Anna Tea is a photographer from Lutsk, Ukraine, currently based in Berlin doing her MA in Photography. From taking all sorts of pictures in her hometown to pursuing her dream and create real-life dream imagery, she has come a long way. In her work, it is all about connecting, while her most recent projects focus on women’s rights in Ukraine.
KALTBLUT: Is your daily life or your mind as colourful as your photographs?
Anna: I believe is. I am always very busy. And the things I am involved in are usually creative and exciting. I like my job, I like my uni, I do what I like every day. I am never bored, especially in Berlin. If I am not busy with my projects, I go to exhibitions, movies, parks, yoga classes or try new food. I am happy I can enjoy so many things around!
KALTBLUT: What interests you in a person, making you wanna take their picture?
Anna: First of all – facial expression. There should be an emotion that attracts me. I am not looking particularly for any specific kind of “beauty”. If the person touches me in any way, I will start talking to her/him. So far it worked great, with most of the models I had a good connection and with some, I stay in touch.
KALTBLUT: How do you come up with a project idea? What is your working process?
Anna: Well, before I moved to Germany, I did not think about project ideas. I started meditating when I was 12, I guess this influenced a lot on what I was doing. I followed my intuition kind of. Usually, I saw some pictures in my mind and then was trying to make them real, which was sometimes successful. For me communication plays a big part in my work, I like being around people and listen to their stories as well as on creating the new ones with them. In Ukraine, I used to have my small studio at home, where many people were coming and I was taking photos of them how I wanted. I was a stylist as well, and sometimes make-up artist and hairdresser. Since the town is small, there was no fashion to learn about, no big studio or production company. It was an experiment, just by trying and seeing how it goes. In Berlin, I could learn many things by working in several studios to understand how this field works in a more developed city.
For the last 2 years, I had to write concepts about my future works, explain the idea clearly. There always had to be a message which people understand, so feelings were kind of lost. For now, I am finding the balance between an interesting concept and great visual presentation.
I always write down my ideas, I have many notebooks for that as well as notes on the phone. I write and forget. Sometimes the same idea comes again and I focus on it more, try to develop it with all the details in my head. After some time I make it real by choosing people I will photograph. The process of taking photos takes much less effort than preparing the shooting.
KALTBLUT: How would you define photography as art?
Anna: Everything can be art. Photography as art comes when you do something individually important. When probably there is no pressure from anyone, but you can go with the flow and project a story/idea/emotion with the help of photography equipment.
KALTBLUT: Is photography something you always wanted to do? Why or how did it come about?
Anna: I remember I wanted to be a fashion designer for a very long time. However, I did not draw nor sew, my parents said it is impossible. I grew up in a small slow town in Ukraine, I can say it was not exactly the place to become a fashion designer haha. But at some point, I realized, that I like taking photos of my friends when we were out and especially, editing them in photoshop, trying different “tricks” from youtube lessons. I started when I was 15, it was not a chosen career or profession I wanted to follow. It was a very natural process, I was enjoying what I was doing and people started asking me to photograph them.
When I was 16, I was shooting commercial stuff in my hometown, that included weddings, parties, photo sessions for girls of the same age for a great profile picture on vk.com (similar to fb.com). It was kind of fun, I could make some money for myself being quite young. Although, I felt this is not exactly everything that is possible, so I was experimenting more and more with models (mostly random people) I could find on the internet or in the streets. They allowed me to do what I wanted and were happy to support my ideas. I’m grateful for that time, because until today the photos are being published from time to time, and because of that I could move to Berlin, do a Master of Photography and work in the creative field. I’m 25 years old and I can say, that I feel like photography will stay with me for a long time. During the last 10 years, I was never bored and there is always something to learn, to develop and to achieve.
KALTBLUT: What do you wanna work on in the future? What should we expect to see next?
Anna: Right now I am preparing the last project of my Master course. It takes a lot of time and energy already. I have a few other ideas besides that about relationships in Ukraine, about women in Ukraine. I would like to show more of what is happening in my home country, which is not visible for the EU or anywhere in the world. There are so many problems, that should be fixed and I would really love to influence positive changes there.