In an interview with The Game Magazine, Nicole Woischwill shares her artistic narrative and passion for photography. Hailing from the vibrant city of Berlin, Nicole's evocative images are a testament to her deep connection with the art form and its power to evoke raw emotion.
In a quiet corner of the dark room, Nicole Woischwill watched as the magic happened: with each dip of paper into the developer, faint images appeared, turning shadows into memories. “I discovered something turned visible; I felt an incredible surge of joy,” she says, remembering her first days in the lab. Nicole was cheering and jumping; and that simple joy she felt? It never left her side.
Although years have passed and the cameras changed from analog to digital, as the world did, Nicole’s love for analog photography remains undiminished. Today, Nicole is an accomplished photo artist based in Berlin and gained her mastery from the iconic East German photographers Sybille Bergemann and Arno Fischer. She possesses a unique vision, often capturing what many overlook. As Nicole articulates, analog photography offers a vast canvas of uncharted creative opportunities. While analog photography often evokes a nostalgic, old-school vibe, Nicole’s work transcends that, embodying distinct creative and artistic characteristics. Her unique approach in form and style dives deep into meaningful subjects.
She predominantly captures the core of human life, emotions, the interplay between environment and human sentiments, and the concerns of animals. Through her photography, Nicole doesn’t aim to dictate a narrative; rather, she invites viewers on a journey of personal introspection. “I do not want to prescribe what people should see in my pictures. People can find and feel their own stories within them. Everyone harbors their own tales of pain, loss, joy, and happiness. I’m always intrigued to see how others find reflections of themselves in my narratives.” Discover Nicole Woischwill’s narrative and her journey through photography in this interview.
“I grabbed an analog photo camera and began using it to develop my ideas. I was delighted by how quickly it allowed me to express my inner images. Since then, photography has become my language to express and communicate myself artistically.”
Can you tell us about your journey as a photographer and how you got started in the field?
At first, I was interested in painting. I always had a lot of visual ideas and tried to implement them in drawings. But painting always took me several days. At some point, the ideas overflowed, so I looked for a faster way to realize my visual concepts. I grabbed an analog photo camera and began using it to develop my ideas. I was delighted by how quickly it allowed me to express my inner images. Since then, photography has become my language to express and communicate myself artistically.
You started when the photography industry and cameras were utterly different. You also mentioned that your “photographic art is exclusively affected by analog photography.” How did you develop your unique style? What do you think about the differences?
I deepened my knowledge of analog photography during my photography studies. We developed the films ourselves and enlarged the pictures directly in the photo lab. It was always like a world of its own. You dive into the darkness of the lab. To this day, I find it fascinating to see how on a white photographic paper the latent image suddenly becomes visible in the developer. When I took the films out of the developing tank after washing and I discovered something turned visible, I felt an incredible surge of joy. In the darkness, I was cheering and jumping for joy. This fascination and passion has remained to this day.
Working as a photographer’s assistant was when I first discovered high-quality digital photography. We photographed ‘still lifes’ with the Sinar, a large format camera. At that time, we were still using Polaroid material to check the exposure before we even used the analog film material. Overnight, the Sinar got a digital back. I always had to use a computer screen to adjust the fine details. It was exciting, but at that time no one knew where the journey was going. Today, digital photography is on a whole different level and it’s hard to imagine life without it. The speed and convenience of varying light sensitivities are truly revolutionary. Back then, while choosing film, a photographer had to decide ahead of time which light sensitivity was required. But for me, analog photography is an inexhaustible source of endless creative possibilities that continue to be discovered.
“People can find and feel their own stories in it (my photos). Every person carries their own stories: pain, loss, joy and happiness. I’m always excited to see other people see themselves in my stories.”
Your artworks often incorporate elements of humans, nature and the environment. Can you discuss the inspiration behind this recurring theme and how it informs your creative process?
