Anna Försterling Transforms Bodies into Minimalist Forms

Anna Försterling’s images stand out from the nude photos we are used to seeing. Her female eyes do not look at bodies as sexual objects, but rather as moving sculptures. Her use of film adds something sensitive and truthful to her work.
Here she tells us about her practice of photography, her relationship to light, and her vision of the female body…

Hello Anna, can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m Anna and I’m an analogue portrait photographer from Germany. I love to capture the pureness of bodies, skin details, authentic face portraits and aesthetic nude portraits.

“When I started photography, all I thought I had to do was create “beautiful” images. “

©Anna Försterling

How did your passion for photography begin?

When I started photography, all I thought I had to do was create “beautiful” images.
At the time, I think it was in 2011, I was a photographer in very different fields. I was interested in wildlife and landscape photography, especially small insects that I wanted to reproduce on a large scale.
But with my 18-55mm lens that my mother had given me in addition to the Canon EOS 400D, I quickly reached the limits of my wish. That’s how my passion for photography began.

©Anna Försterling

I was busy with photo technology and bought a better digital camera and my first macro lens.
And it was from this passion that the desire to dedicate myself to photography was born – I wanted to photograph full-time! That’s how I applied for a training as a photographer in a photo laboratory in Dresden. I was captivated.

And how did I get into portrait and nude photography? At the beginning of my training, I never thought it would be one of my specialties. My interest in wanting to represent people became a reality, only through film photography during a training in education.

©Anna Försterling

“I want my images to be timeless and purist.”

I liked this kind of photography from the beginning, and when I saw portraits taken on film, I thought I HAD to do it. I looked at a lot of film pictures and started experimenting.

I asked on forums of photo enthusiasts who would like to pose for me, and I still operate in the same way today.
I would like to try something new, depict the soul, create shapes and somehow try to subjugate the viewer for more than a few seconds.

©Anna Försterling

How would you define your photographic style?

I want my images to be timeless and purist. It is important to me that the essential and the natural come first. I like to shape the body with light and integrate it into the scene.

“[…]I like to reduce everything to the essential. “

©Anna Försterling

Your main subjects are young women. How do women inspire you?

The shapes of the female body are simply beautiful. In my pictures, the natural and a certain trace of minimalism are very important to me, I like to reduce everything to the essential.
I like the interplay of different shapes, many optics and objects in the rooms harmonize perfectly with the female body. I also like pure skin as a medium, because it cannot be reduced any further in a minimalist way. It’s just the original whole.

©Anna Försterling

However, I would like to say that I also photograph men. Or at least I’d like to photograph more of them.
Unfortunately, it is often a little difficult for men to be on the same page, I am talking here mainly about a sensitive representation. Generally men want to present themselves as strong and confident and less as sensitive and thoughtful.

“I want to move away from sexualization towards abstraction and form.”

©Anna Försterling

You work with natural light, which gives a very pictorial aspect to your images. Is painting part of your inspiration?

No, not really. My lighting is often influenced by classical photography, as I learned in school. However, this lighting is based on classical paintings and painters; it is not for nothing that one of the types of lighting is called Rembrandt Light.
It’s the other way around with me, I like to draw and study the lighting of photographs.

©Anna Försterling

What do you wish to communicate through your images?

I think it’s important to show people that the body is something beautiful and that you can stage it very differently. I want to move away from sexualization towards abstraction and form.

“The person in front of the camera must not be afraid of you or the camera.”

You have taken a lot of nude pictures. Is the creative process and the way you communicate with your model very different from when you photograph your models dressed?

No, actually, there are no differences. The most important thing is mutual trust. The person in front of the camera must not be afraid of you or the camera. There has to be a relaxed atmosphere, then it doesn’t matter if the person you want to photograph is dressed or naked.

©Anna Försterling

“I also think it is important not to rest on your technique or to think that you can make better pictures with a better technique.”

What advice would you give to young photographers ?

Don’t be discouraged by too much technology or great portfolios – on the contrary, it should be a boost! At first, it is difficult to find models for your own projects without a portfolio. But you should not be shy or discouraged by refusals.

©Anna Försterling

I also think it is important not to rest on your technique or to think that you can make better pictures with a better technique. It’s bullshit, it’s just an excuse. An image lives from its pictorial content, its conception and its idea. And it’s all in the photographer’s eye.

“[…] I would like to unite several bodies into a single image.”

Do you have any ongoing projects you can tell us about?

This year, I would like to devote more time to nude artistic photography. Above all, I would like to unite several bodies into a single image. That’s all I want to say. 😉

You can find Anna’s work on her website, and follow her on Instagram