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Conceptual Portraits full of Poetry

Interview by Editor Michel Romaggi  in collaboration with the author Anja Diabaté 
Published the 14th of May 2021


'The Peacock'  series

Anja creates quite original portraits. She magnifies very beautiful faces by drowning them in colourful decors.  In this particular one titled 'The Peacock' which is part of an outstanding series,  a magnificent face profile melts into a sea of peacock feathers.
I was triggered to learn more about Anja's source of inspiration and how she succeeds to make these works of art.  Thank you for answering my questions.

First of all, where do you get the idea of mixing faces with these varied and colourful decors?
I think it´s a mix of different aspects. But it certainly is also a development process that is constantly evolving.  To start, there is always a concept for every series that I create. By that, I mean carefully considered and worked out motifs that differ from one another but never get lost in the entire series.



The next factor is inspiration. To me, everything is really inspiring and a source of sensory perception.  I can explain it as another world. If you see it and allow it, it is filled with infinite things. Full of colours and shapes, light and shadow, soft and hard, happiness and sadness.

As an example: umber, gold, the blue hour, gentle rays of light, affect, contrasts, the shadow of a chair, the drops of water on the freshly washed tomato, the sea, a conversation, a view, the word, march to a different drummer, reflections in a glass of water, art, lines, the surface of a stone, the smell of earth, music in all its forms, eyes, a dream, nature, animals, crying, purple, bright startling light, experiences, colour between the fingertips, the taste of a fruit, the movement of an octopus, coral red, a book, walking barefoot, cold and warm, dancing, painting, the shape of a leaf, laughing, feeling …



 It also is about intuition.  I always try to trust mine. Then my feelings are the compass that guides me. This allows my creativity to develop. 

How do you choose the faces?
My two sons can be seen in my images. They are my faces. It is a unique collaboration for which I am very grateful.


'The Leopards'

To fully answer this question: for me, every face is beautiful and every face has or can show a deep charisma if the person allows it.  It is my job to convey deep feelings to the outside world.
I will choose a face according to - whether it fits into my overall concept or - whether I have the feeling that I can create real images of the soul from that person.
It takes a lot of effort to develop and photograph an artistic series, so I have to be very confident.

How do you decide the decorative environment you choose?
I select the decorative environment on one hand while I am developing the concept and on the other hand while editing the image. So there are always two steps.

The development of a concept means first of a specific topic.  I will take the peacock series as an example.
I make sketches of the set, poses, and expressions.

This part begins with a large number of questions:

* how would I like to show the merger of human and animal in an artistic framework,
* how does this animal behave, what colours and shapes do I find in its plumage,

* how does this animal feel, what posture does it have,

* how do I find the right expression for my model what supports the image statement, * how can I paint the peacock aesthetically on the face,

* how much time do I give myself to paint the make-up,

* how can I create my own peacock, which colours I use, what can I use later in image processing, for example, gold reflections or sequins, do the sequins fit or are they in the overall composition possibly disturbing,

* how do I create the eye so that it gets artistic support to look,

* how exactly should the background look like,

* how do I create an expressive, unique and touching image,

* how do I create new motifs in the same series?

When I´m working on a concept, I also clearly see the series in my mind. That´s a huge advantage and so incredibly exciting for me. Nevertheless, I need to give space to the unexpected during the concept phase and also during the shoot. This creates wonderful opportunities that are a total enrichment.

Then the practical implementation begins. Where do I get hundreds of peacock feathers, how do I attach them so that an appealing background is created, which colours do I need for the make-up, which brushes, special accessories, how are the neck and chest made up, different backgrounds?

I really enjoy it.  I try to build up as much as possible in the set. For the peacock series, I got the fabric of mosquito nets because they have very small openings and I put every single peacock feather into them so that a large peacock wheel was created. I attached that to my black background. After photographing the series, I removed the background and draped it around the model. A few images were taken like this, for example, this one. I really like it a lot.



The second step is image editing. To start, I need a special feeling, a certain atmosphere, otherwise, it doesn't work.  It has to be an absolutely coherent and creative moment for me.  I can say that I usually need about four hours for one picture and I don´t even notice it.  This creative process is pure enjoyment for me so that I forget time and space.  During the image processing, I give the image a further artistic touch, such as details, shapes, colours, light, shadows, and brilliance.  Only when I am completely convinced of the overall composition, my work goes public.

Thus, a series that has already been photographed ultimately emerges over a long period of time. Sometimes I edit images from series that I took a few years ago. I need a feeling of deep intimacy for every image to get involved and to create something artistic.



