Digital FeaturesUnderwater LoveMarie Hochhaus
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Marie Hochhaus


PHOTOGRAPHY Marie Hochhaus STYLING Nina Petters @ Ballsaal STYLING ASSISTANCE Simon Riepe HAIR & MAKEUP Francesca Vigliarolo @ Bigoudi Casting Nico Werner PHOTO ASSISTANCE Gertje König MODEL Soeki Gravenhorst @ Paparazzi Model Management CAMERA Leica SL with Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–90 f/2.8–4 ASPH.

For ‘Underwater Love’, Marie Hochhaus immersed herself in the watery element. Working with Paparazzi model Soeki Gravenhorst, she produced an impressive and melancholic series with artistically interesting and unusual perspectives.

You hadn’t been taking any pictures for a year. Now you’re starting again. What happened? Have you entered into a process of rediscovery?
It’s true. This year I didn’t even photograph one series of my own; I only worked on commissions. I simply needed a re-set as far as photography is concerned. In the previous years I had worked very intensely on my portfolio. At some point I just couldn’t see anything any longer. The constant visual exposure through instagram, the masses of good picture material that’s posted on the internet every day, the constant comparisons and being compared – I felt that I was in urgent need of distancing myself from my work and from the field, so that I could discover what I’m really interested in at the moment.

On this occasion you chose an underwater theme for the S magazine. What’s the story about?
First of all, for me the appeal to do the photo shoot was a technical one. I quite simply wanted to try out what it would be like to photograph under water.

It was pretty cold outside when you were doing the underwater shoot. Was this production a serious challenge for the team?
It was one of the most exhausting photo shoots I’ve ever done. Physically it was a major challenge for both myself and the model. The pool was covered and it was heated, but even so, after a couple of minutes, it was really cold in the water. Soeki was shivering so much after the very first motif; every time we had to make a great physical and psychological effort to overcome the reluctance to go back into the water. I’m still very impressed by Soeki. She was so patient and brave, and she didn’t let her discomfort show. However, the flow is obviously not optimal when the model is, in fact, suffering. In my role as a photographer, I have a lot of empathy and I always try to create situations where the model feels comfortable. Because I was unable to do a test run before the photo shoot, there were some technical things that didn’t work right from the beginning. René and Radka had given me a few tips beforehand – once again, thanks very much for that. As it happened, I literally jumped straight into the cold water on the first day of the photo shoot. After a few hours I simply had to reorganise things because it was simply too icy cold.   We turned on the hot shower and took a few portraits as well.

The resulting picture series is great. Was it difficult to capture the special moments?
The cold alone made it a relatively stressful shooting situation, because I wanted to do it as quickly as possible for Soeki’s sake. In addition, unfortunately the lighting plan didn’t work at all. I wanted to photograph with indirect lighting. We had various lamps and spotlights. First of all, it was quite tricky to position the lamps in the limited space so that they wouldn’t fall in the water by mistake and electrocute us. Next the pool itself was not illuminated from within, and the water swallowed up so much light so that the camera’s auto-focus didn’t function. All in all, the experiment was pretty bumpy. I had to rearrange things spontaneously and, in the end I photographed into the water from outside. I learnt so much on that day, and I definitely want to do another underwater shoot. I find the forms resulting from the weightlessness are, quite simply, fascinating.

You always look for a special face for your stories. What did you look for this time and what was special about it?
Nico Werner was in charge of the casting. Of course, it was important that the girl could swim and wasn’t allergic to chlorine or anything like that. We immediately fell in love with Soeki, because she has such a strong presence.

What other photographers or artists inspire you? Are there any in fact?
There are definitely photographers and artists whose work I appreciate. Even so, I must admit that I am increasingly inspired by instagram, where the individual artists tend to become one with the large mass of people that I follow or that instagram suggests to me.

Can you tell us about any new projects or ideas you have in mind at the moment?
Unfortunately, I have to be a bit secretive about that because I never think it’s a good idea to speak too much about a project that is still in the inception phase. For sure, it has done me good to take a break for a year, and I’ve once again got a feeling to follow my muse. It will be rather different to what people know of me, that much I can admit. It will have nothing to do with either girls or fashion.