No right-click allowed. © Mareike Keicher

Tag : biography

Left: Dianne Newman, 1966, Neal Barr. Gelatin silver print, 17 x 13 7/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council. © Neal Barr. Right: Black Evening Dress, New York, negative 1963; print 1994, Hiro. Dye imbibition print, 19 1/4 x 15 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council. © Hiro

Groundbreaking Fashion Photographers: Part 2

To anyone in the fashion and publication industry, Diana Vreeland is a household name. She was the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and she established herself as a highly influential industry icon. In a documentary about her life and career, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, she says,

“Fashion is part of the daily air and it changes all the time, with all the events. You can even see the approaching of a revolution in clothes. You can see and feel everything in clothes.”

In such few words, Vreeland articulates the significance of fashion reporting and artistic appreciation. The art form is an expression of identity as well as social and cultural moments. Fashion photographers are the documentarians of both, exactly the way photojournalists are as they capture events and stories. Through the creative expression of this visual medium, we understand the role fashion plays in reflecting culture and society. The four photographers below have been integral to shaping the very nature of that medium. They forged lasting images and established new perspectives that document how we live our lives at any moment in time through what we wear.

Regina Relang (1906-1989)

“Masterly composed, poetic, and extraordinarily elegant photos from the world of fashion were Regina Relang’s hallmark.”

Before fashion photography could be revolutionized, it needed to be established as its own medium. Few photographic artists did that with as much influence as Relang.
With her body of work, she epitomized the feminine ideal with glamorous haute couture images that featured the likes of Yves Saint-Laurent, Pierre Cardin and Christian Dior. She was self-taught as both a fashion photographer and photojournalist, forging a career that began in 1938 when she published photos in the French, American and British editions of Vogue.  

Relang held a unique position in the world of fashion: She was embedded in the world before, during and after the 1950s. The decade marks the turning point in women’s fashion as couture clothing and fashion publications began trickling down to middle-class consumers, paving the way towards accessible glamour. Relang documented the evolution yet stayed true to her photographic approach of a high-end sartorial aesthetic.

With undeniable elegance, Relang captured images of haute couture femininity with a feeling of whimsy. The evening gowns, cocktail dresses, daytime ensembles and accessories were the priorities in her photographs — and the women who adorned them seem to have fallen in love with the garments, emanating sheer delight while wearing them. More often than not, Relang’s photos carried a happy and joyous mood presented with a cheeky and understated power.

Considered the go-to photographer of Parisian haute couture, Relang’s work was regularly featured in American and European publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Die Dame, Madame, Film und Frau and Constanze

David Bailey, CBE (b. 1938)

“You treat each person as an individual…You adapt to who you’re photographing. It’s their personality, not mine I want.”

Bailey is thought of today as one of the greatest living portrait photographers. Pop-cultural history at large recognizes him as one of the most revolutionary fashion photographers who not only captured the spirit of “Swinging London” in the 1960s but influenced its very existence. He began his career in 1959 when he assisted photographers at the John French Studio, and before long, he was contracted as a freelance fashion photographer for British Vogue.

With an eccentric personality and a stripped-down portrait aesthetic, Bailey skyrocketed to relevance. He photographed the upper echelon of celebrity and style, from actors to musicians to supermodels, embracing a wildly wonderful time period of cultural rebellion. Based on his candid photography and immersion in the celebrity world, he popularized the figure of the paparazzi photographer who documents the social lives of famous folks. His lifestyle directly influenced the seminal film Blow-Up.

Artsy remarks that Bailey’s signature style “broke down barriers of class and race” with a “youthful, punk aesthetic.” This can easily be seen in the way Bailey captured his subjects as larger than life — and more significant than what they were wearing. Before he made his mark on the industry, fashion photography hardly favored close-up framing in the style of portraiture. Bailey, however, changed that. Look no further than his 1964 portrait of Mick Jagger: With its tight framing and command of the camera, the viewer is drawn first to Jagger’s eyes and facial expression. The fur of his hood, which actually dominates the image, is secondary.

Without a doubt, Bailey has reimagined the way photographers capture fashion, culture and individuality at the same time. His decades-long career includes work with leading magazines and fashion publications, and he co-founded the U.K.’s stylish Ritz Newspaper. He’s published several photo books, earned a Lifetime Achievement award from the International Center of Photography and received the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II.

