Barbara Puchta: “I observe and hold what I see without interfering”
Our concern with Klick.Kind is to show you the different facets of family photography. Therefore, we are especially pleased to introduce you today to Barbara Puchta. Barbara is a documentary family photographer in Eckental near Nuremberg. In her photo reportages, she captures real moments full of emotions in the daily lives of her clients – without dress code, instructions and without any time pressure.
Dear Barbara! You are with body and soul documentary family photographer! Unfulfilled moments and real emotions. That sounds great. But also difficult and challenging. Could you describe your work as a reportage photographer a bit more? What can our readers imagine??
I accompany families over several hours up to a complete day in their normal everyday life and do without photographing on any kind of instruction, posing, putting away objects or setting in the right light and work with the natural conditions on site.
The goal of the reportage that emerges is to show families (and especially mothers) how beautiful their lives are, even if they often feel they are not good enough, not beautiful enough, not thin enough , the house is not tidy enough, etc. These reportages often have a therapeutic effect by showing families how they work outward and that there is always the beautiful outweighs, if of course the one or the other tear or one or the other Tantrum one or more children to everyday life of each family belong.
Have you always been a reportage photographer? How did you find your way to becoming a documentary family photographer??
I have always taken a lot of pictures and immediately after graduation I also had the idea of becoming a photographer. But somehow I first studied and photography remained a hobby, which I have operated more or less intensively over the years. When my oldest son was born, I got my first SLR camera as a present. Not digital at the time, and I took movie after movie. 9 years later, when my daughter was born, I bought my first digital SLR camera, followed by child number 3 and camera number 3 – coupled with the idea of finally turning my favorite hobby into my profession. So I am a true self-taught. In the meantime, however, I have also completed countless further education courses in the field of photography and in particular documentary photography, and I am still there, because in the field of photography in particular, one has never learned anything.
The documentary approach, which is also the basis of my wedding reports, is of particular importance to me, because I realized that these photos, where everything is polished to a high gloss, give me nothing. Somehow it all seemed so interchangeable to me and I felt that it was more about the look and the pretty accessories, as the people and their emotions. So I came to the more photojournalistic work in which I just document what I see. Actually, no matter what it is, be it a wedding, a birth, a newborn shoot or even a family reportage: I always go straight to work. I watch and hold what I see without interfering.
You choose to do the black-and-white editing of yours most often Pictures. Is there a specific reason for that? How would you like your style? describe?
Yes. If a picture is in black and white, you focus more on the moment and is not so distracted by the many colors. Therefore, the photographers, who above all want to show real moments – be they funny, sad, tender, bizarre or whatever, very often forego the color processing of a picture.
Do you have role models in documentary family photography??
Oh yes, I have some role models! Above all boxes Lewis Bethmann, an American family photojournalist, in which I have already done some mentoring. A fantastic teacher who taught me a lot. Otherwise, Sally Mann, Alain Laboile and Niki Boon – all of whom have documented or documented the life of their own family – would have been very inspiring.
How does a typical shoot go with you??
With the right family reports, called “day in the life sessions”, during which I am allowed to accompany the families for half or even a whole day, I try to learn as much as possible about the families in advance. At best, we meet in person for a preliminary talk, so we can each other already a little sniff and get to know each other. When I come to the photo shoot, we are not quite so strange. When I am there, I simply accompany the normal everyday life with my camera and go everywhere, where the family goes. Be it a sporting event, a trip, other things to do, weekend shopping, cuddling on the sofa, the evening bedtime routine or whatever. My camera and I are there and I try to capture what I see. The countless little tender gestures as well as the exhaustion, the joy, the laughter and the tantrums.
And as a customer, I still get a classic family portrait that grandma can place in the wall unit?
How well do you get to know the families on such a day? Do you still have contact with some customers? Can even make friends?
Oh yes, it can definitely create friendships. Because you get to know each other quite well when you spend a whole day together and the families always grow in my heart. Many families book me once a year or every two years and then after a while have a really nice family chronicle of their lives. Since then you are already a bit on the inventory and it may also be that you sometimes meet privately or by mail and whatsapp in contact.
Often the mothers, who in principle tend to self-mortify, are also very grateful when they see through my lens, what they do great and how much love they give and how much they are loved and yet everything is actually quite good, as it is. As I wrote above, the photos often have a real therapeutic effect. That’s the wonderful thing about this work, that it’s not just a classic service provider-client relationship, but that you really have a warm relationship with your customers and the feeling of doing something really meaningful.
Do you prefer to accompany the ordinary everyday life of a family or rather special events such as births, baptisms, birthdays and schooling?
My favorite thing is actually everyday life, followed directly by births that have their own charm. It’s just a miracle every time such a little human child sees the light of day and a huge honor for me when a family invites me to share that moment with her. And then every now and then a few tears of emotion come along.
In order to draw more attention to documentary family photography, together with your colleague Julia Rose-Greim, you have now founded the initiative “Noodles with ketchup”. Honestly, how does one get such a name? What is behind it?
We thought long and hard about which name we should choose and together with our colleague Julia Erz, who unfortunately left our team for personal reasons, brainstormed and we did not want to think of anything right. Much seemed too wooden or too cheesy, not enough or whatever. Julia then stumbled over “noodles with ketchup” while leafing through a magazine and jokingly threw it into the room. When we thought about it, we found that it hits the famous nail on the head, because that’s exactly what it’s about: Family life does not have to be pimped up for photos like pasta with some fancy sauce. What is at stake is the relationship between them and not the beautiful appearance. And if there are noodles with ketchup from time to time or fries instead of a 3-course meal and the family has spent more time together, then this is exactly the core of what we want to show: The perfect lies in the imperfect, be happy with what you have and enjoy your time together!
So far, there is a facebook page about “noodles with ketchup”. What do you see on the page? And what awaits us in the future with “noodles with ketchup”?
We founded the facebook page Pasta with Ketchup to push documentary family photography in German-speaking countries a bit. Unfortunately, unlike in the USA, it is still largely unknown here. Here we show our work and that of other photographers who already work documentary. Sooner or later, we also want to get our website ready, on which we will then create a directory of family docufotographers, so that interested customers can find out there and see which photographers in their vicinity offer documentary portraits. Furthermore, there will be blogging on a variety of topics, all aimed at showing how important it is to have photos of the real moments of family life, because time goes by way too fast and the only thing left is Memories that can be kept alive with photos. I think giving children a chronicle of their childhood in the form of albums for their 18th birthday is the most precious gift you can ever do.
There is also a facebook group “Pasta with Ketchup”, which is reserved for documentary family photographers.
Thank you for the detailed interview, Barbara!
If you liked Barbara’s pictures, you should click over to her website. Because there are a lot more wonderful family reports to see. And you have to take a closer look at the facebook page “Noodles with ketchup” and be sure to become a fan right away!
Barbara Puchta, October 2016
Interview: Carolin Bartel
Photos: Barbara Puchta
Cover photo of Barbara with family: Leni Moretti
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