German visual artist Gundula Blumi has a knack for making the simple and natural more magical through fantastic photographic techniques. An advocate of analogue photography, Gundula has a special skill for using specific elements such as water, light, prismatic glass, and color to adorn dark nights and low-light horizons with mesmerizing colors.
Hi Gundula! Welcome to Lomography Magazine. Could you tell us how you got into film photography? Do you remember the first image you took with a film camera?
Thank you so much for your invitation. I started taking photographs on film when I was a child. My first camera was a Canon Prima and I loved it. I always had it with me, and took photos from my child world and later from my teenage world. But I took my very first images with the camera of my mother. I was a very young child, and she lent me her camera. I was allowed to shoot ten pictures. I still remember the tingly excited feeling that I had when I was allowed to choose the motifs. I think I loved this kind of control. Those first images showed my children’s room.
You shoot a lot of skyscapes. Tell us, what draws you to this type of landscape photography?
Maybe my images are an escape into the wideness. I’m always searching for broad horizons when I’m outside with my camera. I often feel limited and hemmed by the seeming “normality” of everyday life, which sometimes feels like a corset that doesn’t fit. I can breathe again when my eyes look into the distance. Then the eyes can relax and thus also the whole organism. When I’m stressed and overstimulated, photography is my way of processing and at the same time relaxing. I need the solitude and the wideness to draw new energy. Furthermore, I grew up in northern Germany near the North Sea where the country is flat and the horizons wide, so maybe that’s also a reason why I look for such places.
These gorgeous images are taken in low light, and splashed with vivid colors. It’s a beautiful aesthetic! What made you craft this unique style?
I like the dreamy effects of the playing lights. I never know exactly how the rainbow light will distribute on the film and which meaning it will take on. The light effects become meaningful when they connect with the motif and that’s the aesthetic for me: the combination of two images that have emerged independently of each other, but unite in the picture. I love that!
Can you tell us how you craft this aesthetic, in case some of our readers would like to take inspiration from your style?
I use normal Kodak or Agfa Vista films, which I prepare with special lights. My camera is an old Leica camera from my grandfather. I do not really deal with camera technique that much, I just do it. I think the mystery of this aesthetic is the desire for experimenting and the pleasure of being surprised. I regularly discover things which I use for special effects.
It’s important to think without limits, everything should be possible. Mostly I work with an idea or an emotion, but without any fixed plan. So I just look at what happens and then I work with the result. And if you experiment for a long time, your own style develops automatically
As a film photographer, what’s the most important element for you when composing an image?
It’s a feeling. It’s the certainty that in a moment, everything feels right and clear, a moment when everything fits. When I shoot film, I take pictures much more consciously than I would with a digital camera. I choose a motif that expresses what I want to express. My inner reality and the motif in the camera must be congruent, so to say. And I often choose motifs with free space for the unforeseen, like the light effects which get their own meaning in the motif.
If you could spend some time with any photographer or artist, dead, alive or fictional, who would it be?
Hef Prentice seems to be a very interesting person to me. Her shootings look so aesthetic, everything is so beautifully arranged, very stylish and with a very special atmosphere. I would love to meet her during such a shooting.
What’s a day in the life of Gundula Blumi like?
Currently, my days are very quiet because I am recovering from a very exhausting time. I try to sleep and relax as much as I can. I take a lot of walks through nature, and I also meditate. I am gathering strength and energies for new projects.
Do you have any on-going projects or plans that you’re keen to start working on?
I would like to do more shootings with people. That’s a plan and at the same time a challenge for me, maybe even a kind of life task, because I’m so interested in people and new encounters, and yet at the same time I only want to escape into solitude.