Irving Penn (1917-2009)

“Many photographers feel their client is the subject. My client is a woman in Kansas who reads Vogue. I’m trying to intrigue, stimulate, feed her.”

If photography is documentation, then Penn’s work elevated it to a fine art form for the fashion world. He dreamed of being a painter while growing up, and he translated his artistic techniques to photography when he began studying under photographer and art director Alexey Brodovitch at Harper’s Bazaar. A short while later, he began working for Vogue as an art director while nurturing his interest in fashion photography.

Penn’s career took off in the early 1950s. He carved a niche for himself in the fashion world for sophisticated and astonishingly clear portraiture. The studio was always the ideal place for Penn to capture models, as he favored sparse backgrounds over props and decor, and sleek minimalism over grandeur scenery. When traveling for Vogue, he preferred to capture his subjects outdoors and in natural light, capturing the essence of the models.

In 1950, Penn photographed model Jean Patchett for the cover of Vogue in a style that’s true to his visually striking aesthetic. It features a clean, blank background that’s free of any distractions. The deep contrast between black and white is overwhelmingly noticeable, grabbing the viewer’s attention immediately. Because of the way Penn framed and arranged the shot, the details and textures of Patchett’s garments and accessories are all the more noticeable and visually appealing, which is most certainly the goal of fashion photography.

Penn didn’t limit his photography to the realm of fashion. He regularly shot portraits of celebrities and still life photographs. In the 1960s and ‘70s, he revived an old photographic printing process (platinum printing) which had been used in the 19th century. This revival led to a renaissance of sorts for artistic photography, and his influence rippled across the art world. Penn published numerous photo books and worked for several publications through photo shoots and advertising. 
He also published such books as Inventive Paris Clothes, 1909-1939: A Photographic Essay by Irving Penn; Flowers; Passage: A Work Record; Moments Preserved: Eight Essays in Photographs and Words; and Still Life: Irving Penn Photographs, 1938-2000.

Bill Cunningham (1929-2016)

“I don’t decide anything. I let the street speak to me, and in order for the street to speak to you, you’ve got to stay out there and see what it is.”

The ever-observant and unassuming Cunningham was a fashion photographer unlike any other. He turned the everyday New Yorker into a prospective model, a sartorial inspiration and an artistic muse. As a fashion photographer for The New York Times for 40 years, he documented runway shows, high-society events and, most notably, the everyday individual on the streets of the city.

Cunningham was a unique sort of documentarian. He was best known throughout the city as the man on his bike (film camera in one hand and the handlebars in the other), keeping pace with city traffic while snapping photographs of anyone who caught his eye.

The Times wrote in his obituary,

“At the Pierre hotel on the East Side of Manhattan, he pointed his camera at tweed-wearing blue-blood New Yorkers with names like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. Downtown, by the piers, he clicked away at crop-top-wearing Voguers. Up in Harlem, he jumped off his bicycle — he rode more than 30 over the years, replacing one after another as they were wrecked or stolen — for B-boys in low-slung jeans.”

To select his most iconic images would be a rather difficult feat — over the course of his career, the negatives from all of his events piled up to probably an unfathomable number. He documented people exactly as they were, viewing them through a lens of admiration and curiosity. He revolutionized fashion photography as a whole by pointing his camera in a different direction, ushering the influence of the industry up from the streets themselves.

A 2010 documentary titled Bill Cunningham New York is perhaps the closest portrait of the photographer that exists. He was known and appreciated by countless entities in the worlds of fashion, photography and New York society. During his career, he oversaw the columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” for The Times for decades.


While photography is a technical skill, there are many ways to infuse the practice with artistic perspectives and individual aesthetic styles. The careers of the photographers above all vary greatly by these qualities. As you can also gather, there are many ways into the profession and industry — whether you’re an artist, you’re self-taught, you work as an assistant, or you’re a journalist. Each of these paths have been walked by iconic and successful photographers. What separated them and made them unforgettable was creating an image that left a truly lasting impression.

Want to read about more groundbreaking fashion photographers? Check out part one!

Groundbreaking Fashion Photographers: Part 1

In an interview for the 2021 documentary In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye, the iconic Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour describes the sartorial medium as follows:

“Fashion can tell you everything about what’s going on in the world — with a strong fashion image.”

Photographs of models dressed in designer clothing convey far more than just a garment. They’re an emotive reflection of a social and cultural moment in time, offering a dreamlike portal to the period of its creation. Like all art forms, fashion photography at its core is about storytelling. Flipping through the pages of Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar can stir the same exploratory wonder of visiting an art gallery.

