Based in Cologne, Germany although born in Perm, Russia, Snezhana von Büdingen’s photography fulfils her need to tell the stories of others. “My ideas for projects always come from chance encounters with people,” she tells It’s Nice That, “It’s from a fascination with these people that a project develops – people that are different, think differently, and have different views on life.”
During her career as a photographer her subjects have ranged from twins to arctic swimmers but since October 2017, it’s 19-year-old Sofie who has been her focus. Born into a German family in Denmark, Sofie has down syndrome and since completing school spends much of her time on the small farm in east Germany where she and her family now live. “She enjoys being alone as well as with the few people with whom she can build a close relationship,” Snezhana explains, “I think I belong to these people in a way. By visiting her and her family so often, we’ve become friends.”
It’s the multiplicity of photography which provides such a draw for Snezhana. “Photography as a medium has always fascinated me. It allows me to be a director, journalist and painter all at once,” she remarks. “There is a symbiosis of creative media that occurs in photography.”
The images in Meeting Sofie are nothing short of striking. Shot at Sofie’s family’s farm, Snezhana’s observations of light coupled with the dramatic and beautiful setting provide an almost filmic quality to the photographs. “Sofie’s father is an antique dealer and they live on a very old farm,” Snezhana explains, “the whole house is filled with antiques and the family is passionate about them.” With the paint flecked walls and lofty ceilings, it’s surprising to hear that “none of the photos were staged as far as location is concerned”.
Throughout Meeting Sofie, she appears alongside her parents, her brother, her boyfriend Andy and her friend Lina. The series features an honest intimacy because of this and, although Snezhana hasn’t imposed or constructed any narrative, the images portray the photographer’s own strengthening relationship with each of her subjects.
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