LOTTE VAN RAALTE ISN’T JUST A PHOTOGRAPHER. SHE IS AN OBSERVER DRIVEN BY CURIOSITY AND EMPATHY AND HER PHOTOS AFFECT THE INTIMACY OF THE SUBJECT. LOTTE’S WORKS INCLUDE COLLABORATIONS WITH ADIDAS AND STELLA MCCARTNEY. READ OUR SPECIAL TALK TO DISCOVER MORE ABOUT LOTTE.
What would you tell a child about you and your work?
That I’m a “people’s person” and love to observe, discover and capture people on camera. As a photographer, I explore the world and people through my lens. I would tell them that my head is usually quite busy, and that being a photographer helps me focus on just a few things instead of a million. (I love that you ask me this question, because I kind of strive to see the world – and look at other human beings – from the perspective of a child; full of wonder and curiosity, honest, playful and without judgment).
Do you remember the first photo you took?
I don’t think so but I recently found my first “selfie” taken with a 90’s Fischer-Price Camera. It showed half of my face and my (long-gone) blonde hair. I do remember when I first got interested in photography though. When I was 10 years old, I went to Indonesia with my family. That trip had a huge impact on me, and sparked my curiosity about other cultures and love for travel. We went on many trips and I’d always borrow my parents’ camera. What really stayed with me from the beginning was the quest to capture real moments in an empathetic manner.
Some tips to take a nice picture with a mobile phone.
In all honesty; I’m horrible with mobile phone pictures. But I guess I still photograph from the same low angle as with my proper camera. I use mobile phone pictures more as a little diary. For example; snapshots of things or moments that I find in the streets, or just pictures from exhibitions or other events that I went to.
The first thing you do when you wake up.
Cuddles with my boyfriend followed by 10 minutes of meditation.
Your favorite camera.
I recently switched from Canon to a Sony a7rIII. Mostly because of the size and shape of the camera; very small, light and compact. Therefore, it’s very easy to take while traveling and it feels less “in your face”. Sometimes I wish I didn’t need a camera at all to take pictures, haha. In general, I like to shoot my personal work with as little equipment as possible to be as free and flexible as can be.
Your favorite childhood memory.
Traveling several times to Asia with my parents and younger brothers, and going to the beach just a five-minute walk away from my parent’s house in The Hague.
What is beauty for you?
Vulnerability and strength at the same time. A feeling of empowerment and a certain energy. I find tremendous beauty in honest and pure “in between” moments.
What is your relationship with the mirror?
I don’t think we have a very interesting relationship. I do know I make a different face as soon as I look at myself.
Is femininity and the female body necessarily connected?
No, I think it’s connected to a lot of other things than just appearance. For example, things beneath the surface like wisdom, sensuality, emotion, sensibility, care and art. I’m actually working on two different personal projects both related to this subject. The female body is – and has generally speaking – been portrayed in a completely unrealistic manner, from a gaze that’s not its own. The fact that the female body is heavily sexualized was one factor to drive me to do my own research on the topic. My fascination is further motivated by the fact that the female body is the carrier of new life, and the fact that I’m a woman myself of course makes this something close to my heart. Each time I photographed someone I was left fascinated, curious and inspired. This project has truly opened up for a lot of inspiring conversation, and it has been a powerful experience – one of those projects that truly challenges your worldview and previous perception.
The most difficult photograph you have taken.
I immediately think of a very recent situation. I was on a commercial shoot in Palm Springs, shooting a swimwear campaign. On set, someone impulsively decided to buy a GoPro camera to shoot with under water. An hour later I was in bikini, with big goggles, using a GoPro for the first time whilst being surrounded by 15 people looking at me from the edge of the pool. I felt like a fool and couldn’t see what I was doing. Luckily the model was super professional and the pictures turned out great.
Tell us something you never told anyone.
I don’t think there’s anything I never told anyone. I’m very direct and open. I basically say everything I think and I wear my heart up my sleeve!
What about your work for the new brand Compendium?
One of my favourite commercial shoots! It was a campaign for a new botanical beauty brand; argan oil from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. The founders were partly the creative directors plus two Moroccan twin brothers that are directly related to the family that produces the argan. Together with my producer at HALAL we went on a small trip photographing the family, the landscapes, the product, different skin types and it all felt very honest and pure. The whole story, from product to campaign images, feels like full circle (which is not always the case working with commercial clients). The process was also much longer than usual. That resulted in practicing patience and is in general something we should all practice more and more in this fast-paced world.
Upcoming personal projects.
I’m working on two different projects at the moment (related to women); a book and my first short film. Stay tuned (for the particularly interested, you can follow my journey on Instagram at @lottevanraalte).
What will you do after the interview?
I get more and more requests from people who want to buy my work, so I’m going to look at some tests now to see how I can involve selling photo prints more into my photography career.
Have you already fulfilled your dreams?
Well … I definitely fulfilled a lot of dreams already. Especially when it comes to traveling, meeting and working with inspiring people, but I’m still working on fulfilling many more dreams in near future.