Puppa Fromm – Questions for…

We received many impressive photos from dedicated photographers for our Datacolor photo contest about travel and landscape photography that took place in Germany during summer 2017. Our jury had a hard time selecting the five winning images, as so many photos would have deserved to be awarded. In order to savor these wonderful images, we will present some of these pictures in our blog from time to time, introduce you to the photographer and tell the story behind the image.

 

Name:
Puppa Fromm
CV:

Apprenticeship as a civil clerk and preschool teacher; working in public service for 26 years; hobby photographer

Suffers from SLE and discovered travel and photography as her personal medication

When did you start your photography?

I discovered my love for photography at the early age of 6 when my father handed me an Agfa pocket camera. I can still see the red dot of the shutter release before my inner eye and hear the accompanying sound.

The long wait and excitement until the film was finally developed is something we „unfortunately“ lost these days with our modern equipment, but the fun I have always had with photography remains the same…

For my liking, photography contains way too many physical and technical basics. Thus, I photograph as per my gut-feel. The best camera doesn’t help when you don’t have a good eye for a scenery… this is something I work on every day, preferably while travelling.

Is photography your hobby or your profession?

Photography is my strong passion, as is travelling! I am a hobby photographer and I am not technically adept. I therefore decide according to instinct, following my motto „The eye takes the photo, the camera doesn’t.“

I am happy when I get the chance to tell stories through my pictures and when I win a prize in a competition – even better when I win a trip or money I can invest in my next travel adventure.

For about 10 years I took photos for a magazine in Frankfurt, covering stories on party and nightlife. I earned a bit of pocket money and had free admission to the clubs and didn’t have to pay for drinks. Every now and then, I was admitted to concerts and got to spend time in the press section in front of the stage. These moments are lasting memories and you can’t just go and simply pay for such experiences. Money doesn’t buy you that.

A few times, I sold my photos to magazines, daily newspapers or agencies and the money I earned was put straight into the next piece of equipment or my next trip.

 

 

How and where was the image taken which you entered to the competition? Is there a story about it?

Yes, there is indeed. I have dreamed of swimming with the pigs on Bahamas for a long time. In recent years it has been commercialized and I was keen on fulfilling my dream before there are way too many tourists, spoiling the adventure. And here is my story:

I have to admit that I took this photo with my smartphone and it was just one of these lucky shots. As much as I frown upon smartphone photography, one can actually be really lucky at times to have a camera in the first place – just as I was lucky here: „The best camera is the one you that you carry with you.“

My dream came true!

I had done my research beforehand and had booked an accommodation that allowed for me to paddle out to the pigs on my own. This was of course not the official tourist spot and well-known island „Big Major Cay“, but since I was so keen to see the pigs I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them. I did indeed also do a trip to „Big Major Cay“, but it was more important to me to do this in my own time rather than doing the standard tourist trap of 15 minutes with the pigs and off we go again… I love adventure.

Ah well, our neighbors, 4 tough young ladies from New York were a tad quicker that morning, snatched up the kayaks and paddled across. There were still kayaks left for us, but no paddles, which is why we decided to wait for them to return and spent our time swimming with a few dogs. This worked perfectly fine as a warming-up to swim with the pigs.
It didn’t take the girls too long to come back and they were really excited. „Be careful, the pig with the black nose is sooo crazy, and the other with horns, so dangerous…” To be honest, this didn’t shock me at all – I was way too excited!

As we were approaching the island, I noticed two big „chunks“ in the water and was quite surprised to see how big they really were. I didn’t say a word though, as my friend is a bit of a wimp (shush, don’t tell her). We secured our kayaks and I had a good look around, a bag with sandwich bread in my hand. Suddenly, one of these „chunks“ started making its way towards me – WOW, little did I know about how fast these pigs were! My friend took her belongings and dashed off into the water (back then, I really didn’t feel like laughing at all, but today I still wear a smile on my face when I recall her running back into the water). In the meantime, I tried to run away on the beach, with these sharp stones piercing my bare feet (either I am a real wuss or I have really soft feet). The pig was way quicker than me and so I looked for a way to surrender. So I threw the plastic bag with bread at the pig while my friend shouted from the water „Are you crazy? You can’t hand it a plastic bag“… Well, excuse me – I was in a panic and didn’t have the time to unwrap it and hand it over, my dear. I was just running for my life!

This maneuver bought me a bit of time to escape, but where to?!
It didn’t take the pig too long to finish the bread and believe me, the pig was not dumb and could tell bread from plastic bag. So it was off to new adventures, taking a closer look at our kayak, which already had a little tear. It hopped onto our kayak with its solid weight of about 200 kg and started chewing on a safety vest, tearing it apart and spreading Styrofoam all over the place…

Right – I was taken aback and had even more respect for this creature than before. Using a little stick however, I tried to chase it away – it must have looked absolutely ridiculous, me trying to chase this massive boar with a stick as thin as soccer club’s supporter flag. I believe we would be YouTube millionaires, had anyone filmed our little encounter!

When it decided that it was done with our kayak, it got back on the beach, dug a hole in the sand and a few piglets came out of the bush to join in. We realized that they were just ravenous, but not dangerous… Maybe we just happened to be the first set of tourists on that day and they were used to being fed. I assume that the girls from NY didn’t have food with them, which is why they would have returned so quickly. These pigs really made quite an appearance!

Since there were no other tourists, we could take this opportunity to start making photos and the pigs were very patient. It almost seemed like the big pig was happy to have visitors and maybe it saw me as a friend, having brought the bread.