How do you make them technically? Which camera and which lenses do you use?
What lighting did you use for this one in particular?
I always work with my Canon 5DSR but I would love to have a Hasselblad and hopefully that won´t take too long.  In the peacock series, I used two lenses, a 24-70mm and a 100mm Macro.  I'm working exclusively with natural light and have a golden reflector.

I used the macro lens for this motif. I changed my lenses during the shoot so I´ve used both once.  I really didn´t have to make a lot of technical efforts for this series.

To end this interview, dear Anja … can you tell us something about yourself and your photography practice?
I'm living in Hamburg, Germany with my family and work as an artist.  I love to work artistically and that´s where I found my passion.  Not only does it make me feel good, but it also nourishes my soul. Furthermore, I allow myself to be free in my art and take the time with my art and to take the time it needs to create something new.

It was an honour for me to answer your questions and I want to thank you warmly, Michel. 
Also big thanks to Yvette and to the 1x community for this opportunity!


Glückwünsche auch von mir, liebe Anja! Die Aufmerksamkeit hast du dir zweifellos verdient. Viele Grüße, Steffen
Ich danke Dir sehr für Deine Glückwünsche und Deine wertschätzenden Worte, lieber Steffen. Eine gute Zeit für Dich!
Herzlichen Glückwunsch, liebe Anja! Ich bewundere Deine Arbeiten, die so viel Liebe zum Detail sowie Kreativität, Fantasie und Gefühl zum Ausdruck bringen. Es sind wunderschöne und einzigartige Portraits. Vielen Dank für dieses spannende und inspirierende Interview. Lieben Gruß! Martina
Ganz herzlichen Dank, liebe Martina für Deine wertschätzenden Worte. Es freut mich sehr, dass Dich das Interview inspiriert hat. Sei lieb gegrüßt von Anja.
Amazing photography! I really enjoyed this article. Thank you!
Thank you very much, wicherbos for your friendly and appreciation words.
Happy that you liked this article :-) Thank you Wicherbos
Excellent interview dear Anja. Great to know a bit more about you and your excellent work. Congratulation. Thank you very much for your time dear Yvette. Warm regards my friends.
Thanks so much, my dear friend Joxe. Very glad about your kind and appreciation words. Warm regards, Anja
Thank you,Jose Inazio. Pleased that you liked Anja's interesting answers .
Anya is a great artist her work is very impressive! Magnificent and unique work. I really enjoy your work Anya.
Deep thanks, Geir. I am very glad about your kind and appreciation words.
You are right: Anja is a great artist, but, moreover, she is a really kind person :-)
Herzlichen Glückwunsch liebe Anja zu dieser großartigen und verdienten Präsentation deiner sehr kreativen und unvergleichlichen Arbeiten die ich sehr bewundere. Many thanks also to Yvette and Michael. Greetings Adam.
Ich freue mich über Deine besonderen Worte zu meinen Arbeiten und das wunderbare Lob, lieber Adam. Herzlichen Dank!
Thank you, Adam, I am pleased that you like this article.
An interview that allowed me to deepen and better understand the creative process which is the basis of your wonderful and imaginative portraits. You are undoubtedly one of the most original photographers in 1x, but above all you are a great artist, capable of melting sensitivity, creativity and technical skill giving life to works of rare beauty and originality. Thank you for sharing your creative journey with us, and again my sincere congratulations for your art, dear Anja. And thanks also to you, Yvette, for having once again brought to everyone's attention a very talented photographer like Anja.
I am very touched by your special and appreciative words, dear Sergio. Actually I can't even describe how grateful I am about your big words about my work and person!! I'm so glad and deeply thankful. Warm regards, Anja
Thank you, Sergio. I am happy that this article may have highlighted Anja's great talent.
Thanks, Xibiao ;-)
So many thanks, Xibiao for your kind and special words.
Thank you Anja, Yvette and Michel for this beautiful interview. Amazing work, very beautiful and creative portrait .
Many thanks for your appreciation, dear Vito!
So many thanks, Vito for your beautiful words and your appreciation.
Thank you very much, Vito.
Çok başarılı ve farkli .Tebrik ederim
Thanks a lot for your kind words, Fatma.
Anya is a great artist her work is very impressive! Many congrats
Thank you very much, dear Francesco for your kind words and your appreciation.
Portraits is the most difficult photography genre I've ever done. It's rather difficult not to fall in rough images. This is not for you Anja, in your works I could see art, beauty, creativity and passion. This is only my humble opinion but anyway thank you very much both of you Yvette and Anja. Best Regards
