People who know Suzana Holtgrave will most likely have a smile on their face thinking about her. Suzana is a true hippy at heart filling a room with light when she enters – loud voice, big sunnies in her face, a lot of love to give, a camera in her hand. Suzana Holtgrave is a fashion photographer based in Berlin, although you will most likely not see her around in summer, as she spends it regularly with her family in Pula, Croatia, where she was born.
Fashion has always been a big part of her life, but Suzana has not entered the industry as a fashion photographer. For many years she had worked as a fashion model, amongst others for Helmut Newton, before changing to the other side of the camera. When shooting with her you can tell that her experience as a model makes it easy for her to feel empathy and build a connection to the model. When Suzana Holtgrave does not shoot for big magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel, Elle or J’N’C, she does photo shootings for ABURY. So in case you have been wondering who the creative head is behind our shooting campaigns – meet her right here, right now: Suzana Holtgrave!
Suzana Holtgrave, start by tagging yourself with three words.
cool. creative. nice.
We believe that “hands tell stories“. What do your hands tell about you?
I have very small hands and skinny fingers – more like the hands of a child. Actually way to small for the big heavy camera. But they are strong 🙂
What is the last thing you created with your hands?
I take photos almost every day, with my small hands. That’s what I mostly create with my hands – indirectly… Apart from that I crafted a cake for a birthday party, with LV (Louis Vuitton) oblates on top… super tacky, but it was a lot of fun. He is very stylish, so it was a great fit!
If you could choose, what would you like to be able to do with your hands?
Play an instrument! Unfortunately I missed the opportunity when I was young. I’d love to be able to play the drums or the piano.
“One of a mind” underlines our strong belief in equality and the value of sharing. How does intercultural exchange benefit our global society in your eyes?
I think cultural exchange is extremely important! I am very grateful that I am part of a society where I can live in one spot but still feel like I’m a world citizen – thanks to social media, digital exchange, etc… I have always been fascinated with other cultures. When I was a young girl and people asked me where I was from I would just say “From this world”. I’m not a fan of borders.
Two years ago, you had a photo shooting in Marrakech to photograph our Windows & Doorways Collection. What do these photos tell the viewer about Marrakech?
Morocco is one of the most amazing places in the world! It was my second visit in this colourful country. The first time I was there, I visited the Sahara desert, this time I was in Marrakech for the photo shooting.
Both experiences were completely different! The first time in Morocco meant solitude and surfer vibes – the second time was right in the middle of the city buzz, in the middle of life! I loved that. I was lucky to be able to stay at the Riad Anayela, a little calm oasis in the middle of the chaos. There was no crazy tourism and it was very authentic. All in all, the country is so diverse and the people are incredibly hospitable. That means a lot to me. In fact, a country can be very beautiful, but if the people are too cold, the country is not interesting to me. People are what makes a country truly unique!
In your opinion what differentiates Morocco from other countries? What does it have that no other country has?
The light! The light is very special in Morocco – everything is dipped in orange sunlight – beautifuuuuuuuul!
© Photos by Suzana Holtgrave
Talking about other senses – how would you describe the “Tastes of Morocco” and what was/is your favourite?
I LOVE vegetarian couscous… Tajine… The herbs and spices… The tea… Mint… All the smells that are coming from every corner… Coriander, cumin, saffron, oranges… Ah – I’m getting hungry! 🙂
© Photo by Suzana Holtgrave
In what way do cultural differences in shooting locations, models, and fashion influence the result of your photos?
I love to take photos outside. That’s why I love to travel to different places. I love to tell stories, and the model has to find his/her place in the story. Everything becomes one in the end. I’m not a big studio photographer, I need the air, the smells, the people around me – that’s what inspires me and that’s how I come up with new ideas and see what happens. And of course these influences differ depending on the culture. I am Croatian, so I love to shoot in Croatia! The location is stunning, the light is fantastic… and the people are more relaxed. Everything is a bit more wild and free – not as many prohibitions like in Germany. That’s why I love sneaky guerrilla shootings… hahaha!
You are working with models from all over the world. What is your personal definition of beauty and your personal definition of style?
I don’t have a recipe for beauty. I love when we love ourselves and when something exciting happens. I don’t like dead, blank faces. I am shocked by all the botox faces, operated lips etc… We are moving into the wrong direction with that. I love natural beauty and special faces – not the typical “everybody’s darling” faces – rather types that tell a story with their faces.
Talking about a women’s closet – how would you describe your own style and what intercultural aspects do you have in your wardrobe?
I am hippie – happy hippie! I’ve always been that and will always be that. Even if I moved with some fashion trends and had blonde teased hair a la Blondie, or shaved punky hair… I was always hippy at heart! No matter if in high heels and latex clothes or in a man’s suit (I love suits!) – Always positive, always love! My signature features: Big hat, big glasses, long hair (and a wonderful look to hide yourself).
We are curious – which one is your favourite ABURY Bag?