In Berlin, things had evolved organically. I got my first commission through friends in the magazine industry and signed with my agency, Soothing Shade, during my second year of studies. At that time I had no idea how stupidly lucky that was; I lived on the smallest budget and was always on the go.
I moved to New York in 2013, the week after I took down my graduation show. Some friends thought I was crazy to leave at this point, but I was high on life and finally doing the big move I’d been building up to.
The thing that initially drew me to freelancing was the freedom to build my own schedule, but in a new setting with no commissions to keep me busy, this lack of structure became super hard. Very few photo editors were getting back to me; I was ready, willing and able and my inbox was empty. Even when I did get a meeting, I was still a long way off landing a commission.
Dealing with rejection
I often held off sending somebody my portfolio because I thought I had to make it better still; when in reality I was just scared of the silence from the other side of that email. I quickly had to learn that there is no way to protect myself from rejection. I realised that I had to stop taking it so personally, and instead transform my frustration into fuel to make something – even if nobody was going to look at it.
New York is a brutal place when it comes to money; the anxiety of not having jobs scheduled kicks in quickly. With little work coming in, I had to switch to being proactive, structure my working life independently and get back to taking pictures for the joy of it. Even though the idea of starting to shoot at that time was really tough, I forced myself off the couch and picked up my camera.