In my pictures, I capture what moves me. I like to work like a film director, but with photographs. Usually, it begins with a feeling that I would like to implement and suddenly it becomes a whole photographic film. When I have an idea, I usually think about which analog technique would emphasize the content. As a born city dweller, I have always been interested in stories of people and their traces. I love reading biographies to learn how they shaped and mastered their lives. You can learn a lot from it for your own life.
Your work explores the intersection of reality and imagination, which we see in some of the series like “JETZTZEITMONOLOGE” too. How do you challenge conventional perceptions of reality through your art, and what role does imagination play in your creative process?
The origin of my Camera Obscura Polaroid series “JETZTZEITMONOLOGE” was the death of my mentor, Arno Fischer. I am one of his last master’s students, and I was looking for a way to deal with the grief. Out of this feeling this series was created. Due to the long exposure times, the motifs seem more like fantasy images. I am not interested in depicting pure reality. The center of my artistic work is primarily human feelings. And I am happy when the viewer feels this as well.
Light and shadows are prominent in your photography, like the “LICHTGESTALTEN” series. How do you approach lighting and its role in creating your photographs’ desired atmosphere or mood?
In every photograph, the most important design element is light. I love to work with existing lights. Most of the time, the desired atmosphere is already present. My image series LICHTGESTALTEN was created with a self-built camera obscura and is designed as a diary.
Your artworks evoke a sense of introspection and contemplation like the “LEERE STUNDEN” series or “DREISAM”. How do you hope viewers will engage with your art, and what kind of emotional response do you aim to evoke?
The Polaroid series LEERE STUNDEN (EMPTY HOURS), for which I received recognition from the Aenne Biermann Prize for German Contemporary Photography, is a very important photographic work for me. It started with a feeling that preoccupied me, which I absolutely wanted to capture: Being lonely in a big city. With the feeling came the idea of how I wanted to implement the theme. It is about the authenticity of the images and the existing feelings. So, I converted the filmic photo work into Polaroids with selected protagonists. For me, it is important to photograph in a way that no image post-processing is needed.
LEERE STUNDEN tells the story of a woman and a man, two teenagers and an elderly lady. It is up to the viewers whether they see the story of 5 different people or just the story of two people at different times in their lives. I do not want to prescribe what people should see in my pictures. People can find and feel their own stories within them. Everyone harbors their own tales of pain, loss, joy, and happiness. I’m always intrigued to see how others find reflections of themselves in my narratives.
“Always believe in yourself! Even though there are many photographers out there, maybe you are the one who can manage to touch and succeed with your pictures.”
Your portfolio features works that explore the human body and its relationship with the surrounding environment. Could you discuss the ideas and concepts behind these projects and how they relate to your overall artistic vision?
In my portfolio, I tell different stories. Often, people and their feelings are at the center. Triggers are usually incidents from my biography or current events, which I try to process with the help of photography. Thomas Höpker once said to me that we are all introverted photographers. In a way, he is right.
As an artist who won many prizes and held multiple exhibitions, what advice do you have for those photographers who started recently?
Always believe in yourself! Even though there are many photographers out there, maybe you are the one who can manage to touch and succeed with your pictures. Be photographically passionate and strong-willed. The road can be rocky, but it is not impossible.
How do you see your work evolving in the future? Are there any specific themes or techniques you want to explore in your upcoming projects?
I am currently working on a new photographic work. It is called “Keine Sehnsucht nach Vergangenheit“ (No Longing for the Past). Next year, it will be shown in a solo exhibition in Berlin. The project was created during the pandemic. The black and white images are combined with music by singer-songwriter, Joanna Gemma Auguri. An exceptionally beautiful artistic collaboration. Therefore, my photographs can not only be seen, but also be heard.
Arno Fischer always said to us, his master’s students: “Make books!” Of course, I have taken this to heart and am already working on it.
I still have many projects in my drawers that I haven’t shown yet. Sometimes pictures just need time to mature, and I take this time, despite the fast pace of the world.