Women’s fashion experienced a key moment of change after World War II. Models in the first half of the century embodied classic beauty and style on par with elite society, and photography itself was more in line with portraiture. During the 1950s, the luxury of women’s fashion expanded its reach and became more attainable for magazine readers in different facets of society.

This glamorous new era launched the careers of the industry’s most iconic photographers, and their work continues to inspire today.

Richard Avedon (1923-2004)

“If each photograph steals a bit of the soul, isn’t it possible that I give up pieces of mine every time I take a picture?”

Richard Lee/New York Post Archives

Born and raised in New York City, Avedon forged a groundbreaking career in fashion and portrait photography. He began his freelance career as a photographer for Harper’s Bazaar at the age of 22. He captured images of models in candid motion at uncommon locations like the streets, the beach and even the circus. Inspired deeply by the person in front of the lens, Avedon aimed to portray subjects’ personal characteristics as they revealed themselves in real time.

The Avedon Foundation writes of Avedon in a biography:

“He was fascinated by photography’s capacity for suggesting the personality and evoking the life of his subjects. He registered poses, attitudes, hairstyles, clothing and accessories as vital, revelatory elements of an image. He had complete confidence in the two-dimensional nature of photography, the rules of which he bent to his stylistic and narrative purposes.”

Dovima with Elephants, Evening Dress by Dior, Cirque d’Hiver, Paris August 1955
© 2021 The Richard Avedon Foundation

One of Avedon’s most prolific photographs reflects the transition of fashion in the 1950s. He photographed Dovima, an American model, interacting with live elephants. Taken in 1955, the image reveals the intersection of two fashion worlds: the era of classic haute couture and the era of the everyday glamorous woman.

The Independent Photographer describes the impact of the image:

“By juxtaposing the strength of the elephants with the delicacy of Dovima’s body and gown — the first dress by Dior that was designed by Yves Saint Laurent — the picture also brings movement to a medium which had, until that point, been typified by stillness.”

Avedon’s point of view revealed how portrait photography can deepen the emotive impact of a fashion photograph, elevating it from an advertisement of apparel to an image of a model who evokes more than the brand or design but the feelings within it. His work was published in such Life, Look, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and many others.

Ellen von Unwerth (b. 1954)

“I like to photograph anyone before they know what their best angles are.”

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, von Unwerth entered the entertainment industry after high school when she joined a circus. She performed stunts and assisted in magic shows. A photographer at this time spotted her and asked if she would be a mode, and she moved to Paris when she was 20 to begin her career. For 10 years, she was immersed in the fashion industry.

While von Unwerth was a successful model, it wasn’t until she received a camera as a gift that she began exploring life behind the lens. She had already felt that models needed more freedom and consideration while being photographed, and this led to her doing an impromptu photo shoot of her own while working in Africa. She captured the models on the shoot from her own perspective and discovered she had a talent for achieving the creative atmosphere she’d been desiring as a model.

It was in 1989 that von Unwerth catapulted herself into the fashion photography industry with a single image. She shot an ad for Guess that featured a then-unknown model, Claudia Schiffer, outfitted in jeans, a Western-style belt and scarf, while a man in a cowboy hat watches her. Schiffer almost seems caught off-guard in the image, her eyes gazing slightly off-camera, but she stands bold and confident in foreground — a feminine sexual appeal that became von Unwerth’s signature style.

Both Schiffer and von Unwerth skyrocketed to the top of the industry, with Schiffer becoming one of her generation’s most successful supermodels, and with von Unwerth carving a creative niche that was characterized by empowered models and feminine sexuality. The photographer’s work has spanned leading publications like Vanity Fair, The Face, Vogue, i-D and others. She continues to work today, capturing models for major cosmetics and fashion brands.

Von Unwerth’s foundation as a model-turned-photographer brings a level of agency for the model to the forefront of the image. The subjects are not just bodies in front of her camera: they have an equally important role in bringing their emotive skills to the image. The model is just as important as the photographer.

Helmut Newton (1920-2004)

“I hate good taste. It’s the worst thing that can happen to a creative person.”

Newton’s work is practically synonymous with fashion photography. The German-Australian visionary has long been considered one of the most influential figures in the industry, contributing to British Vogue, Australian Vogue, French Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Playboy, Queen and other seminal publications. He was born as Helmut Neustädter in Berlin, his family fled to Singapore in 1938 before being interned by authorities and sent to Australia, and he served in the Australian army for five years. He changed his surname to Newton in 1946, and he opened a photography studio in Europe in the 1950s.

