interview

An eye for Amazons

Katia WIK | Photography

RIDE by Katia WIK
RIDE by Katia WIK
Independent, strong and yet sensual: whenever Katia Wik stages female models in front of her camera, she does so consciously and always from a woman's perspective. We talked to the Berlin-based photographer and director about equality on-set, healthy stage fright and her passion for daydreams.

Interview: Katharina de Silva

Katia Wik discovered her talent at a young age in a female friend’s attic in a Bavarian suburb: using bulky waste and old furniture, she would build complex sets and re-enact TV series such The A-Team and The Black Forest Clinic. “Even as a child, I enjoyed slipping into a role and giving other people a role, too,” she recalls. By the time she was in her teens, she knew she wanted to become a fashion photographer. Katia Wik studied design in Nuremberg, majoring in film and photography, and moved to Berlin while still a student. She did various jobs at agencies and post-production companies and as a studio and photo assistant before becoming a freelance photographer in 2010. These days, Katia Wik has a successful career working for international fashion magazines, and most of her clients are in the beauty and fashion sector.
Katia Wik
Katia Wik
Good morning, Katia! Did you sleep well?
 
Yes, thanks! But I didn’t dream at all – at least not as far as I can recall. Actually, I usually dream a lot. I’m a bit of a daydreamer, too. I make up entire short films and beam myself into other worlds.
 
Talking of dreams, what is a real nightmare for you on set?
 
Definitely bad vibes. If there's a negative mood hovering over the team on set, I absolutely hate that.
 
Would you say you thrive on harmony?
 
Absolutely. I don’t just like a certain harmony in visual terms – I need a fair amount of it on a human level as well. 
 
Do you get excited before big shoots? 
 
Yes, totally. I’m incredibly prone to stage fright, but that’s OK. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping, especially in the preparation phase when lots of things are still vague. Then I can hardly wait until the shoot is finally under way, all the tension melts away and I'm in my element at last.

How do you prepare?
 
I spend a lot of time on the design, scribble out my picture ideas beforehand and develop storyboards. I plan everything as much as possible, but always have plans B and C up my sleeve so I can respond flexibly on the day of the shoot. 
Katia Wik for VOGUE Portugal
Katia Wik for VOGUE Portugal
Katia Wik for VOGUE Portugal
Katia Wik for VOGUE Portugal
Katia Wik for VOGUE Portugal
Katia Wik for VOGUE Portugal
Katia Wik for ZOO Magazine
Katia Wik for ZOO Magazine
Katia Wik for Kaviar Gauche
Katia Wik for Kaviar Gauche
Katia Wik for Faces Magazine
Katia Wik for Faces Magazine
Katia Wik for Faces Magazine
Katia Wik for Faces Magazine
Katia Wik for Faces Magazine
Katia Wik for Faces Magazine
Katia Wik for ZOO Magazine
Katia Wik for ZOO Magazine
Katia Wik for Prestige Magazine
Katia Wik for Prestige Magazine
Katia Wik for Prestige Magazine
Katia Wik for Prestige Magazine
For your beauty and fashion pictures, you usually photograph female models: is that by chance or deliberate?
 
It’s usually deliberate, but there’s no profound reason behind it. I just find women the better-looking sex. Female energy somehow inspires me more …
 
Professional photography is still pretty much a male domain. Why do you think that is?
 
I think quite a lot has happened in recent years. I see more and more campaigns and editorials shot by great women. From a sociological perspective, there's still room for improvement, of course – emancipation and childcare spring to mind. But that’s true of many careers. Apart from that, I’m delighted that there’s so much interest in female visions now. And I have high hopes for the next generations of female photographers who have grown up with even greater equality and more self-confidence.
 
Do you believe that women approach jobs and tasks in a fundamentally different way from men?
 
I think that's more a matter of character than of gender. I tend to work intuitively and instinctively and am very perceptive, which may be down to being a woman. At least that sets me apart from someone who hogs the limelight (laughs).
 
The women in your pictures look very feminine and sensuous to me. What image of women do you aim to convey? 
 
I don’t actually think that I portray women in a particularly sensual way, but more as strong and independent. Of course, they also have something sensual about them, but they are free enough to show that. If you look at my motorbike or car series, for instance, these women are somewhat Amazonian. I would say I portray my models the way a woman might want to be herself: a hot, emancipated Amazon on a motorbike – who wouldn’t want to be like that? (Laughs).
 
What do you pay attention to during casting: what matters most to you?
 
I brief the casting agent or the agency on my vision of the photos beforehand. So the suggestions often go in the right direction. Then, I make my choice very intuitively and instinctively – and I'm usually on the right track. To me, the whole thing is a bit like falling in love. It just has to “click”.
Choosing the models in casting can be a bit like having a crush. It just has to click.

Katia WIK | Photography

You do a lot of shoots for magazines like ZOO or VOGUE Portugal. What attracts you to editorial photography?

 

I love it if I'm involved in the creative process from the outset. For instance, in casting, in putting the team together, the design and the location scouting. Obviously, there’s lots of scope for that in an editorial project. Ideally, it’s my own concept that is implemented. 

 

Why did you focus on fashion and beauty? What captivates you about this?

I love giving people a role, putting them in an imaginary setting and then looking for exciting shapes. I also have a penchant for close-ups and details. In the end, it's the perfect combination of styling, set design, hair & make-up and image composition that excites me - it's almost a bit orchestra-like.

 

What is your most important job to date? 

 

To me, the job coming up is always the most important one. I give it my full attention. When I look back, the jobs where I took something fundamental away with me are particularly significant. GUERLAIN, for example, was groundbreaking. That’s when I combined photo and video as equal elements for the first time and found a common language, both conceptually and visually.

 

You're also a director. What can video express that photography might not be able to get across? 

Video has the possibility of a linguistic level with which you can make a statement in a more specific way. Ideally, a musical element triggers the emotional part of the brain. Music makes a huge difference… I sometimes miss that in a photo.

 

Thank you for talking to us, Katia!

Katia Wik for ZOO Magazine
Katia Wik for ZOO Magazine

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