobiographical work – especially in fashion photography which I think is very boring at the moment. I would love to see more personal and emotional work. Something that tells a story rather than selling clothes and just pleasing fashion brands. Everybody seems to try to make it right and only a few people dare to try something new and experiment around. In many magazines these days, you can’t even distinguish between editorial and advertising – it all looks the same. People are so scared about failing, especially the young photographers, which I think is very sad. Especially if you are young and have no clients and briefs to handle you should set yourself no limits and follow your visions, have fun and be creative.

Working in and around photography, what steps do you take to publish / distribute / create the kind of pictures you wish to see more?

I started with I love you as a publishing project to realize my own visions and to create a platform for young and not yet established photographers to give new creatives a chance to be published. For me, as a Creative Director, it is the perfect platform to get to know all these talented Writers, Artists, Designers and Photographers. It’s not always easy and you need a lot of patience to motivate photographers to go one step further and dare to create something new and I am not there yet, but it is definitely worth trying. It has brought me a lot of new friends and helped me to create my own creative network.

What do you think has changed about photography since 1990?

Since 1990, the internet and technology have changed photography a lot. Photography is no longer just an art form and elitist to just a few who can afford to own a good camera. With social media, photography has become the media to document our daily life and became kind of our social diary and sketchbook. Nowadays, to become a successful photographer, it’s not enough to just take great pictures, you should create your own media platform, get followers and fans and make yourself a brand. Great cameras and professional light is getting affordable and creating your own blog and reaching out to the world costs nothing and is easy to handle.

Look at Scott Schumann from The Satorialist or Garance Dore: Bloggers becoming Photographers and shooting big campaigns these days. The way we consume photography through the Internet also changed our attention span and our perception. Image overload might have destroyed our visual excitement, therefore I think it is very important to follow your own path and not to focus too much on what others do. Focus on what you have to say.

Since it is possible to record HD videos with small cameras or even your mobile phone and internet connections are getting faster, Photographers become Directors now which I think is a great opportunity. It is very exciting to deal with sound, movement and storytelling.

What is your opinion on Instagram?

I like the idea of Instagram being the new Polaroid. I think Instagram is fantastic to play with. Instagram might change photography the same way Ikea and H&M made style democratic and affordable for everybody – it‘s doable for everybody.

Any photographers to keep an eye on?

I believe in my I love you Photo Team, I think they all have great potential and I wish them all the best! It would make me so proud if one of my new finds is going to be very successful.