(More than) 10 Questions: Emerging Photographer of the Year Bente Andermahr

One of the fantastic CCP experiences I never tire of is the varied lives of the students who pass through the doors of the CCP to commence their photographic career.

The featured graduate for today’s 20th Anniversary blog is no different. Before becoming a student at the CCP Bente Andemahr had already received her Diploma in Teaching (Secondary-Fine Arts) from the (then) South Australian School of Art/Western Teachers College in 1971, and had been teaching art and design in NSW and SA for over 23 years. Bente had also received her Bachelor of Visual Communications (Graphic Design) from UniSA 2001 which along with the Certificate IV in Photo imaging from the CCP has been well used in her (now) profession “Andemahr Photography”.

Bente is an imaginative Adelaide-based designer who prides herself in creating an environment that thrills and exceeds clients’ expectations and she primarily offers primarily two types of (favourite) services: creating unique photographic art to suit the colour and theme of styled interiors and interpreting the creative work of designers, decorators and stylists with images that recognise each client’s individualism.

Bente Andermahr commenced her studies with a course in Term 1 in the last year of the CCP at Union Street in Stepney in 2004, returning in Term 1 2005 when we’d moved to Marleston officially and were finally conducting our first classes there. Bente graduated with her Certificate IV in Photo imaging in 2006 – returning in 2007 to complete one more subject being Advanced Lighting 2 with former CCP lecturer Ken Binns. Most significantly Bente has just been awarded the AIPP (SA) emerging photographer for 2017 and so funnily enough, even after 10 years in the industry, Bente is still emerging!

Bente’s passion with photography started very early on as a very keen enthusiast, following the growth of the family and capturing travel locations and architectural inspirations for later artwork. Before she enrolled at the CCP, Bente was entering photographic competitions, local and international exhibitions, building upon her photographic talent, skills and creativity, extending her oeuvre particularly into anything architectural, industrial and mechanical.

Among Bente’s achievements since graduating from the CCP are: Three Silver Medals: South Australia AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards (2017) Three Silver Medals: SA AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards (2016), an Honourable Mention: Siena International Photo Awards Exhibition for Architecture (2015) and her photographic work exhibited extensively throughout Adelaide and South Australia, and internationally online where it has also been noted for several special merits including the Royal Society of Art (SA) Inaugural Portrait Prize Exhibition.

No 1 King William Street, Adelaide (Went to Siena International Photo Awards Exhibition for Architecture 2015)

No 1 King William Street, Adelaide
(Went to Siena International Photo Awards Exhibition for Architecture 2015)

Never to retire, Bente is also a volunteer Gallery Guide at the Art Gallery of South Australia where she absolutely loves to impart her passion about elements of the collection and exhibitions to visitors.

Bente welcomes any enquiries you may have regarding your photographic needs either work for hire or wall decor at bente@andermahrphotography.com or 0403 177 252.

Over to you Bente, it is always great talking with you on Tuesdays over a coffee at Alfonso’s on Hutt St, Adelaide, and congratulations on your latest achievements at this year’s APPAS.

BENTE ANDERMAHR: MORE THAN 10 QUESTIONS

1.    Why did you choose to study at the CCP?

I looked around at the time (2003? -close, it was 2004 Bente!) for an opportunity to formally learn some skills in the photography I had spent my life indulging in, and the CCP was really the only choice, in that it had credentials, was easy to get to (at Stepney then) and outlined the details of the courses available and their content. I only intended to do the one term, but it was kind of addictive, so I returned the following year and did another, then another unit over subsequent Terms until I had achieved the Certificate IV in early 2006. I must say that it has been the best, clear most practical study I have done, with photographic experts providing the training.

2.    Are you making personal work?

I spend much of my time doing personal work. Firstly, I create fine art images using my photography, and explore the concepts of impermanence, transience and imperfection, working through a reductive style of abstraction, taking it as far as I can without losing reference to the original source of the idea. My inspirations come from harbours, airports and railway stations and the markings found there. It is a slow but very creative and personally fulfilling area of work, hopefully leading to an exhibition. My second personal project is just getting off the ground now, where I am photographing and researching the architectural work of women architects in South Australia. It is very much a work-in-progress.