If there’s one word that describes Newton’s approach to fashion photography, it’s radical. He had a subversive preoccupation with nude figures, and he accentuated the mood of his photographs with dramatic lighting and sexually charged atmospheres. Much of his work portrayed women in provocative situations, capturing their movements with a voyeuristic lens that pushed the envelope, to say the least. His images were intentionally focused on gender and sexuality, and he often emphasized feelings of femininity and masculinity.

Woman Examining Man by Helmut Newton

Among his many iconic photographs is “Woman Examining Man, 1975.” It was a work that titillated the public for its portrayal of a woman’s sexual gaze. In the image, a woman sits on a couch dressed comfortably in a dress, her legs open in a masculine manner, gazing at a man in the foreground who wears only pants. The erotic nature of the scene stirred the masses considerably, as it reversed traditional assumptions of gender dominance. It’s quintessentially Newton-esque.

For his part, Newton didn’t shy away from the spectrum of sexuality that was often hidden from view. His work represents the way sexuality and gender play a role in the way we live our lives and the ways we express  private. Capturing those moments and emotions prompts inward consideration of how we do that ourselves. He published photography books titled White Women, Big Nudes and World Without Men. Throughout his career, he photographed the likes of Cindy Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Julia Roberts, Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Twiggy.

Deborah Turbeville (1932-2013)

“In my pictures, you never know, that’s the mystery. It’s just a suggestion and you leave it to the audience to put what they want on it. It’s fashion in disguise.”

American photographer Turbeville cut her teeth in the fashion industry in the 1950s as a designer’s assistant, sample model and magazine editor for Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle. She was admittedly uninterested in editorial work, and in the 1960s, she trained herself in photography under the tutelage of Richard Avedon. She is widely remembered for capturing a more feminine perspective and introducing a dark aesthetic that unsettled and delighted viewers at the same time.

Until Turbeville’s breakthrough in the 1970s, fashion photography was relatively clean, polished and well-lit. Turbeville introduced an avant-garde approach that featured models with somber expressions, existing in sparse spaces and somewhat gloomy environments. Perhaps her most famous image (or infamous, depending on who you ask) is her 1975 photo of five women in an abandoned bath house. Dressed in white swimwear and attire, the subjects cast scattered gazes around the frame in a seemingly incongruous manner. Their expressions are deeply internal, and the scene itself implies the absence of a welcome onlooker.

From the Bath House Series, Vogue, 1975

Turbeville’s photography is often called haunting, dreamy, theatrical and gritty. The New Yorker describes her work as having “a visionary quality, as if these women, these places, were hallucinated, not documented.” Fashion designs, in Turbeville’s world, were ancillary to the subjects captured.

She almost exclusively shot in black and white or sepia tone, and she enjoyed turning traditional photo prints on their head by distressing the negatives. It wasn’t rebellion for the sake of rebellion — Turbeville worked from a deeply emotional place. “In what kind of mood would a woman be, wearing whatever? I go into a woman’s private world, where you never go,” she told The New York Times in 1977. In this way, Turbeville exposed the fashion world (and even the art world, the literary world and the readers of magazines) to a woman’s psyche. If male-driven photography favored how women look from the outside, Turbeville showed us how they feel on the inside and how fashion can embody that.

In the world of photography, fashion has become one of the most artistically charged forms of media. It renders a perspective of the world through more than clothing — it embodies a mood reflective of people and society at a certain point in time, and it relies on the marriage of narrative perspective and technical prowess on the part of the photographer. If fashion itself tells a story, then fashion photography is its much-anticipated sequel.


Do you have any suggestions, additions, is this post out of date, or have you found any mistakes? Then we look forward to reading your comments. You are welcome to share this post. We are very grateful for every recommendation.

A heart-warming Story of Nina Kramberger

It’s easy to see at the moment how the Coronavirus pandemic is not psychologically good for the people of Germany. The last 5 months have been cold and also socially cold. Lockdown time. However, we have found a retoucher who listens to her heart and has found what she needs to be happy and healthy. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Traveling gives her back a piece of freedom, a fresh mind. An opportunity to do her job in a healthy and happy way and in a heavenly place.

I would love to start with the story of Nina Kramberger. For those of you who don’t know her yet, I’m here to give you more insight into her life.