So many thanks for your kind and special words, Federico. I am particularly pleased that you see it that way. Kind regards, Anja
Thanks for your appreciation, Frederico !
Surreal images with amazing interview!!! Great work anja!!
Deep thanks, dear Swapnil. Glad about your words!!
Pleased you like it. Thank you very much, Swapnil!
Anja, thank you for this insight into your creative process. You are an immensely talented artist, and based on my interaction with you on this site, a wonderful and caring individual. Best regards, Patrick
Thank you so much, Patrick for your kind and special words. I am pleased. Kind regards, Anja
You are quite right, Patrick. Anja is not only a great artist she also is a very kind person :-)
Hi, dear Anja, thank you very much for your wonderful interview article. I read it with great interest. I am very inspired by your unique and wonderful sensibility and artistry. I am looking forward to your new work. Congratulations!
So many thanks, dear Teru for your beautiful words. I am glad about your appreciation.
Dear Anja, I really enjoy your work, it's fantastic! congratulations also for this beautiful interview! marco
Thanks so much, dear Marco for your kind and special words. Really glad about it.
Dear Yvette and Michel, I am very glad about this wonderful interview and the special opportunity. It was very exciting for me to reflect on my work while answering the questions. It looks great!! Thank you very much for the pleasant cooperation. Warm greetings . Anja .
Big thanks to you dear Anja ... so nice to collaborate with you ;-) Stay safe and happy ... Hugs, Yvette
Thanks so much, dear Yvette and stay also safe and happy. Hugs, Anja
Thank you, dear Anja, for sharing.Thank you too for your kindness.
Anja your photographic artistic work is opening my mind, magnificent and unique that deserves the exposure. Congrats
Thanks so much for your very special and appreciative words, Elisabeth. Glad that I was allowed to write about my work process and thoughts.
Great work. congratulations to dear Anja. Thank you also for the interview.
Thanks so much, dear Emine for your kind words. It was a great pleasure and a great experience for me.
Thank you very much, Emine. I am happy that you like the interview.
Herzlichen Glückwunsch zu dieser verdienten Präsentation deiner unvergleichlichen Arbeiten. Ich freue mich für dich!
Herzlichen Dank, Udo für Deine wertschätzenden Worte. Freue mich auch sehr über diese besondere Veröffentlichung.
Ich hätte noch Stunden lesen können über deine Inspiration, die Bastelei, die Aufregung bevor es losgeht, was in dir vorgeht wenn du die Ergebnisse zum ersten mal sichtest... vieles kommt hier kurz. Schön zu sehen, dass auch anderen dein Passion für das Außergewöhnliche imponiert, liebe Anja! Ein treuer Fan.
So ein schönes Kompliment, lieber Mike. Ganz herzlichen Dank für Deine besonderen und wertschätzenden Worte! Wir beide und viele andere wissen, wie es sich anfühlt, wenn man das Set vorbereitet, photographiert und dann endlich die Bilder sichten kann. Kaum beschreibbar, weil es eben so unglaublich faszinierend, aufregend und erfüllend ist. Ebenfalls ein treuer Fan Deiner Arbeiten.
Eine großartige Würdigung deiner kreativen, absolut überzeugenden Arbeiten. Glückwunsch liebe Anja!
Ich freue mich über Deine besonderen Worte zu meinen Arbeiten und das Dir das Interview gefällt, lieber Erhard. Herzlichen Dank.
ein wunderbarer Artikel über Dich und Deine inspirierende Arbeitsweise. Zugleich mit einer Auswahl Deiner besten Arbeiten. Das war schon lange fällig und ich freue mich, dass auf diese Weise Deine künstlerischen Arbeit hier zusätzliche Beachtung finden. Gratuliere liebe Anja. Many thanks also to Yvette and Michael Greetings Wolfgang
Es freut mich sehr, lieber Wolfgang, dass Dir das Interview und die Auswahl der Bilder so gut gefällt. Ganz herzlichen Dank für Deine Wertschätzung. Es war für mich eine tolle Gelegenheit die eigene Arbeit zu reflektieren und sie in Worte zu fassen.
Thanks for your neverlasting appreciation, dear Hans-Wolfgang !
Many thanks, Hans Wolfgang
Ein wunderschöner Artikel über dich und deiner faszinierenden Kreativität und tollen Serie, Anja. Es war toll einen Einblick in deine Arbeit zu erhalten. Gratulation. Thank you dear Michel and Yvette for this great interview of this wonderful artist.
Ganz herzlichen Dank für Deine wertschätzenden Worte, Marcus. Es freut mich sehr, dass ich einen kleinen Einblick über meinen Arbeitsprozess und meine Gedanken geben konnte.
Thanks for your appreciation, dear Marcus !
Thank you very much, Marcus. I am happy that you like this interview.