Imagine a collection of stamped passports. Every stamp singing of adventure from places all over the world. Now picture Claudia Goetzelmann, globe trotting, photography extraordinaire. Her passport would be a choir, every page bellowing out songs of adventure about Indonesia, Africa, Germany, and Europe, (just to name a few). With a background in fashion design and an education in social law, this determined woman never stopped pursuing her love of photography. And that passion vividly shows in her photos and successful career. Claudia inspires us to defy all odds and pursue what we love. We are thrilled here at Plaid Pony to share her voice with you.
Tell us about your art and how you got involved with photography.
Mhmm, I got my first camera when I was four years old, and I always loved taking photos. My parents thought it was a good "hobby" to have and nurtured that idea but not the fact that it could be my job. I wanted to be a fashion designer and study pattern making and design. But my parents believed it was more wise to study social law. So I did. With a minor in photography. Photography always was my passion. My second passion was and still is traveling and only when I moved to Africa I turned to a more serious approach to photography and then eventually into my profession.
What a pivotal moment for your photography career?
I think there have been several such moments. When I moved from Indonesia to Singapore I became way more serious about it. I moved from travel journalistic work to portraits to shooting for annual reports (that was a big business in Singapore at that time.)
What are you currently working on?
I recently went to Uganda for f Beauty Startup. I got to wear many hats: Photographer, camera man, director, art director, sound guy/women, my own assistant. I knew when I took on this project that it would be mad but also super fun. There was no time for jet lag, it was full on. Shooting as many mediums as possible. Getting up super early to catch the fast rising sun around the equator. The brand partnered with Sephora. And the brand video that I shot was one of the best they had ever seen. I think that alone made the trip worth while! After the Uganda trip I shot a lot of really cool beauty product photography in the studio for the brand launch in mid August.
What has been your favorite set to work on? Why?
OMG you are asking very complicated questions. (laughing) I honestly don't know. Mhmm...I love the sets where I get to collaborate with creative minds. When we brainstorm and make a plan and then bring it to life. Also somehow I always feel that my last shoot was my favorite. Maybe because the energy and satisfaction of creating images is still fresh. And then I dive into the next one, the next shoot and pour my mind and juices into that.
What is one of your proudest moments in your career?
This is another difficult one. Mhmmm...In more generic and esoteric way I would say when clients/art buyers from around the globe tell that they know my style and recognize my images when they see them...and then consequently reaffirming that I have found my style/essence and that I can build from there. No matter what is asked to shoot. That in itself is a pretty powerful moment.
What are some other things you enjoy when you are not shooting?
I escape into nature a lot. Any form of sport - hike/run/bike/yoga. I am very fortunate as I live in San Francisco with soo many possibilities to go and be in nature. From the mountains to the beaches and the desert.
What is your favorite part about being on set?
I love when everything gels together. The team, the idea, the preparation the execution ..When everyone is on the same page and feels creative and inspired and we all challenge and push one another along the creative wave. That is when some magic can happen and something opens up and we can go beyond what are told or scripted to do.
And then at the end when everyone feels satisfied and fullfilled and walks away with a big smile as we created something awesome. That to me, is the biggest compliment.
What does #createmoments mean to you?
That moment when everything comes together. When we all connect, when everyone has done their parts and relaxes. I think that is when the magic happens. It's an opening. And after that when we are done and we all walk our ways feeling happy and accomplished inside that we created what we set out to do and beyond. I love that feeling of collaboration - we could high five each other and say yes, awesome, well done and, so much fun, lets do this again.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOUR FANS MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I wanted to be a fashion designer at first and I know how to make and cut patterns and I am pretty good with the sewing machine. I went through a phase where I only would wear my own clothing. Maybe one day I will come back to it...
What advice can you provide for future photographers?
Don't follow trends. Find your own voice. Being a photographer is not as glamorous as it may sound. It takes perseverance. You have to really really want it and it will show in your images/work etc. And value your work. Don't sell yourself short because of a job. Standing up for your work takes courage but it is soo worth it.