Photographer, painter, designer – Erika Astrid moves effortlessly between genres. In 2012, the self-taught artist moved from Germany to the USA, where she established herself as a fashion photographer under her two first names. The series shown here, which was taken in the autumn of 2019, was named after the singer Lana Del Rey – because music also offers an important impulse for Erika Astrid to constantly express her creativity in new ways.
How did you get into photography?
In Jan 2012 I was still working on my fashion label ASUYETA when I moved from Germany to the US (Idaho). I couldn’t find anyone to shoot my pieces so I started doing it myself, fell instantly in love with photography, and never looked back. I had always been interested in photography but was too scared to really pursue it until I had no choice. I am glad it worked out that way.
You are a painter as well. What is the connection between photography and painting? And do you prefer one or the other?
I love all kinds of ways to express my creativity, so depending on the mood I’m in or the subject I’m working with, I paint, photograph, collage, etc.. I love them all equally.
Do you see yourself as a photographer or an artist in general?
I would call myself an artist, because I love to do so many different things and my mind thinks about art all day long: everything I do, I do to express myself and how I am feeling at that time. I think artists are just a different kind of breed and misunderstood a lot of times. I sometimes think that it must be so much easier to be normal – whatever that means.
What do you find most challenging when taking photos?
Probably working with clients who hire me for me, but then want something super commercial and something that is not me at all. I can do that for a bit, but easily feel burned out and my creativity really gets lost. That’s why I’ve taken a step back to only doing what I love and shooting when I want to, and not when I have to, because it was killing my creativity. I also just moved out of LA and am looking for a little farm on the east coast to live a simple life where I can just create.
How would you describe your concept of beauty?
I’m not sure if I have a concept of beauty, but I’m definitely not attracted to the typical beauty standards – which luckily are changing. I see beauty in the weirdness and depth of each person. I don’t like perfection or anything boring or shallow.
How was it to work with the Leica S system?
The feel and look of the images are so dreamy, unlike any other digital camera I have ever used. The lenses are beautiful and so is the body. It is definitely much heavier than the cameras I am used to and you can feel it after shooting a full day, but its so worth it! Its also super easy to figure out.
What type of lighting appeals to you the most?
Depends on what mood I am in. I love natural light, specifically direct high noon sunlight (which most people hate), because I love to play with light and shadows. However, I also love playing with studio lighting. I honestly just love learning and growing constantly and not being stagnant.
What advice would you give younger photographers?
Just keep shooting and experimenting; and don’t think you know it all and that your images are perfect. Always try to improve and don’t take yourself or the industry too seriously, otherwise it (the industry) will eat you alive.
Erika Astrid was born in Gießen in 1984 and is a self-taught photographer. From 2002 to 2004, she trained as an advertisement designer, and in 2004 established a fashion label that she ran up until 2013. When she moved to the USA in 2012, she began working in fashion photography. Her work has been published in Harper’s Bazaar, Tush, Vogue Italia, Nylon, Paper, and Marie Claire, among others. Her clients include labels such as Fendi and Nike. Find out more about her photography on her website and Instagram channel.
Find Erika Astrids portfolio Wild at Heart in LFI Magazine 4/21.