What was your unique personal journey to becoming a retoucher & photographer, Nina?

After a few difficulties starting, I decided to take photography training in Munich. It is not easy to find a perfect option where you can learn a lot but at the same time have a certain level of professionalism. I definitely did not want to take passport pictures, but the human-related direction was important to me. Through the vocational school, I came to Schöttger Photography. They are a photography duo focused on the product area (Swarovski, Marco Polo, s. Oliver, etc.), but they also do beauty. Their equipment was very impressive.

They really challenged me there, and I learned everything from start to finish. Schöttger Photography also had a fixed in-house retoucher. He did a lot of CGI and even finished a lot of technically built retouching for products in Photoshop. So I learned a lot about this type of retouching and had a lot of fun playing around. Which is really important.

Shortly before the final exam, I heard from a friend who found out via Facebook that Andreas Ortner was looking for an assistant.
The day before my final exam at 7 pm – I remember it as if it was yesterday – I had been invited to meet Andreas at a job interview in Munich and was really nervous. So many thoughts were running through my mind.
Actually, it was more like: I wanted to get to know him, but could not imagine that I would get the job in the end.
The team and I then talked. Initially, only one internship was announced. But I immediately told him I would also like to earn money with it and actually want to travel. The retouching topic came up, and he told me that you do not need to worry anymore if you are good at retouching. And I started to smile. 

Everything went superfast from there. I was invited the following week to do some trial work.
But I still know that I was overthinking everything after that day. Of course, I did my best on the day. So I sat on the ground, and he said, “Niiina?” And I thought: Oh God, what is he going to tell me? And then he told me that it’s nice that I’m here. Then, at that moment, referring to Andreas, I was so happy. It was definitely the right choice. I took care of his studio for one and a half years. It was a lot of work, but I learnt a lot.

I also tested a lot because I could use the studio. I had many notable publications in that year, and it was a really fun time for me.


I partly did the retouching at night, while working as an  assistant during the day. The whole first year I was working 24/7, but I also loved it.

I put everything  that was not my job as the 2nd priority. I had a boyfriend back then. In the end, he told me: “If I don’t come over to the studio, then I don’t see you anymore.” And it was actually like that. And naturally, I had no social life. It did not matter if there was a birthday party or another party. I always said I have no idea what’s going on at work at that time. So I made no plans at all.
After a year, I realized that I could not continue that way. 

Furthermore, I realized that the assistant job was not the right option for me. I’m not the best assistant either. 

After that time I called Andreas howling: “Andreas, I’m so sorry, but I need to stop the way I’m working right now.”

I knew that helping out in the studio might be connected to working with Andreas.

So how did it end?

I still remember it clearly; I assisted with a Dolce & Gabbana campaign in Milan, while working for Andreas. I was mega nervous. And I also know that before I went there, a friend asked me about my life goals. At that time, I said: Exactly this kind of campaign photography.

Then I was on the set. I hung on a one-meter cable with a laptop on the photographer. And D&G campaigns are quite crazy because they run around on the street without the road being closed. About 20 people are paid just to get the releases signed from random people in the images. Accordingly, the photographer was running on the busy roads around Milan to have these models photographed. Can you believe this?

The photographer did a really good job in that situation. However, I could see how stressful these days have been. That was my turning point. Of course, not every campaign is shot like that. I only started to generally question my goals: Which working conditions do I prefer (also in the long term)? Which ones do I like?
So I switched perspectives. With my retouching:

  • I earn good money.
  • I can survive well.
  • Not only that, but I have freedom in my life. I can work from anywhere.

It is the perfect thing. I found my dream job and can still work with Andreas.
And whenever I like, I still have the knowledge and connections to slip back into the role of the photographer.

Tell me when was the first time you traveled with a client or boss?

In general, I’ve been traveling a lot. I always combine traveling with photography. When I travel, I still have my camera with me and then trigger myself to take photos abroad because there are new locations.

Back then, Andreas said to me: “Yes, go travel with me.” It was really fantastic when I was on the road a lot with Andreas during my  time as an assistant.

We have been to many great cities: from Amsterdam to Switzerland. And the best places were L.A. and Malibu. I was not only an assistant and retoucher but also a digital operator and filmmaker, which was also very exciting, I have to say. That was by far the greatest challenge of all. During those three weeks, I didn’t sleep at all because I couldn’t cope with the time difference. Also, I put a lot of pressure on myself to deliver the best possible results. In retrospect, everything went well. It was an amazing experience. I learned a lot.

