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“Barbara Schmidt: Trust Your Own Vision”, by Gina Williams

As a child, German photographer Barbara Schmidt dreamed of being an architect.

She explains on our Zoom call that at the time, such a path wasn’t allowed – could not even be discussed.

“It wasn’t possible to even consider such a thing, given the requirements of German society that put me on a specific career track,” she explains.

Schmidt went on to study law and administrative sciences. She retired in 2015 after more than 40 years as a civil servant.

“Andenbahn”/ © Barbara Schmidt

Thanks to her decision to explore photography a few years before retirement, her love of architecture finally came full circle, and she is now known internationally as an accomplished photographer with architectural shots among her most highly recognized work.

“I just have this passion for architecture,” Schmidt says. “I have a love of lines and structure, and deep respect for the creator’s vision—it doesn’t have to make sense. It’s a deep, deep feeling. It always starts with lines. They attract me magically.”

Schmidt adds that she typically notices lines and patterns in a scene “before I even look through the camera.”

“Auriel”/ © Barbara Schmidt

A love of nature and landscapes also fuels her passion for making images, but during her first time visiting Kenya and Tanzania, she came close to making no images at all.

Just two days before a three-week safari, she bought a Panasonic Lumix camera. At the time, she didn’t realize that images could be removed from the camera and saved on a computer. She didn’t have a computer. After each outing, she would delete images from the camera card to get ready for the next day’s excitement. Someone in the group asked her what she was doing and advised her to stop deleting photos. One of the saved shots is of a sunset in Kenya recently displayed in a large-format outdoor exhibition as part of Image Sans Frontiere in May.

“Die Perle”/ © Barbara Schmidt

Of course Schmidt now knows to transfer images from the camera card to another device before deleting them, but she is still a minimalist at heart. She says she rarely does any post-processing.

Over time, through meeting other photographers, joining clubs and even starting a now-renowned club of her own in Germany, she has joined the ranks of the world’s top photographers.

“Fast Dry”/ © Barbara Schmidt

She’s also learned to embrace her own style and trust her intuition when it comes to being bold and confident in a practice still dominated by men and certainly not untouched by ego.

“Sometimes an image truly is brilliant, but above all, trust your feelings. YOU know what is a good image.”

“Godafoss”/ © Barbara Schmidt
“Spiral”/ © Barbara Schmidt

Tips & Tricks from Barbara Schmidt

  • Slow down! Go to a place you enjoy and spend hours there, photographing every detail.
  • Take the shot. If you don’t push the button, you have no image.
  • Notice. Practice awareness. Look for light, lines, structure, patterns.
  • Don’t make images to win contests but go ahead and enter contests for fun and satisfaction. Why not?
  • Let go of ego, while also letting go of shyness. Talk to other photographers. Share your work. Have fun.
  • Female photographers: persist! If you love photography, allow yourself the time and money to learn and buy the best gear you can afford.
  • Consider your passion. It’s not important what others are doing. Follow your own intention and personal interests without apology. If you like it, do it!
“Stockholm City”/ © Barbara Schmidt
Barbara Schmidt

BARBARA SCHMIDT
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gina Williams is a Portland, Oregon USA based journalist and poet. She covers photography and photographers internationally. Learn more about her and her work at GinaMarieWilliams.com and follow her on Instagram at @gina_williams_writes


FRAMES Magazine
Every year we release four quarterly printed editions of FRAMES Magazine. Each issue contains 112 pages printed on the highest quality 140g uncoated paper. You receive the magazine delivered straight to your doorstep. We feature both established and emerging photographers of different genres. We pay very close attention to new, visually striking, thought-provoking imagery, while respecting the long-lasting tradition of photography in its purest incarnation.
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