Sandra Röken – The Photographer’s Interview
Exquisite colour, excellent composition, and perfectly detailed textures. These are the words that I use to describe Sandra Röken’s photographic artworks.
From beautiful towns in Italy, characterful boats in the harbour, and at sea; adeptly composed shots of Amsterdam canal, Prague and London, and detailed artworks depicting fallen leaves and lone trees and more, Sandra’s flair for creating meticulous art from a photograph, is wholly evident. Her manipulation of the photographic medium has created a textural depth to the images and richness of colour that is both captivating and unique.
Sandra has created postcards for refugee children in Syria and has had her work exhibited in Germany, Poland and London.
You can buy Sandra’s work on her Artfinder website: https://www.artfinder.com/sandra-roeken#/
Sandra is also on Facebook
Please talk a bit about where you grew up and where you live now?
I grew up with my grandparents in the Ruhr Area in Germany until I was 12 years old. The following 6 years I lived with my parents. When I was 18 I started to live my own life in my first small apartment trying to find happiness.
In 1997, when I was 32, I moved with my husband and my 8 months old son to the Münsterland. Since this time I am living here in the countryside with my family, in Schöppingen near the Dutch border. At the moment we are five. My husband, my 21 years old son, my 18 years old daughter, her 20 years old boyfriend who also lives with us since 1,5 year. And last but not least, our crazy dog Murphy.
What do you look for, in order to get that perfect shot?
For me, it is not the perfect shot I’m looking for, not the perfect photo. I am a photo artist so the result of my editing must be perfect for me. But “perfect” is the wrong word. It doesn’t have to be perfect, It shows my emotions, my feelings while I am working with my photo, a little part of me.
What equipment, including camera, do you take with you on your travels?
It is just my old Nikon D3100 with an 18-270 Tamron lens. When I am shooting here where I live I also use a large tripod. For travels, I have a “Gorillapod”. Recently I bought the small Sony DSC-HX90V for my purse. It is good when I don’t want to take the heavy equipment.
What are your favourite lenses and why?
To be honest, I don’t have a favourite lens. The Tamron 18-270 lens of my Nikon and the built-in lens (24-720) of my Sony is all I need for my work because my work is not defined by the photo “out of cam”, rather by my editing, my way to “paint” with my photos.
Who have been your greatest influences?
Actually, I took my influences and inspiration from painters and not from photographers. I really admire the work of Turner. At the beginning of September this year, I visited his permanent exhibition at the Tate Britain and it was amazing to see his great work originally. I also love the atmospheric and moody work of John Atkinson Grimshaw. Foggy, moody and mysterious landscapes and seascapes touch me and so I find a lot of inspiration in those artworks.
What post processing do you do to create your photographic artwork?
I am working with photoshop. First I work with the photo. I try to optimize the colours, the contrast, the mood in the way I need it. Then I layer the edited photo with textures. I think the real work is only now beginning. Now I can include my feelings.
How do you know when the artwork you have processed is finished?
It is very different, sometimes it needs days or weeks to finish a work and sometimes it needs just an hour. The result must touch me, captivate me. Not easy to explain. At some point I feel a little smile inside me and then I know it is finished.
What locations have been your favourite and why?
One of my favourite location was the little fishing harbour in Greetsiel at the North Sea in the very early morning. I had my first solo exhibition at an old windmill in Greetsiel. In the night after the exhibition opening, I couldn’t sleep, because of all the new wonderful impressions, the excitement and the positive tension I had. So I went out of bed at 4.30 am. I took my camera and went to the harbour. The sun rose over the boats. I was alone, no people, no tourists, just me and my camera. I can’t describe my feelings. It was amazing, fascinating and also a bit surreal. I also love misty woods and lonely misty trees. Being alone in nature on an early misty morning gives me a very special feeling. Even cities are my favourite. I am in love with Prague. This city has something magical. Unfortunately, I only know Prague at summertime. My dream is to be alone at the Charles Bridge on an early foggy autumn or winter morning. One of my favourite works is my “Summer Night at Amsterdam”. Amsterdam at night has it’s very own atmosphere and I love to be there. There are so many wonderful cities, of course, London! London is the most important city for my artistic life. I had my biggest success in London, I found friends through my work. There are so many places I still want to see there and I am looking forward to discovering them in the near future. London is simply my favourite city.
What steps do you take, to promote your work?
This is, unfortunately, my biggest weakness. I don’t like to promote myself. I publish my work on Artfinder.com and I am happy to say, that I had 70 sales with Artfinder in the last 2 years. I am working with Gabriel Fine Arts Ltd. They promote my work in London. I had 3 exhibitions with them in London, including a solo exhibition at the beginning of July 2016 in Notting Hill. From 2nd to 7th November 2017 Gabriel Fine Arts gives me the opportunity to show my London cityscape “Piccadilly Circus” in a group exhibition “City of Darkness and Light” at the 508 Kings Road Art Gallery in Chelsea.