Getting to where you are currently in your career means a lot of hard work. There are always a few people who have given us special support. Who would you say “thank you” to again at this point?

Andreas has now become my best friend, my mentor, my role model. I just really like him personally. He’s a super social, great person who does really cool things, and I take my hat off to him.

It’s just his thing. He can take photos every day. He can deliver on set every day, is always motivated, and he never gets stressed out. When you can see that the people you work with appreciate your work – as Andreas does – that’s fun – and then it’s almost not like working. I can do night shifts without any end if I really love the project. And, of course, the positive feedback afterward – I love it. That gives me so much energy. 

I think I could thank Andreas every day. Sometimes I have to take a step back because I’m a very emotional person and really appreciate it. I have to be careful that I don’t tell him every day how great he is. But I think he knows.

It is really exceptional that I made this connection with Andreas. I was just very, very lucky.

Now that you are no longer on-site in the studio, do you think that could lead to Andreas also working with others?

Every day he gets inquiries from some retouchers who would do everything for him for free. Often he says that he is just so happy with my work that he doesn’t want anyone else. So every time he sends me things, it’s just fun, and I really appreciate it.

I just do what I think is right, and I return it to him, and he says, “Amazing shit, send it over!” and it fits. I still don’t really want to work with anyone else because I just love it that much.

Let’s talk a bit about your energy sources.

You told me you are a bit addicted to the sun – it’s like a magnet pulling you outside. No doubt, the sun makes us all healthy and happy. How do you manage to enjoy the sun during the day and work in the evening/at night? What’s your secret recipe?

So I love great weather. I am a sun-loving person. I can’t sit in front of the computer when the sun is shining outside. The same is true in Hamburg or in Munich in the summer.
I always arrange my work in such a way that I work at night. If you can make the day more flexible, then you can do sports whenever you want, and much more.

A lot of people think that with me, that I’m not working because I only post pictures of myself sitting in the sun online. They don’t know that I’ve just done about 10 night shifts. However, I don’t understand the point and purpose of posting my graphics tablet pen every day. Sure, I love retouching. And that’s why I post enough material on my channel. But that’s not something I have to share in my stories every day. I work enough and hard enough to shape it up, which I’m actually quite proud of.

For Nina, it has become a permanent routine to travel to Cape Town in winter. When we talked to each other, I noticed how happy she was there at the moment.

What advantages does Cape Town have for you?

Actually, I’m a social-connected person. At the beginning of my retouching career, I came home, and because I had nothing to do there, I sat down in my chair and worked nonstop. After some time, I became aware of the feeling of being alone. Similar to what people feel during the home-office lockdown time right now.

It felt like an inner crisis – I noticed ok; it’s merely having contact with others; this is what I need. So I changed it by working with others side by side, like my own private concept of a co-working space. 

On top of that, in Hamburg, it’s not very nice in the winter. Cape Town is ideal:
The weather is a dream.
The landscape is a dream.
Also, the food! It’s a super cheap life here. With great people … everything is just a dream.

Since last year, when I was in Cape Town, I’ve noticed that it’s best to combine it with work. Especially in the sense of the very slight time difference.

Besides, there are many people in the business here. You can make a lot of connections all the time, which is really worth it. Sure, this is partly true at the moment. Now, from a professional point of view, it is just as deadly as at home.

On the other hand, we have restaurants, and everything is open. It’s livelier here, a thousand times better than in Germany.
I don’t think there has been anyone I have met in Cape Town who has somehow said they regret being here.

Can you imagine living in Cape Town?

So really living here, as some do, I can’t imagine that. I think then I would no longer appreciate it the way I appreciate it now. And I also think the German summer is totally awesome. But in winter, I think there’s no better place to be.

This is a personal question. Nina, tell me three things that make you feel comfy while traveling/being abroad?

Here’s my favorite quote: “Find three hobbies: one that makes you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to keep you creative.”

It’s also the location which we found and learn to love,
the like-minded people here in Cape Town. We are together 24/7. Because of the international mix in the house, every day is somehow special.

Here’s a deeper insight into the villa, the location.

The villa is really amazing; you can actually only get in via connections. This is not an Airbnb hotspot. Friends of friends actually come in via a recommendation. The reason behind it is that the mindset is similar: Those people want to work a little, make connections, and get ahead somehow together. That’s a part of the villa’s concept, and I think that’s awesome here. Everyone has the same vibe.

