Despite Wildling’s growth over the last few months, the feeling of working in a family enterprise still remains. Probably because the family of founders Anna and Ran has been involved from the beginning. Anna’s parents’ home in Germany’s Bergisches Land region provides space for meetings, the photo models are friends and family - and Anna’s sister Sarah has been responsible for photo shoots, visual imagery and our Instagram channel from the beginning.
The photographer commutes between Argentina and Germany, exhibiting her pictures all over the world. She takes photos for news and image agencies and has a particular fondness for the empty spaces in art that give people room to connect their own story with the picture.
Sarah at her “Zukunft” exhibition: 488Gallery
Tell me, Sarah: Who are you and how do you work?
My name’s Sarah Pabst and I’m a photographer. Or as it's now often called, a visual artist. After my art degree focussing on photography and painting I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina. And I've been doing the photos for Wildling since it was founded.
Light and darkness play an important role in my pictures. That probably comes from painting, and from my great love of painters such as Caravaggio. The one - light - wouldn’t be possible without the other - darkness. And we have both of them in us, too: light and shade.
Photography’s been my medium for many years. Through photography I can express what I feel, what’s worrying me, what makes me happy, what moves me and what’s on my mind. As well as doing photo-documentary work for the media such as “Der Spiegel”, “Bloomberg News” and various others, for several years I’ve worked on very personal projects. Above all they have to do with my life, my family, its history and my everyday activities.
I love the camera. It enables me to express things that move me and to see things in a way that's different to how they seem at first glance. Even though I mostly work digitally for assignments, for personal projects I often choose analogue cameras, medium format or even the plate camera. Working slowly simply gives very different results.
My pictures are very well-travelled and have been shown in museums and galleries all over the world: Argentina, Germany, the USA (for example a portrait from the first Wildling shoot was on display there!), Greece, France and Croatia, to name a few countries. I love it when collectors send me photos of my framed works.
For the Wildling shoots I want to see as clear an expression as possible in the models, whether children or adults, because that allows people looking at the pictures to identify with the situation. When we view pictures there are empty spaces, things that we can't know, secrets. As we view the pictures we fill these spaces with our own experiences. Revealing everything is boring.
Being wild, being free in your heart, that's an attitude to life. Wildlings are strong characters. Children such as Ronja the Robber’s Daughter or Julie of the Wolves, a book that I loved as a child.
The same is true of Rewild - the models know who they are, they are unconventional, retaining their unique strength; they return your gaze or look into their own future, while still feeling the wild beat of their hearts.
The models are always friends of ours or acquaintances, team members - often people who find themselves in front of a camera for the first time. For me as a photographer that's also a challenge, but that's exactly the way it should be, because after all, Wildling is also authentic.
Hidden in the shoots you’ll find, for example, the children of the founders (my nieces and nephews), my husband and my daughter.
The last shoots took place in an old factory at minus 2 degrees - in summer clothing. That often demands a lot from the models (and the photographer). But when I see the pictures afterwards, my heart jumps for joy!
What do you connect with the word “wild” and when do you feel wild and free?
In the past I often associated wild with dangerous. For example I photographed a series in the favelas, or slums, of Rio de Janeiro before they became peaceful, guarded by one of the most dangerous men in the city. I’d ended up there just by chance (and fortunately I got out again safely).
Since being a mother I’ve become more careful and I try to be better at weighing up risks. The last time I felt wild and free was yesterday evening - I put some Salsa music on and danced through the apartment - sometimes that's all you need.
2007 - in one of Rio’s favelas
Which child-like characteristics do you still have?
A great curiosity and above all my love of people and animals. Sometimes I’m still like the little girl who grew up surrounded by forest and on the back of a horse. Even in the megalopolis of Buenos Aires.
That's why nature is so important in my projects. “Zukunft” [“Future”], a project about the Second World War, my family and memories, includes many photos in the forest. And also, by the way, a portrait of the Yona family, because Anna's my sister :-)
In nature I find my way to myself. I can't live without it. As often as I can I try to go out to the Tigre or the Pampas.
What's your wish for a sustainable future?
Since the birth of my daughter, sustainability has become even more important to me. I'm fighting against plastic, but I often feel helpless. I’m afraid of the world that we’re leaving behind for our children. Global warming is already making itself known - a few days ago it was 21° in Tierra del Fuego and -5° in the northern, usually warm, province of Jujuy in Argentina. My wish is that politics in particular would finally take responsibility for a sustainable future. But if I look around, that’s probably going to remain a dream.
What do you have to say about the Wildlings on your feet?
Since the beginning I've been wearing Wildlings and nothing else, except on the beach. And every day I bend my family’s ear about how I need sandals in our hot climate. They’re working tirelessly on them. So it’s all very exciting!
Thank you Sarah for this interview! Here are some more examples of Sarah’s work, not only for Wildling:
Agency photography - high-level politics for Bloomberg
You can find out more about Sarah and her work on her website: https://www.sarahpabst.com/. And on her Instagram channel you can follow what’s happening in her life and work:https://www.instagram.com/_sarahpabst_/
Thank you, Sarah and run wild!Team Wildling