Interview with Desiree Sydow from United Kingdom

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Desiree Sydow

Desiree Sydow, a fine art photographer residing in London, United Kingdom, acquired the majority of her photography skills through a one-year course at City Lit in London.

Interview With The 2023 European Photography Awards Winner – Desiree Sydow

1Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography?
Hello! I‘m Desiree and I‘m a fine art photographer based in London, United Kingdom. I first got into photography about seven years ago. I had a fashion blog at the time, and I remember being slightly embarrassed by the bad quality of the images I posted on the blog. As a result, I booked a one year photography course in order to improve my photography.
2Where did you study photography?

I learned the majority of my photography skills during a one year course at City Lit in London. I did consider going back to university but I couldn’t commit to it full-time due to my main job as a translator, and in the end, City Lit was a great choice because I learned a lot during the course.

Since then, I’ve taken some additional evening classes, and I also take regular online courses by fine art photographers to get inspired and learn different techniques.

3Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
I do remember the first shot that got me very passionate about photography – it was a photo of me for the above mentioned fashion blog. I photographed myself in front of a graffiti wall, going for a sort of "urban fashion photography" aesthetic. I really liked how it came out, and it made me want to take more pictures and improve my skills.
4What equipment do you use?
I used a Nikon D750 for the last few years and recently got a Nikon Z30 which is great for shoots during my travels as it is nice and light. I also use studio flashes and some light modifier for my self-portraits. My favourite accessory is my small beauty dish that creates beautiful light.
5What do you hope to achieve?
So much! I would love to keep improving, win more competitions and be published in different fine art photography magazines. I also write a photography blog and want to expand the educational side of my business, i.e. teach others how to take fine art self portraits and how to start a photography business.
6What compliment inspired/touched you the most?
A friend recently told me that my images always make her “feel something”. This was an amazing compliment for me because the whole purpose and driving force of my photography is to evoke emotions in others, so it was great to hear that!
7What inspires your unique storytelling?
Pretty much anything and everything: classical painting, fashion photography, symbolism and dreams, particular colour combinations, my own emotional landscape, classical music…. There’s inspiration to be found everywhere!
8What THREE (3) words describe your photography style?
Evocative, dreamlike and moody!
9Congratulations! As the winner of the European Photography Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?
I’m really thrilled to be presented with this award. As a self-employed artist working by myself, it is sometimes hard to know if others will find my images interesting or impactful, and such an award can make me feel very validated in that I should keep going with my photography.
10Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 European Photography Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
I entered this image because it’s one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken. It was actually inspired by the word “dream”, and it was taken during the pandemic in the first lockdown, when we all needed a bit of an escape!
11How has winning an award developed your career?
It’s hard to say because I only just won it, but it’s a great addition to my artist biography, and it’s very nice to share as an achievement on my social media.
12Name 1-3 photographers who have inspired you.
Lidia Vives, Brooke Shaden!
13What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out, by a mentor or your role model?
The camera is just a tool – what matters is the intention behind your photographs.
14What advice would you give someone who would like to become a photographer today?
I would say that there is space for everybody in photography. When I started out, I thought photography wasn’t for me because I didn’t want to be a wedding photographer, commercial photographer, landscape photographer, etc. I only realised later on that fine art photography was a thing, and that I didn’t need to go down the commercial path.
15What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

I think it's very important to establish a creative routine - for example, I aim for one shoot every week. It's best not to wait for inspiration but to show up regularly and just create something, to keep going even when you don't feel inspired - that's often when I create my best work.

Also, don't be intimidated by expensive gear or things you`re meant to have – all you need is a camera, you can always upgrade additional lenses, tripods etc later, it`s not really necessary to begin with.

16How do you stay in that space of being receptive to new information and knowledge?
I can’t imagine it otherwise! I’ve always been a very curious person wanting to learn new things.
17How do you stay in that space of being receptive to new information and knowledge?
I'm so thankful for this award and this interview gave me a chance to discuss about my artwork and my journey as a photographer!

Winning Entry

Eden | 2023


This image is inspired by the word "DREAM" and the eternal dream of trying to do something, but not quite being able to, for example never ... (Read more at European Photography Awards)

Desiree Sydow

Desiree Sydow, a fine art photographer residing in London, United Kingdom, acquired the majority of her photography skills through a one-year course at City Lit in London.

Read more about this interview with Marlena Wels from Germany, the Category Winner of the 2023 European Photography Awards.