There are 14 bedrooms on four floors, with a kitchen on each floor. There are two pools, plus a gym.

We are pleased to provide a special deal for our readers. Of course, we are also looking forward to supporting the expansion & amenities of the villa at the same time.

Contact: Steve van Rooyen
+27 61 510 6385


Let’s talk about things that keep most of us trapped inside our comfort zone. Some people have fears or uncertainties about combining holidays and working somewhere else. Can you refute these – according to your personal experience, that could help someone be braver?

What cultural, local rules should we know about when traveling to Cape Town?

It’s clear that in Cape Town, there is a massive gap between rich and poor. You just have to be careful. Many are frustrated because they don’t have anything here. On the other hand, you also see the other people who are grateful that you are there. Because without you, tourism wouldn’t be possible at all. 

But as I said, if you stick to the country’s rules, that’s not an issue here. You can also prevent theft by not wearing jewelry or leaving anything valuable in the car. Don’t walk around alone at night; Uber is the safer alternative.

This year there was a curfew from 8 pm or 9 pm, which meant you didn’t even experience walking around alone at night. This year I didn’t have that feeling of fear either. I think it can happen to you anywhere else.

We all know it can be a nightmare when a deadline gets closer and the internet connection gives up. What do you recommend doing or buying to guarantee a stable internet connection?

First, Cape Town is a really good choice when it comes to co-working spaces.
However, there is load shedding here. Meaning, the electricity is simply gone for 2 hours. Then the internet is gone, and then the water supply is gone. That’s not so nice. 

At the same time, there are a lot of places here that have generators. So Steve, the property owner, is doing his best so that people can work here without restrictions. 

You can help yourself here, and you don’t need it all the time.
Sure, it’s difficult in terms of live retouching. You will need to reschedule.

Load shedding happened maybe 10 times, of which you don’t notice five times because it was at night. So it’s not that bad if you are aware of it in advance. And I think that load shedding is the worst that can happen here. In the worst case scenario, the internet can also fail at home. And even if it does happen then, I think it’s like at home. If the internet fails, you have to make a phone call or develop some kind of plan B. Fortunately, I know a lot of people who I can go to who will help me out. So that was the case when my internet went down recently in the other Airbnb apartment. I always had a plan B in the back of my mind.

Fortunately, I’m superb with my deadlines. I don’t think there has ever been a job that I finished on the last day. 

I’m very German with my submission times (very punctual). There are so many things that could happen: I can hurt myself, or a friend needs something, or the internet just doesn’t work. So I’m usually so good at my deadlines that it always works out with at least a day’s buffer, even if the customer still wants something. And when you plan a little, almost nothing can actually happen.

In theory, you can even communicate with your clients. Somehow you noticed that it might be getting too tight that you ask how bad it would be if you sent it over one day later or in two parcels.

I want to free myself a little from these fears. Sure, it’s good if you are prepared for it. For example, I have a mobile phone contract with unlimited internet data. Sometimes I sit in a café with no internet. Then I can send pictures via my hotspot. Sure it’s not working for a 100 photo package, but for urgent and essential things. I think I should find out why I am afraid and decide how I can deal with what I am so scared of with a plan B.

What kind of internet speeds do you have?

I’ll check it out. It’s not as fast as it is at home, but I haven’t had any problems either. But as I said, it is so important to Steve that everyone can work here comfortably. Sooner or later, there will be the craziest internet speed here and probably the craziest generator that everyone is well-equipped with.

If you are a remote worker with several clients, do your clients need to know that you are currently traveling? How did they react in the past? Do you get booked less on average when you’re in Cape Town?

Not at all. So far, it has not bothered anyone. As long as the essential requirements are ok, e.g., meeting deadlines and delivering the same quality.

The only critical things are large image packages. And when you have to match colors of sent products with the monitor colors accurately. In this case, you can use the product shots they sent as a reference. Sometimes it is even better to use these product images as a guide. So that the online results are all consistent. The process of color matching with actual products is definitely more error-prone.

How many clients/images do you think you can look after as a retoucher when you are in such a wonderful place? Do you have to cut corners here?

Of course, you have stressful phases, and then you consciously seek balance. But so far, it has not been the case that I intentionally looked for less or accepted less work because of traveling.

Three more questions that are more Corona related.

