Life & Culture

Go with the flow

Go with the flow

Berlin based photographer Zara R. reminds us to just enjoy the journey.

Interview by Chad Balkum

Berlin based photographer Zara R. reminds us to just enjoy the journey.

Let’s start things off by introducing yourself & sharing a little about what you do

I'm Zara, 24, I’m born and raised in Berlin.  I'm currently a student studying international business management but it's my last semester. On the side, I’m a photographer and  learning how to DJ.

I didn’t realize that you’re in school studying International Business, what are your plans with that once you graduate?

Honestly, I don’t know yet.  I went to school because I didn't really know what else to do with my life & with a degree in International Business I can work in almost any field. I guess it's just nice to have a degree. Photography is something that started as a hobby and now I'm getting more consistent  jobs.

I’m really just going with the flow and kind of winging it. I started taking photographs three years ago on a trip to Trinidad & Tobago & shortly after that began  taking photos of my friends. Now that I have more visibility with instagram people have started to reach out to me to take photos at parties. This year I even got to go to Berlin Fashion Week to shoot behind the scenes which was nice. I would love to have a small exhibition at the end of the year though.

How did you get the opportunity to shoot BTS during Berlin fashion week & what was the overall experience like?

An upcoming videographer/photographer texted me via Instagram if I want to assist him with taking BTS pictures at the Berlin fashion week for MAC cosmetics. I didn’t know him before but he somehow found my Instagram page. For me, it was pretty chill cause I only assisted with recording and taking some pictures of the models. We were 3 photographers in total. Overall, it was a good and relaxed atmosphere onset and a good experience because it is a nice reference for my portfolio.

Do you see yourself leaving Berlin after you graduate?

I don't know. That's a hard question because I think I'm gonna do my masters and I was thinking about doing it in Berlin but then I wouldn’t mind doing a year abroad again or even  just completely moving abroad. If I end up staying in Germany, I'm definitely going to stay in Berlin.

About half a year ago I moved into a nice flat with a friend of mine. So I'm also just really comfortable right now & of course like my family is in Germany. I think Berlin is pretty chill, especially if I compare it to Paris, New York or London. Berlin is also pretty spacious compared to other major cities so you can have so many different realities, depending on where you live.

What's the general living experience in Berlin for young creatives like you and your friends?

Everybody needs a side hustle  to survive. Literally, the majority of my friends can't live off of what they're doing creatively yet. So they're doing a bunch of other things on the side, then I guess that's everywhere. Honestly, it's all about connections. For example, one of my friends studied politics & on the side, just for fun, she did videography projects with her friends then posted them on Instagram. Eventually companies like Nike and Zalando found her and  started hiring her.  Now she makes good money from it but it's in large part because we had a friend that was working for Nike.

So yeah, I definitely think connections are super important. You of course need to have some kind of talent but I think they're a lot of talented people out here who don't get as many opportunities.

What do you feel is lacking in Berlin, specifically for up & coming creatives?

Probably mentorship opportunities or funds that we can apply to. Mainly because I feel that's not really easily accessible for individuals. So that would be nice, access to more money basically, resources & skills. More places such as Pirate studios for example.

I don’t see a lot of advertising for those types of creative focused things in Berlin, unless it's for something like language classes.

So if there was a creative aspect of your life that you had the opportunity to gain more experience and progress in, what would it be?

Well since I currently only use point and shoot cameras I would like to learn more about shooting with digital cameras as well as maybe look into learning about photojournalism. I went to the London carnival two years ago & asked strangers if I could take their pictures which I don't normally do when I'm in Berlin.

Looking back on that experience at the London carnival I wish I took the time to get to learn more about each of the people I photographed instead of just having these images of them.

I've definitely had times when I’ve taken a photo somewhere and then later look back like damn it would've been nice to have gotten to know more about that person.

I was talking about this same topic today in a university class, how you never really take in what you're doing right now & are always striving for something better. Like getting more money or just doing more in general. So you never really value what you have right now.