Photography meets poetry with Stephanie O'Connor

Short profile

Stephanie O'Connor is from Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa, New Zealand, and currently lives in Berlin, Germany. In her work, she uses the camera as a means of reworking memories through obsessive editing and alienation. At the same time, she explores concepts such as belonging, imagination and memory.

In the interview, she reveals which camera she started her photographic career with and why poetry and photography form a creative unit for her.

portrait of Stephanie O'Connor.


Can you tell us a bit about how you came to photography?

I came to photography in a very unspectacular way, through high school. We started out with pinhole cameras, photograms and analogue techniques used in the darkroom. My mum was also very involved in graphics and visual things, having a great an interest in photography. I was always surrounded by imagery at home - a lot of digital things too, many early 90’s CGI compilations and experimental games.

colourful dreamy photo, water, framed in ArtBox.

Photo: Stephanie O'Connor // Photo print behind glossy acrylic glass and framed in a white maple wood ArtBox

Please share something about your images. What is your special interest? How do you choose the colors, composition, themes etc.? 

For the past few years, I’ve been working in hyper saturated colour photography. I love the hallucinogenic and dream-like quality colour explores, creating an otherworldliness. I’d say my special interest is poetry - it informs most of my series and inspiration. My current obsession is with Louise Glück, her poetry book ‘Averno’ transformed the approach of my current series in progress named ‘Never tire of looking at the stars’. The depictions of nature, the underworld and it’s deep innateness in humanity inspire vibrant and rich colours - deep blues, reds and golds.

Blue-colored person and rock, two pictures in frame Hamburg in natural maple.

Photo: Stephanie O'Connor // Matte photo print on aluminum Dibond framed in a natural maple gallery frame

Where does this interest come from?

To be honest I was a late bloomer with creative writing, and having it as my main creative fuel - but when you find the writers that move you it’s a never ending well of inspiration. Quite a few of my very good friends in Aotearoa (NZ) are talented writers, which has also deepened my interest in poetry - it helps me feel connected to them.

colorful abstract landscape with water and rocks framed in a floater frame Basel alder brown.

Photo: Stephanie O'Connor // Fine Art pigment print under acrylic glass framed in a Basel floater frame made of brown alder wood

What was your first camera?

From what I can remember, it was a Nikon D70. What I can’t remember is my first lens, but I do recall the first time I got excited about lenses. I saved up and bought an 85mm 1.8. That started to transform my images - and how I became obsessed with prime portrait lenses.

What else should we know about you?

I’m from Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and currently based in Berlin, Germany. I work full time as a creative retoucher, as well as a freelance photographer.

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