I know we all no longer want to deal with the subject of Corona. However, many did not have the opportunity to experience firsthand how traveling has changed due to Corona. Can you give us some insights and experiences? 

As I said before, I am a very social person. With Corona at the moment, being at home permanently isn’t easy. And then you sit at home the rest of the time because of work … and I had the feeling that everyone was scared. Afraid of me too, because I came from Cape Town, and they heard about the mutations.

Flying – that’s no problem if you really look at the guidelines. Now, for example, you needed two tests. Then it’s easy on the plane itself, because it’s almost empty there, and the airport is also empty. So as long as you have your Corona tests, everything is fine. It makes sense; the rest is like normal flying. It’s actually even better. Every time I had a long-distance flight, I had a complete row of seats where I slept. They are currently making it difficult to enter and leave Cape Town. Then you have to fly over Johannesburg. I had to accept it as part of being here.

When entering the country, you have to be in quarantine for 10 days. Alternatively, you can be tested after 5 days. That’s not a problem for me either. 

But it feels like there is no Corona here. The number of cases is decreasing. In the beginning, of course, I was skeptical.
But I was very happy to be here again in Cape Town. It’s a massive difference in comparison to Germany. 

What did you learn concerning work-life balance in the Corona period? 

I am convinced that the psyche is super important. And that’s why I find the current situation in Germany very extreme. I just see what’s going on in everybody’s minds. I noticed on the street how people interact with one another.

It’s awful to see that because I know that it will shape our image of human beings. 

And of course, when the media communicate Corona news every day … I’ve been home for three weeks in between my Cape Town visits. I was in that same pattern again. Not only that, but I also noticed that I was not doing well at that time, and therefore, you can’t blame anyone for that. I’m actually worried about where this is going. I have no idea what long-term consequences this has. Furthermore, I look at my friends, who reach their limits; how long will they be able to work with low levels of energy? That’s why it was worth it to me to take the risk of coming to Cape Town. You can also book a flight every day. Obviously, it’s a 12-hour flight now, but it’s not the end of the world. And as I said, it’s really very progressive here, at least in the areas where I’ve been to.

In terms of work, you never know about the future. Last year for 2 or 3 months, business was completely dead for me, and then I dedicated myself to do my own special Corona project. And this year … Well, January is always relatively quiet, and February too. But somehow around the start of the year, I felt with the whole Corona thing that it will get worse this year. More of a feeling. So it’s still quiet at the moment. From the end of March and especially in April, there is a lot to do. At least that’s what my calendar tells me at the moment. There are always phases during the Corona time.

In between, I also notice that you are on the verge of worrying when there is a quieter phase. And then suddenly another job confirmation comes the next day. 

Meanwhile, I’ve also learned to live with these ups and downs, to really enjoy it when there is nothing to do. Because it is really rare that there is nothing to be done. So when there are high amounts of work, I really work through a month without a break. So it would be best if you had these other moments as well.
Of course, you are first worried because you don’t have any kind of paid vacation, and that’s just part of self-employment. I have no idea what exactly is going on next month – no clue. I don’t know if everything will be canceled again. You can’t plan anything.

I think you have to trust it a little. I mean, I am super motivated, and I believe in myself and my skill set. And when you trust it, you are less afraid. We’re all in the same boat. If you put yourself under too much pressure, that is somewhat counterproductive.

I hope that this Corona madness stops or at least gets a little better. And we get back a bit of everyday normality. At least I wish that to everyone who’s sitting at home right now. 

In times like this and in general, my family has always been my greatest support. They mean a lot to me.
Because they are so far away, we often talk on the phone during the retouching. Without them, I might have given up in difficult times. They always believed in me and encouraged me on my way. This is the best present in life.


Last but not least, is there anything additional you would like to say right now?

One thing is still on my mind. I don’t like these days because of the shit storms on Instagram based on everything you’ve done or not done since Corona. This is not something that helps us right now. To reproach each other, with even more negative thoughts and discussions.
I’ve also been asked if I got any shit storms so far. Fortunately, not at the moment. For me, it was more like everyone just said: “Stay where you are and enjoy.” But I heard it from other people. 

I’m not the one who has to party all day long, but as I said, if you approach it with a human mind, you can have a good time, but you don’t have to overdo it.
Sure, there might be a few people who are probably not writing what’s going on in their minds. But people make up their minds, no matter what you do.


I hope you have learned a lot from Nina today. Now it is time to think about what makes you happy and healthy. We wish you personally all the best during this time.


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