Olivia Frølich – In search for the special moment
Olivia Frølich is a photographer from Copenhagen, Denmark. After starting her working life as an actress first, she fell in love with photography and studied at the Internattional Center of Photography in New York and at Fatamorgana, the Danish School of Photography.
After assisting several photographers for a couple of years, she now works on her own for clients such as Danish Elle, Vs. Magazine, Ganni and Kokoon. We had the pleasure to talk to her about her work, her roots and her inspirations.
You worked as an assistant for different photographers for a while. Which one of them influenced you most?
Well, the most special thing for me was that all of these individual photographers showed me something very different. It was great to work with such unique artists every day. It was a hard job, a fun job and I loved it. Spending time with such talented, creative and business minded people was a very informative and meaningful experience.
You once mentioned Helmut Newton as one of your main inspirations. He used to set up the women in his photographs in a very powerful and strong way, which also offended many people at that time. On the other hand your models seem to be more vulnerable and softer. Where do you see the similarities and differences in terms of the perception of women?
To me, when a photo is good, it is often capturing a special moment between the subject and the image-maker. I think it takes a lot of courage to really give yourself to the moment: it is about trust, letting go and having fun.
We see the world through the photographer’s eyes, their point of view of the model or the actress. To be inspired by a person, a photographer, does not necessarily mean that I want to take the same pictures as them. Often it’s my engaging with or my interpretation of their work that awakens something in me. I find great inspiration in many things; experiences, people, fear and love, so I think that the similarity is, that we share the love and desire to create pictures of women and show their beauty. And our differences? Oh, they are endless probably.
You started your professional creative career as an actress, which also was your dream job when you grew up. How does your experience as an actress influence the way you’re working and interacting with your models? Do you think that your background as an actress affects your work as a photographer in other ways also?
I have to say that my background as an actress is very limited, but I met some very intelligent and inspiring people in that time and had some very meaningful conversations in a period when I was very young and impressed by these circumstances.
But the art of depicting emotion and feeling – whether in front of the lens or behind – many people who are working with something creative often try out different ways of expression before they find the right path.
Moving pictures are becoming more and more important in photography in general or rather photography and filming are merging more and more. You also did some fashion films in the past. What do you think about this trend? Will you focus more on filming in the future?
For me the moving image is and has always been very appealing. It is something which I would still like to explore much more.
In an interview on wunderbuzz you said, “I think my style is Scandinavian because of my culture.” How would you describe this “Scandinavian” influence in terms of lighting, composing and setting up your images?
Again, to me creating pictures can be a very intimate thing and shows a lot about myself as a person. The way you set up the camera is the “language” you speak as a photographer and of course it is influenced by where I grew up, where I live my life, what interests me or influences me.
To my surprise you’re not trying to find inspiration in magazines. Are you afraid of “unconsciously” copying another ones style or ideas? What else besides magazines inspires you and what kind of role do (fashion) magazines play for you?
I collected almost all issues of the French Vogue of the last 10 years and many other magazines. I love to flick through them but they are not my main source for inspiration when I am preparing a shoot. I gain most inspiration from film and music. I love to go to the movies and to disappear completely in the darkness of the theatre.
Like most people who are aware of their surroundings I’m inspired in many ways. Sometimes I struggle with being shown a photo-story that people want me to be inspired by but, of course, we have to communicate visual ideas in some way and sometimes it’s faster or easier to do this with pictures that already exist.
But even if I use a moodboard to explain a concept, the resulting picture is never a remake but always something new; inspired by many things, seen through new eyes.
You’ll turn 30 years next year. Let’s take a glance back in the past. What would the 15-year-old Olivia think about herself today? Is she the person she wanted to become once ago? Would she be proud of her? Which advice would you give the younger Olivia?
Yes, I can’t wait! I wonder if it will change my mentality in some way. Many have told me that whether you want it or not you’ll go through a transition somehow.
I don’t know what I would think about the ‘grown up me’. It’s a good question. When you live your life, you’ll follow a path, which you don’t know and can’t plan in advance. Not knowing how it would have turned if you would have chosen differently. I’m very happy with all my hard work, fun, tears and love that I have gone through so far.
“There are no reasons for my photographs, nor any rules; all depends on the mood of the moment, on the mood of the model” a quote by French photographer Jeanloup Sieff. What do you think about this approach and how much does it match the way you’re working?
I love it. I love intuition and think it can make a moment very, very special and unique.
Are there any upcoming projects or plans for the future, we could tell our readers about?
Finally, please complete the following sentences:
- I often ask myself … far to many questions about everything.
- Ouch, it’s hurts, when … your heart breaks and when you’re not happy with the retouch of work, seeing it after it has been printed and published.
- If I had only one last picture to take … that’s a very uncomfortable question. It makes me think of death.
- Copenhagen … is the place where I live my life for the moment, my home, a place where I have a good time with my friends and family.
- Please, never ask me to … take my last picture.
Olivia, thanks a lot for this amazing interview and all the best for the future!
All images © Olivia Frølich