Interview with Elena Helfrecht

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself. Let’s say, start with the first picture you remember of that drove you into photography?
A. I don’t really remember a first picture, but my first subject was nature. When I started photography with my dad’s old camera I was fascinated by all those little details people walked past without even noticing. As I always loved to draw I soon discovered the camera as a medium closer to my head’s imagery. I still scribble and draw, but only for my own pleasure and to relax. I guess each artist has his or her very own medium that is closest to the heart. For me it’s photography.12039442_361793763991252_5496751894647228102_n944667_388698771300751_7729754644696226161_n

Q. How would you describe your personality? How much of it do you think you show in your works?
A. I am full of contradictions. It is very difficult to describe myself but I think I show everything of it in my works. I have a lot of black humor and I am not as serious and quiet as my works might seem. I also have a very childish and joyful side, next to the depressed and gloomy one of course.10291171_386510684852893_2965189289081122102_n12049272_360678017436160_2354565990085494540_n

Q. One can simply not see your works in a single glance, there’s layers and layers of meaning within them. Where do you get such depth from?
A. I don’t think art can exist without a certain depth. I put a lot of my own experiences, emotions and suffering into my images. I show the things beneath our human surface. In my photography I always want to tell stories. The things worth being told are rarely superficial.10955299_330329613804334_4744898785151380291_n12066064_364492923721336_1724268393260442657_n

Q. Every event in a person’s life helps them be what they are. Is there any particular life event that led you into photography?
A. It was a lucky accident my dad gave me his old camera. I always felt the need to express myself. I wrote poems and drew until I discovered photography as my preferred medium. It allows me to show my perspective and reality more accurate and detailed.11811499_335515396619089_1901780170122303265_n156284_383168811853747_2774617777833034266_n

Q. Share with us your favorite picture and tell us the story behind it?
A. I don’t have a favorite image. But I can say I especially adore the photographs telling other people’s stories. I think I like my series “The Pure” and “Fragile Warrior” very much. For “The Pure” I photographed Roland Walter, a performance artist and photographer with Spacticity. He is one of the happiest persons I ever met, you can’t help yourself but be happy around him. His body is incredible. While other people have their muscles
relaxed and you have to tell them to tense them, his whole body is without a pause in so much dynamic and tension. It was fascinating photographing him and capturing his essence – he is a wonderful person. “Fragile Warrior” tells about a wonderful woman and loving mother who successfully fought breast cancer. She also is a fascinating person with a beautiful mind, full of joie de vivre, always putting a smile on everyone’s face.

fragile warrior
Image from the series- “Fragile Warrior”.
the pure
Image from the series- “The Pure”.

Q. Do you sketch/draw your ideas before you actually execute them?
A. I never drew my ideas before executing them. Maybe once or twice to explain my concept easier to the model. Sometimes I write things down
when I have some ideas, but I never draw them.11254056_325697400934222_189919241463672425_n

Q. By far, what has been your darkest dream? Did you photograph it yet?
A. I have a lot of dark dreams and I visualized most of them. In my series “Nightmares”, which I still expand, I let out my childhood fears and other bad dreams. This starts with monsters in the closet and ends with the feeling of sleep paralysis. I also treat more emotional, irrational fears which can hardly be described in words. In general it is easier for me to phrase my thoughts in pictures.

Q. There’s a lot of surrealism in your pictures, do you think taking pictures is an escape from the real world?
A. First of all there is the definition of reality. What is real, what is not? We all define this word differently, what seems to be real from our point of view might be nonexistent for the next one. I always show my very own reality in my photographs. A reality which would normally be nonvisible.
For me it is not really an escape but more a way of coping with the world and the problems of my own reality, which is often a distorted one.12193696_370136543156974_8701218714542261366_n12196201_371434526360509_6804846939648680292_n

Q. What do you get inspired by the most? Music or text?
A. I think both equally, but most of all visual art. I studied Art History and visit a lot of exhibitions, galleries and museums. Besides my photography
this is my big passion. I also read a lot about artists I am interested in (which would again be text). I have a very emotional perception and my mood can easily be influenced by different arts and media. While editing my photos I often listen to the music which fits to the mood I had when taking the photos.
Sometimes this music is just silence and the natural sounds around me, my own breath and my own heartbeat. It really depends.12342649_380426365461325_4088902870726418865_n

Q. Lastly, what do you have in plan for your near future?
A. I still want to get my master’s degree in Art History. I am also saving for a new camera and I want to find more time for my art next to my job.
There are some projects I am working on with friends, like a Tarot set and a book, but everything really without any pressure.11148646_370703369766958_2539825840088467175_n1610065_389082711262357_6336153535758842982_n11951847_352528858251076_596621690880217905_n

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