Laura Kaczmarek on Shooting Her Besties on the Curbs and Mountains of Zurich and Innsbruck

We asked the German photographer about taking her crew, Heckmecks, to meet up with Swiss crew Shreddermoes in the lands of cheese fondue and breathtaking views.

Endless streams of cheese fondue. Cute little houses straight out of fairytale books. A country made up of bankers, bankers’ associates and, well, more bankers. For most people, that’s the limited albeit dominant image that comes to mind when they think of Switzerland—but for photographer Laura Kaczmarek, Switzerland equates to her childhood. “Last time I’d been to the mountains, I was a little kid,” she says. “I still had really good memories of that time and wanted to reconnect with the whole thing. It was really important to me to end up slap bang in the middle of the mountains and walk right up to the top.”

To achieve that goal, Laura grabbed her all-girl crew – they’re called Heckmecks – and headed down to Switzerland. Besides just hanging out in the crisp mountain air, the purpose was to create a series for her upcoming photography book that depicts her besties and Swiss female crews doing their thing together. The first two days were spent in Zurich, where the Heckmecks crew (Alice, Lailah, Loui and Laura) met up with Alice and Salome of Swiss crew Shreddermoes; though the two crews had been internet friends for a while on Insta, meeting IRL turned into 48 hours of chilling on slappy curbs, hitting up Zurich’s bars, checking out the Brunau outdoor skatepark and eating ice cream at the Zurich Street Parade.

Once everyone got comfy with each other, the crew left the land of cheese fondue for Innsbruck. In this tiny, ancient and quaint city nestled in the Austrian alps, the crew underwent classically touristy activities like Gondola rides and cocktail hours at rooftop bars. After all, nothing like some sunny sessions and cocktail nights to strengthen a spark—which you can probably tell from the photos that German photographer Tina Willim captured throughout the trip.

Now that Laura and Heckmecks are back home and gearing up for another crew trip to Tel Aviv, we caught up with Laura about Switzerland, photography and the most important part of all—crew love.

GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hey, Laura. You just took a photography trip to Switzerland, but chose to bring your crew of besties with you. What does your crew mean to you?

Laura Kaczmarek: They mean a lot. Leilah keeps me young, Loui keeps me grounded and Alice gives me loads of positive energy. Of course I could have approached the project from a totally different angle, but why do it alone if I have the opportunity to share the whole thing and live through all the new impressions and experiences with company.

How are your friendships important or unique?

I think that neither of us four is a typical girl. Every one of us has something special about her; together, we simply make a great unit.

You are all different ages. How did you get together to form heckmecks?

Age has got absolutely nothing to do with it. I’ve known Loui and Alice for a really long time now and Leilah has only been living in Germany for the past three or four years. We’ve been skating together a lot since the summer of 2016 and at some point we read an article about different girl crews and thought, “well, we can do that, too.” We came up with the name on the same day. In the Ruhrpott region of Germany, where we live, people often say “mach mal kein Heckmeck” which means something like “don’t stress”. It simply felt right (even though Leilah still thinks we got our name because of a line from the rap song “Ich rolle mit meim Besten” [I roll with my bestie] by Hafbefehl).

Tell us about going to the mountains. Why did you choose Zurich and Innsbruck?

Last time I’d been to the mountains, I was a little kid. I still had really good memories of that time and wanted to reconnect with the whole thing. It was really important to me to end up slap bang in the middle of the mountains and walk right up to the top. And it was more than worth it. Sometimes you arrive in a city and you just get good vibes right away. That’s what happened to me in Innsbruck. I’d go back there any time. Apart from that, it’s quite a contrast to our next trip to Tel Aviv. I can’t wait to bring all the various places together afterwards.

What’s this talk about a chicken club?

Some dude asked me once on WhatsApp how many chicks there were in Heckmecks and his autocorrect turned it into chickens. Since then we’ve been firmly convinced that our first collab will be something about chickens. Sexy chickens with fishnet stockings and a nice booty.

Do you think that having a strong connection to your girls makes your work as a photographer easier, or helps in some way?

Definitely. It always helps if you’ve known the people you’re photographing for a while. The portraits look more authentic and genuine. There’s nothing staged about them and I like that a lot. Even when I’m photographing people I haven’t had any contact with before, I take the time to get to know them first. It’s very important to build a connection. I prefer to take a true visual image and don’t want to stage too much. I don’t like poses or exaggerated situations.

What do you want to achieve over the next few months? On a personal and professional level.

Over the next few months I plan to focus on the book we’re putting together with Girls Are Awesome and adidas Originals. I get super excited just thinking about it. There’s nothing better for me than ending up with something printed in my hands, smelling it and knowing that all those good memories have been immortalised forever. Of course I also have to work at the same time. But I love my job. It’s my life and it’s never boring. Apart from that, the Tel Aviv trip is coming up and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m already thinking about the photos I’ll bring home, the light, the different colours and impressions from the city. I just can’t wait.

We can’t wait, either. Thanks, Laura.