“I am always looking for the small things in a city, and enjoy looking for the fight between the natural and urban world.” – Genevieve Engelhardt
Genevieve Engelhardt is a photographer that isn’t as concerned with what she’s catching in her lens, as how she catches it. Her pieces are about composition and colour, weird angles, and the small things that everyone else seems to miss.
Predominantly a landscape, urban, and night photographer, Engelhardt picks subjects that other people wouldn’t necessarily even stop to look at. “The amount of times I’ve been looked at weirdly in the street, because of what I’m taking a photo of,” she writes, tongue-in-cheek. Her real passion is finding and creating art from everyday streetscapes, office buildings, houses, and even those “tourist-y” photos.
Engelhardt uses strange angles and highlights colours that give her photographs a fairly surreal look. She finds the extraordinary in what could be mundane. She credits that to the influence of painters like Jeffrey Smart and Howard Arkley.
It’s a natural process. Genevieve avoids using computer manipulation wherever possible – no small feat in the age of iPhone cameras and Snapchat filters. The focus of her photographs is to archive the world exactly as she sees it – through the lens. She wants to keep her art as strange, colourful, and beautiful as it appears in daily life and writes that the mission is tainted with digital manipulation. All the colours – whether bright and oversaturated or dull and muted – are finalized in-camera. She even applies this theory to cropping, stating that, “it really makes you think about what you’re taking a photo of instead of relying on a computer for extra cropping or color manipulation.”
Engelhardt’s process has changed over the years. She began taking photos in high school with film and an analog camera. However, after studying Graphic Design (and later Multimedia & Digital Arts), photography became more than a hobby. She would wander around taking photos for a day or an entire weekend. Her subjects were whatever took her fancy – shots of a nice house or street or door. Collections came about by choosing photos from trips and pulling them together thematically.
However, the process has reversed recently. Genevieve now sets forth to wander with a particular series or theme in mind. It might take a weekend or two, but Engelhardt has been focused on collecting photos that are connected. Recently, this has included collections of derelict buildings, nature through the cracks in the city, or a particular architecture style or building.
Engelhardt writes that one of the most challenging parts of professional photography is the fluctuation between focus on art and focus on the art business. While she’s applying for grants and shows, it’s difficult to sustain an equal amount of momentum for the photography itself – whether that’s wandering or pulling together collections or coming up with themes. She says that, “it’s never a 50/50 balance.”
As for her personal favorites, Genevieve chooses photos that are either filled with color or have strong silhouettes or perspectives like this incredible shot:
Check out Genevieve Engelhardt’s fabulously surreal gallery at her Etsy shop to start finding that quiet fight between the natural and urban worlds.