Photographer Interview: Sanja Hurem


Sanja comes from a very international background. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She grew up in Germany, Czech Republic and the US. She studied at Central Saint Martin’s College for Art in London, UK. And in her adult life, besides bouncing from Berlin to Prague, she’s lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and now New York City has been home for a few months. As you can see from her work below, her new location has had a great influence on her inspiring photography, which I’ve been following for years. Check out my first interview with Sanja from November 2012 on Little London Observationist and her own website, www.sanjaphotography.com.

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LO: In three sentences or less, give us a glimpse into the daily life of Sanja Hurem.
SH: Creating work and receiving critiques, day in and day out. Understanding myself more each day, so that I am able to express my true vision more honestly. Enjoying New York City.

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LO: With such an international background, where are you living now? What is it about your newest surroundings that makes you most happy?
SH: That’s a really good question. Just recently somebody asked me what country I am a citizen of, and one of the things I said is that I belong to more cultures and countries than I can be a citizen of. With my residence, it’s not much different. Berlin is my base, my parents are in Prague, and my artist heart has recently fallen hard for NYC, which is where I have been for the past months.

What makes me most happy about NYC is the unpredictability of each day. Everything seems to be moving and developing quickly, but you still have to be very persistent and patient if you want to establish a network in this city.

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LO: Looking back at 2013, which photo are you most proud to have taken and why?
SH: I’d say that would be one of my nature shots, and it would be very hard to choose just one photo. I’d say the whole series is the one I’m most proud of, because it was a real step out of my comfort zone to photograph nature. I was very much inspired by Alice in Wonderland, one of my favourite stories, and through that inspiration the series shows a very personal vision of nature.

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LO: Why is photography important to you?
SH: Photography is important to me because it is a way to express the un-sayable. Words only go so far, and that’s when other perceptions become more accurate in perceiving something. The colour, the light, the atmosphere – words can approach the real feeling, but an image actually captures it visually. No matter what is going on in my life, art helps me turn my energy into creativity. That’s what photography has done for me.

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LO: Share your favourite New York City discovery.
SH: That’s a tough one, but I’d have to say that Archangel Antiques in the East Village is a real treasure trove. They have all kinds of beautiful and unique items, and that little shop really does feel like another realm in the city.

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LO: What do you think of when you hear the following and New York City? 
Sight: Skyscrapers
Sound: Traffic during rush hour
Smell: The smell of nuts sold on little carts at every corner
Taste: Guacamole
Touch: Photo paper

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LO: What do you think of when you hear the following and Sarajevo, where you were born? 
Sight: The cobble stones in the beautiful old town
Sound: People chatting in Cafes
Smell: The smell of strong black coffee
Taste: Sweet Baklava
Touch: Engraving of copper cups (traditionally used to serve the coffee)

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LO: What are three observations you’ve made about New York City while out and about with your camera?
SH: That you can see anything here if you look close enough, that the city abounds with epic scenes, and that New Yorkers for the most part really don’t care whether they end up in your picture.

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LO: What do you hope to focus on in 2014 in terms of photography?
SH: Throughout the past year, I’ve focussed on creating work with a strong sense of magical realism. I’d like to continue my development in that direction. I find that the discovery of the “hidden realm” within seemingly every-day situations drives my desire to work with the camera. At the same time, the magical realm becomes a new-found home that is always recognisable to me, no matter where I happen to be.

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LO: Share three websites or blogs that inspire you.
1. www.mymodernmet.com/– these guys somehow always find the most mind-blowing artwork
2. http://www.snotm.com/– This blog is just full of little pearls of wisdom and beautiful illustration work by Alex Noriega
3. http://dodgeburn.blogspot.com/– A great blog by a former ICP student featuring inspiring photographers

Thanks Sanja!

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