3.    What inspires your work at the moment?

My work at the moment is inspired by the outstanding architectural photographers around the traps today, such a Peter Barnes, David Sievers, Mark Zed (also a CCP graduate), Tim Griffith, John Gollings and William Long. They are doing the work I aspire to and it is very inspiring when you speak with them and tap into some of their thinking.

4.    What have you done since you studied at the CCP, and what are you doing now?

Since then, I have done a number of photographic projects including a baby shoot, corporate photos, winery work, real estate photography and other commercial jobs. I also
• went back to university to complete my Graduate Diploma in Visual Art and Design (Photography)
• joined Australian Photographic Society (APS)
• did the graphical layout and published with the APS two books of collections of the works of Australia wide members
• entered and did well in a number of international photographic competitions (including a Honorary Merit award at the Sienna Inaugural Photography Awards in Italy)
• joined the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photographers)
• Entered the AIPP APPA (Australian Professional Photographers Awards) for the first time last year and gained 3 Silver awards – I received another 3 Silvers this year – how thrilling!

Currently I am working on my Women Architects in SA project and growing my architectural/commercial photography work.

5.    How have you changed since you were a student?

Essentially, I have changed in that I have become better aware of where my photographic skills sit in the industry (commercial and fine art) and I am gradually gaining the confidence to assert myself more in achieving my goals.

6.    Which photographers - past or present - have been major influences on your work?

A huge list of the architectural and urban works of photographers such as Wolfgang Sievers, The Russian Constructivists (Alexander Rodchenko etc), The Bauhaus photographers (Maholy-Nagy etc), the German Dusseldorf school graduates (Andreas Gursky etc), Aaron Siskind, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Harry Callahan, Charles Sheeler, Kathrine Westerhout, to name just a very few.

7.    Is there a person (from anywhere, dead or alive) you admire most?

I am not sure there is just one outside the Australian painter Jeffrey Smart. His subject matter, the compositional discipline and the sheer evocativeness of his stark urban landscape here and in Italy have irrevocably impacted my eye and work.

8.    Is there one iconic image which has most impacted on you and your work?

I can’t think of one particular iconic image in isolation, but I was very inspired and activated in photography by a book covering the world’s most impactful photographs.

9.    Any surprises - good or bad - as you have progressed in your career?

Having been a mature student when I went to the CCP, and having spent my life (even if creatively focussed) in working for an organisation, my surprise has been the challenge in self motivation and working alone in trying to transition as a self-employed photographer. Instead of, in a sense, work waiting for you to do within an organisation, my surprise is the adjustment I am needing to make to create my work, seek out the opportunities, find paid work, manage the business side, discipline my schedule to cover my needs and remain motivated and self-assured as I progress, learn and achieve. It is not for everyone.

10.    Do you have any advice for student photographers?

Simple; keep the passion. Have faith in your own voice/style in photography, find the niche it sits within, and don’t give up. Life is continual learning, it never stops, so be prepared to seek, investigate, research, try new techniques and experiment even if the areas are off the track of photography. It all goes to broadening your mind, perception and ultimately the quality and message of your photography.

Join the AIPP (while a student), to meet a great and willing group of photographers working in the industry. Compete in well chosen competitions that suit your genre. (AIPP APPA is a good start).

11.    What are your passions outside of photography?

Is there a life outside photography? Facetious I know, but finding a work-life balance is important. However, I am a creative creature who has been involve in fine arts all my life, so my passion outside photography is the volunteer touring I do art the Art Gallery of South Australia, for students and the public, through the permanent collection and particularly the feature exhibitions (like the Versus Rodin currently on show). In our on-going training, I am particularly passionate about researching and presenting to the gallery guides on photography.