Suddenly, the first boat anchored and all the other pigs appeared out of nowhere – this must have been the signal for food… as they got into the water, we could take more photos of swimming pigs before making our way back home.
My friend had a shoulder injury; I had issues with my legs. So we decided to walk back through the ocean, rather than paddling. What an experience and how naive were we?! Of course we didn’t think about stepping on a stingray or anything else possibly harmful… Nope, we were just so happy with our pig encounter that we didn’t grasp that at all.
This was the first of three encounters with „my“ pigs!

P.S. Decent as we are, we did of course take our plastic bag home with us…

Who and/or what inspires you most?

I am inspired by people telling me their stories, particularly when they have a different cultural background. Thus, I enjoy taking photos of people while travelling. Sometimes, it’s just a moment that fascinates me, an idea, maybe my family or my friend or even friends in general. It is important to me to always keep my eyes wide open for photographic opportunities.

Vivian Meier’s story impressed me a few years ago and I can identify myself or my type of photography with her style. Her photographic skills were indeed the incarnation of true art during a time when there was no digital photography. There were indeed people who got along without Photoshop, can you imagine?!

What’s your photographic focus?

Definitely travel photography!

I love foreign cultures, try to fit in as far off the beaten track as possible and enjoy getting to know people as long as they want me to. Respect for other people and their cultures is a given!

When traveling, I photograph in order to document and to tell a story with my pictures, trying to convey this feeling of being part of it all, evoking people to contemplate about what the person in the photo might have been thinking or feeling when he or she was being photographed… I enjoy giving people the impression that they actually did the trip themselves… a friend of mine once told me that I photograph people’s souls.

Nonverbal communication with people before taking a photo works perfectly, especially in Asia, and I got used to it during my years of working as a party photographer! I love street photography and capturing the moment.

Sometimes, I also like taking photos of kids and animals.

What’s your next photo project, your next challenge?
Hongkong and Vietnam, but I dream of so many different countries – I can’t grow old enough to be able to see all of them in this lifetime!

 

 

Do you include color management in you photographic workflow?

To be honest, I don’t consider color management a lot in my workflow, as once you do it, you better do it right and that requires the necessary equipment, which is in a price range I cannot afford with my salary as a public servant.
I try to deal with images straight from my camera, which is why a high-quality camera is important to me. Sometimes, I play with filters on my camera and when I go through my photos, I often feel that the ones without filter are the best.

I am not a big fan of Photoshop. Most images nowadays are edited, people tend to just push a few buttons and sliders and think the image is more beautiful, without even realizing that they absolutely pushed the limits and exaggerated.

Instagram is an offence to any photographer who actually did an apprenticeship and makes a living from photography. Nowadays, everybody seems to call themselves photographers, with a smartphone ready to go, just add a few filters from one of these countless Apps – all of a sudden, the worst photo turns into art. Instagram isn’t about the images anymore, it’s just about who hast he most followers. If you follow me, I’ll follow you… in case you don’t reciprocate this favor fast enough, I’ll un-follow you again. To me, this is a lot like kindergarten and it’s all about quantity and not quality.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not totally against adding a bit of contrast or reducing some of the brightness, but please keep it within normal boundaries. I am not a fan of investing my precious time in photo editing. I’d rather spend my time on photography and on training my perception, in order to capture the moment without having to use Photoshop in the end.

What do you do with your photos, do you print them, post them on your social media accounts or your website or do they simply stay on your hard drive?

My family gets photo books for Christmas or as birthday presents, my friend receives a „Best of“ book every year. Whenever I travel, I do a „Best of“ book of my journeys, as I am a bit paranoid that one day my computer or data storage might explode and I end up with no photos at all.

On top of that, every now and then, I do photo books covering a certain motto. „The shot of the year“ ends up on canvas or Alu Dibond. I love crafting and sending postcards. Some of my photos I use for these purposes.

There once was an exhibition on the topic of travelling at my local flower store I could take part in and my friend once had an Austrian wine booth on a wine event, which we decorated with some of my cow pics.

Sometimes, I hand photos in for competitions, send them to magazines or newspapers.

I once set up a photo album on Facebook, but haven’t really followed it through, as I have issues making a decision on which photos to keep. So I use them for my travel journals and upload them to certain platforms to sell them, which already paid off a few dollars.

What’s your photographic goal, what do you dream of?

Since I only rely on my gut-feel and don’t have technical skills, there is nothing viable that goes anywhere near earning money with my photos. The market is saturated with professional photographers and in order to be able to make a decent living from photography, you’ll need to end up in the top tier.

I am content when I continue to gather experience and beautiful moments, when I am given memories, adventures and fun while travelling. Sharing encounters with beautiful people is all I can ask for. If I can continue to afford my travel expenses and carry on with my photography, I am absolutely happy and I dream of travelling the world.

To me, travelling is a form of medication as it reduces the stress hormones in my body and SLE reacts to stress. I haven’t had an SLE attack for many years and it looks like my inner beast copes really well with travelling.

Since travelling is an expensive hobby, I try to finance my ventures through creative activities. That means I often end up travelling a bit more than my account balance would allow for. That’s the way it is when you have more days of annual leave on your balance than money on your bank account! My to do list is long: Laos, Kambodscha, a trip on Mekong, Costa Rica, Peru, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Columbia, Bali, Philippines, Borneo, India, Seychelles – and I am not done yet…
I did however lose my heart in Canada and I need to go back to find it, but I am afraid it won’t come home with me… in my next life, I need to work in the travel industry and try to combine my passion for photography with it…

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