Instagram is all about selfies, sunsets, breakfast and pets, Instagram filter hell and wellness heaven. The prejudices stick. But anyone who looks a little further will find Instagrammers, that found their way to photography via the app and its social network. On a regular basis, we talk to them.
Marlène Meyer-Dunker lives, works and takes photos in Düsseldorf. Two years ago, Marlène discovered Instagram and at some point decided to become a photographer. She used to be a theatre actress, now she is the assistant of a photographer in Düsseldorf.
How did you find out about Instagram?
In March 2015, during a lunch break in my kitchen, I discovered Instagram on my new phone. I had always taken photographs with my old phone, but it was never that much fun. So, I created an account and played around. The first images I took were of a broccoli and a red pepper.
Instagram and or versus photography?
Instagram and photography. Photography has changed a lot through the new technology and social media, Instagram is just one of them.
For me, the word photography first of all means a technical process for taking a picture, and it doesn’t automatically imply quality or a good image. I find it funny, that even a ‚finger nail selfie‘ on Instagram makes me think of its value as a photograph. I wouldn’t have thought of such things before.
What do you do for a living?
I used to be a theatre actress for 13 years, which means being dressed up in ugly costumes on dusty stages without windows, rehearsing words that weren’t mine and acting in a way someone else would direct me to do. But my interest changed from being observed into observing myself.
Last summer, I finally stopped acting and decided to live a more self-determined life. I was kindly offered an internship, in Düsseldorf for a year, by a great photographer and artist. My new daily life is now doing different jobs like scanning negatives, leading an art project with students and assisting with exhibitions and learning a lot about photography by reading, training and watching.
What does your Instagram handle @reppink stand for? Is pink your favourite colour?
My first account was @olgaknipper, Olga Knipper was the wife of Anton Tschechow, one of my favorite theatre authors. For my second acount, I reversed knipper into reppink and didn’t think about the colour pink at all, but nomen est omen: more and more pink houses appeared in my feed. I like pink in a playful way, but my favorite colour is blue.
Would you call yourself a photographer?
With all due respect to professional photographers, I would say: Yes, I am a photographer. Photography has become such an important part of my life, and I am ready to work hard for it.
What do you shoot with?
Over the last year, I’ve been shooting on a mirrorless system camera. It is light, so I can always carry it with me. This camera makes me move a lot to find the exact frame I’m looking for because I mainly work with fix focal range. And I sometimes take pictures with my iPhone, which allows me to do more snapshots with less ambition, I love that too.
But I’ve come to realise that whatever camera I use, I’m always searching for the same shot. While taking a photograph, I act intrusively, but looking at the photos afterwards, I realize, that similar themes interest me: nature in urban landscape, the habits of human beeings trying to live a happy life, big existential questions that come up in the very ordinary, daily life.
When do you take your photos? Do you have any routine like exploring your environment?
It changed, I don’t shoot everything as often as possible anymore, but I started taking pictures in my mind, independent from the time. A routine I do certainly have is to revisit the same places again and again to discover new things that have changed or that I hadn’t noticed before. I like repetitions and exploring the well-known.
Do followers and likes numbers have an influence on what you share on Instagram?
Yes, I think I am a bit influenced by likes, otherwise I would post much more garbage. But I mainly post an image because I want to express something with it. Maybe an emotion, a strange atmosphere, a mixture of beauty and ugliness, something between funny and sad… any ambivalence often makes a picture relevant for me, and I want to give an attention and language to the unnoticed situations. It is a nice gesture that I appreciate, when other Instagrammers like something, but I don’t let it determine my photography.
What or who inspires you?
Exploring daily life is very inspiring to me. I can’t get enough of observing everything around me, even at home. Many Instagrammers influenced my photography. Inspired by a conversation with @jimeyrejimeyrejimeyre I discovered my balcony as a favorite subject. It started as a game: Each day I had to take a picture of or on my balcony, and Jim had to take a photo on his way to work. I live on the 5th floor and have an amazing view with incredible morning light that surrounds the chimneys of a waste incinerator, where the light always changes. The game stopped some time ago, but I keep on taking pictures there.
Inspired by @montykaplan I started to take nightshots. Inspired by @mr_sunset I can’t but see funny coincidences in the most normal situations. Through @thisaintartschool I learned a lot about important photographers. @caseyrbennet inspired me to observe the neighbourhood and always discover new things, even on the way to work. The list could go on and on …
Your three favorite Instagrammers are?
Only three? I can’t! So I say three times: Alba Giertz. Alba is my favorite photographer on Instagram and in photography in general. She speaks a visual language that I totally understand. Her photographs are beautiful, dark, romantic, sad, funny, free, radical, timeless, rough, heavy and light. She tells stories, and she has the power to touch the soul. I also enjoy her writing and how it works with her images.
My favourite work of Alba’s is a series called Alzheimer, where she shows moments of her Grandfather’s life with photographs and quotes from himself. The huge distance between the existential and the surface of a photograph can’t be bigger. The fact that Alba is so young makes her art even more intense for me, she seems to have a knowledge of life like an old lady.
Thank you, Marlène!
Follow @reppink on Instagram here.