Milena Wojhan is a photographer based in Munich, Germany. With a number of impressive projects under her belt, including one with Numero Berlin, Boiler Room and The Opéra magazine, we chat to Milena about her inspirations, how she first started working in photography, and her future plans
Hi Milena! Tell us a bit about yourself, where you are based, and what you do?
I grew up in Berlin and currently live in Munich where I first started training as a photographer. Now I study fine arts at Akademi der Bildenden Künste where I am trying to “un-learn” – finding new ways to create images whether with or without apparatus, and making the invisible, visible.
Amazing! Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer?
I’ve always had an oversensitivity to light and colours. I imagine that I can see people’s aura... I was/am a heavy daydreamer and generally also a very visual being. When I was 9 years old, someone pushed a crappy Sony into my hand, and I snapped around. My mother's friend told me, "damn girl you have one hell of an eye!". That definitely stayed in my head, and I thought to myself if they say I can do that, I probably can! If he had given me a knife to throw, would I be a knife thrower now?
Hahaha perhaps!! Is that how you got started?
Yes! I also liked to play. I dressed up and transformed my friends, then broke into abandoned places to photograph them there in borrowed wedding dresses on collapsed spiral staircases. I did this with almost all of my classmates in school…. I loved to think up a story for each of them and asked them who/what they would like to be. Since then, I have not stopped playing.
What is your favourite shoot you have worked on to date?
I can barely answer that... In fact, the most recent shoot is usually the one I like to work on the most, which may be because the energy there is still the freshest. In this case it was a collaboration with the performance collective "service not included". It involved 11 performers, 11 sets, in 11 hours. I had all the freedom and got to tell all these stories between strobes and flying limbs. It challenged me and I had so much space to play and experiment.
Wow! It sounds so cool. Where does your inspiration come from for your pictures?
I draw my inspiration from anything and everything - a conversation, a word, a work of art, even a look can be enough to trigger a chain of ideas for me but above all, I would say from the people who immediately surround me, or specifically the people with whom I am working. I am like a sponge! I like to dissolve in my counterpart (which I also think belongs to a good photographer - the ability to detach from oneself and liquefy). I think in general we should put our eyes much more on our friends and our environment, instead of always idolizing only the big players. Oh, and light! Light itself, light when it hits a body. Watching it form a shadow, spreading, wrapping itself around a body or dancing on it inspires me. I always like to buy a lot of light stuff with which I experiment at home for upcoming shoots.
I couldn’t agree more about finding inspiration in those around you! It’s much more unique. I noticed you have worked with Numero Berlin, what was that like?
It was actually one time but there was a lot of output! It was excessive, boundlessly playful and I let off steam in post-production like never before in a shoot. My team was fantastic; it consisted of my closest friends from the art academy and the fashion world so I had the opportunity to work with the best of both worlds.
That sounds perfect! Who would be your dream model to work with right now?
No one comes into my mind that spontaneously. I can find my dream person any time, maybe he or she will be just sitting in front of me on the train tomorrow or in a café! Ah wait, but now someone comes to my mind, I think someone I would love to work with would be @MorphingMuse. She is like a dream coming alive to me… I think a collaboration with her would catapult me into another world. Psst, @MorphingMuse, if you read this – call me!
Ooh I hope she sees this then! How did COVID-19 affect your working life?
Due to the fact that absolutely no jobs were coming in, I was able to devote myself to things for a long time, in a time of "not being seen", free of condemnation and judgment. I started drawing and was able to acquire new working methods during this phase.
Are you ever on the other side of the camera much?
I was and I am doing it every now and then mostly to observe how others do my job. Also, I think it makes you a better photographer… it's important to be able to understand what I can demand from my vis-a-vis and what he/she/they needs to feel good, to blossom. In general, I don't enjoy it (anymore).
Who are your favourite photographers?
Nick Knight has remained one of my greatest sources of inspiration but I have many photographers I admire: Vasso Vu and his sense of colour and composition; Harley Weir for constantly reinventing herself and her medium; Sheila Metzner - goddess, sculptress of timeless beauty; Cho Gi-Seok… he always takes my breath away, a master of light; Joseph Häxan, fuck his work seems limitless. The artist A.D Coleman, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jean-Vincent Simonet..
Hahaha it’s always good to have a lot of inspirations! What is the fashion scene like in Munich?
I'm not really in the fashion game anymore and I have lost sight of the fashion world so I cannot really tell. Maybe I am not seeing potential here in Munich but I would say that it is quite adapted and uniformed, delayed and ...dry? Maybe you can tell that I am not exactly enthusiastic about the scene here.
Haha well we appreciate the honesty! Anything exciting planned next that you can share with us?
I'm planning a performance/installation about the figure of the “wolf mother" and currently, I am looking into the concept with my special effects artist. It will be techie, it will be bloody, it will be beautiful!