Every photoshoot should be a bit demanding, and if it isn’t, it doesn’t excite me
Fee-Gloria Groenemeyer is a freelance fashion and portrait Photographer based in Berlin. She has a B. Cs. in Business Administration from the University of Mannheim and has also studied International Business at the New York University. Fee-Gloria speaks about the pressing issues that preoccupy her mind today, plastic pollution, and the rise of the authoritarian leaders.
‘No matter how much you try, you will probably get turned down more than not. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t good at what you do, but you just weren’t the right fit at the right time.’ The shoots are overwhelming with the intensity and the walking on the thin line between authenticity and high-fashion. We discuss planning in advance, carefully choosing the next location, the approach of building set around an extraordinary location, and being creative when things do not go as planned.
Read on and make sure to look for and enjoy the additional works. Fee Gloria has worked with clients as Chanel, Adidas, Montblanc, Temperley London, Victor & Rolf, Net-a-Porter and many others.
Hi Fee-Gloria, how is it going for you? Do you have any plans for the holidays?
Thanks so much. I am doing great, I am on my way to New York right now, for a shoot.
Since I don’t really make vacation plans, probably just going to see my family and childhood friends, which is always fun!
What is it that makes you pick up the camera and shoot a new story?
There isn’t really a specific trigger for me to pick up the camera,
I usually just get a feeling randomly or some crazy idea that I then want to realise. Sometimes it might also be a location that I’ve been to or seen somewhere that inspires me. It really depends, to be honest. Recently I had an idea for a new story, during a contemporary jazz concert, music also inspires me a lot.
What is your favorite dish? Can you cook it yourself?
I am a huge foodie. When I have the time and money, I try to go to experimental fusion restaurants that do something new and exciting with your typical dishes. My favourite restaurants are in Barcelona (Dos Palillos and Tickets). The way these places make food into art inspires me. I definitely want to shoot a story about food some time in the future! I do also cook myself and experiment with food. But my favourite dish is still a simple Italian Risotto Milanese.
Is there a social or environmental issue you deeply care about and would love to see it resolved in the near future, a Utopia in a way, as you see it?
I usually try to create awareness through my photos and talk about current issues in general. In my opinion one of the biggest problems we are facing today and in the near future is plastic. In Western countries, we are already trying to do a lot more regarding pollution. But I think where most work needs to be done is in developing countries. I travel to Asia a lot and see how plastic bags are still being used even for the smallest purchases. This is where we should try to build more awareness.
Another issue that troubles me is the rise of authoritarian leaders around the world. The biggest countries now all have some sort of extreme leadership (China, Brazil, US). I think we have to shine a light on what is happening there and try to prevent other countries from falling in the same trap. People often forget that we live in a globalised world where every decision made by a large economy affects, not just other economies, but also the lives of individuals, your life.
Would you say that the mood that comes to life in your works resembles your inner feeling of that day or is a carefully planned and methodologically shot scene?
I think it is a mix between the two. When I come up with a new idea for a shoot I do a lot of research about the topic first, then I start putting together a moodboard and storyboard. Usually, I try to plan as much as possible in advance, such as picking the ideal location, styling (which I often do myself), etc. But on the day of the shoot I often just come up with new ideas and try to incorporate them into the story. These ideas are often created in the moment and are usually some kind of feeling I get.
"In my opinion one of the biggest problems we are facing today and in the near future is plastic. In Western countries, we are already trying to do a lot more regarding pollution. But I think where most work needs to be done is in developing countries".
Paris, Berlin, or New York?
I have been very lucky to have lived in all 3 cities.
Paris was a great place for me to learn about the industry and get a grip, but I always felt like there wasn’t much room to be yourself because of the large influence of the big players in the business there. At some point, I just needed to get out and find myself.
New York is a city I love, but it has changed a lot recently and has become more of a commercial hub for the fashion industry rather than a truly creative place. I go back a lot though for jobs but couldn’t live there anymore. It’s too hectic for me, and you always feel like you need to rush projects. I just like to have more freedom and time to make my ideas come alive.
Currently, live in Berlin, and right now this is also my favourite city to be in. The creative energy there is very special, and people always want to expand their knowledge and collaborate on new projects, which I appreciate a lot in this competitive industry.
What helps you refill the daily energies used and open your mind to new ideas?
I try to give myself one day a week where I don’t work on anything photo/project related, which really helps to free my mind for new ideas.
It really depends on the day though. Sometimes I like to just sit at home and watch movies that I didn’t have time to see before or I go to exhibitions and museums. Food is a great inspiration to me, as well, and it doesn’t just feed me but also my soul.
You have worked in cities like Minsk and Vilnius in Eastern Europe. How does choosing a location for the shoot affects the final product and the emotions you choose to convey?
The location of a shoot is essential to me, I sometimes even chose the location as the main inspiration for the shoot which is how I created the stories I shot in Vilnius and Minsk. I wanted to shoot an editorial that represented these cities and their culture from my point of view taking into account everything that I had seen and learned during my time there.
What is the utmost important personal characteristic a photographer needs to have or develop to succeed in the fashion industry?
Perseverance! No matter how much you try, you will probably get turned down more than not. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t good at what you do, but you just weren’t the right fit at the right time. A lot of people get discouraged by this, but you need to learn to stick with your gut and go on until you find your style and trust yourself. This is very difficult, but it will definitely pay off.
What was the most demanding photoshoot you have been a part of? How did you overcome the difficulties?
I think every photoshoot should be a bit demanding, and if it isn’t, it doesn’t excite me. I want to learn with every shoot, and you can only do that if you do something new, something that pushes you to your limits and beyond. If there are difficulties I usually try to brainstorm with the team and try to find the next best solution, sometimes this even makes a better story than what I had imagined before.
Though one of my toughest shoots was when I shot for Adidas in London, I only had 10 minutes per shot between set changes and needed to adjust the whole light set up within those 10 minutes. And of course one of my lights broke down halfway, but we stayed calm and managed somehow by using more reflectors.
One of the additional aspects or extensions of and to your profession is developing artwork. Tell about the project Kulør.
Courtesy, the founder of the label, is someone whom I worked with quite a lot before we started this project together. One day she asked me to have lunch with her. We started talking about her new label and just threw ideas at each other until we came up with the concept. It was the first time I did a still life shoot, and it was very challenging. But I am extremely happy with the outcome, and it is great to see that we have been able to create so much emotion with just glass objects and water. I think for any artwork it is important to collaborate intensely and understand what the artist wants to express and that’s what I love about it.
What are your plans for the 2019 or the New Year’s Resolution?
In general, I don’t make resolutions. I try to just take every day as it comes and make something of it. But I can say that there are some interesting projects already planned for the next year, and I cannot wait to make them happen!