We talked about core values, photography goals, the Berlin lifestyle, and the time she and Laura Reuss got matching haircuts.
24-year-old photographer and fashion producer Filiz Serinyel is all about dedication, inclusivity and precision in art. Born and raised in a small village in the South of Germany, Filiz moved to Berlin to further pursue her creative passion. She never expected to stay for five years, but her goals have expanded along with her growing network of fellow creatives in the industry.
We had a chat with Filiz about her motivations in her work and partnering with friends to collaborate as a collective.
Photography by Filiz Serinyel
So you grew up in a “small town” setting. Do you feel that your rural upbringing had an impact on the person you are today? And how has the city shaped you?
Yes. My parents are very kind, loyal and hardworking people, who taught me to be honest and to take responsibility for my actions. Growing up, they always reminded me of the value of compassion and patience – for which I am very grateful. Living in Berlin has made me hold on to these values more strongly, but it has also taught me to toughen up a bit and address my weak points, especially by working and getting to know the business side of life.
How do you feel about the city of Berlin? Does it inspire you?
Moving to the capital has influenced me in so many ways. All I’ve ever wanted to do is follow my own path and do what I love. Somewhere along the way, I realized that’s not always so easy, but Berlin has offered me a lot of opportunities and some big insights. My views have become a lot wider about what’s out there and about what I can do.
Berlin is also a very creative city. There are so many interesting people here who continue to influence me in my photography. It’s definitely the people I’ve encountered that have gotten me to where I am now.
What is your preferred “job title” if someone were to ask you what you do for a living?
I sometimes ask myself this same question haha. I’m best described as a professional photographer and a high-end producer working in fashion.
How did you first get into photography?
My sister got a Canon camera as a present for her 18th birthday. Well, I ended up taking it out several times to shoot my friends in the village – we’d dress up and everything, it was funny. Then at school, I took the pictures for our prom (Abiball) and created the flyers. At home, I’d always been creative, working on the computer and using photoshop to make collages. That camera bought me a new medium to work with.
From there, I moved forward with my education, took on internships, and got as much hands-on experience with professionals as I possibly could. All of these experiences lead me to where I am today.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career thus far?
I’ve experienced so many highlights it’s hard to choose – it feels like it’s getting topped every time. Of course, my first shoot was memorable, maybe the first time working with a celebrity, first time working on a high-end production, and then maturing and getting to partner creatively with so many different people on a daily basis. I am constantly working towards making my next job the next biggest highlight.
What’s your favourite part of being a professional photographer?
That would definitely be working on set in a team and being able to offer people jobs to fit all the different needs to bring a production together. It’s great to work in a network together and to see things slowly grow.
You take very striking photos and you always seem to capture a great deal of depth in your work. How do you achieve this?
It’s about creating and harnessing the right energy on set but beyond that, it also comes with the art of how I use after effects. Retouching and photoshop don’t necessarily mean overly doctoring or deforming a photo – even just the colour correction of a photo can bring so much more depth.
What is most important for you to show, in your work?
I hope that the definitive style and quality of my photos set me apart from others. A professional look with beautiful colour correction, cropping, and attention to detail. I hope that people can appreciate my way of thinking and my point of view from my work.
Are there aspects about your job that you’re not the biggest fan of?
The hierarchy is really strong, and the motivations of artistic people can change quickly from the pressure of time and money. Superficiality is a feeling that I’ve felt a lot, and I’m not a fan of that.
These days, airbrushing and the standard use of photoshop is a hotly debated issue. How do you feel about retouching?
Retouching is a big part of my work that I love. For me, it’s the art to perfect my pictures in a high-end and natural way. But retouching has always been a topic, because in the commercial world, it is always about selling an idea, and the tool that’s used to convey or manufacture beauty is photoshop. Everyone can create a beauty idea. I consider my work with photoshop important; trying to improve the picture in the right way, and enhancing the natural beauty of a wonderful photograph.
How do you see a social media platform like Instagram changing the landscape of photography? Do you think it is a positive change?
Instagram changed lots of lives. Suddenly everyone is able to create good content with all the tools accessible. But there are pros and cons of course! I use Instagram mostly as a platform to show my work. I can reach so many people easily in a short time so it’s really useful for me. It’s a great tool for work but at the same time, I’m also trying to be more distant from it.
I know this isn’t the most exciting question, but where do you see yourself in five or ten years? Do you have any outstanding goals that you’re shooting towards?
I’m always looking to the future – putting all of my energy into creating projects with interesting people, and bringing forth something fresh and exciting to share with everyone. I want to further my career, travel and see my company grow.
How did you meet Laura Reuss?
Around three or four years ago on set for a TV commercial. After that, we met several times out at parties and quickly became friends. Ever since then we realized we were quite similar. We once went to the hairdresser together and got the same haircut. We just looked the same. Same height, same type kind of, same sense of humour.
Do you feel inspired by people you connect with in your everyday life?
I feel inspired by the ones who talk without boundaries.
What is it like working with friends? Do you find it difficult, for example, to direct someone you have a personal relationship with?
I think mostly it’s an overwhelmingly positive thing. You can be free to trade ideas and just say whatever comes to your mind. There is no filter for our ideas or opinions. For the most part, it’s a positive thing and then there’s a rare time when it just doesn’t work, and you have to learn from that.
What is it like working with Laura? (Keeping in mind, of course, that she might read this haha)
I absolutely love working with Laura because I can act completely freely around her and she always has the right attitude and understands what I’m trying to achieve. It’s always fun with her and still professional to accomplish whatever goals we’ve set out. I love her Ghetto attitude. She’s Ghetto Laura.
Do you think you and Laura have similar goals with your work and life in general?
Definitely, that’s why our connection grew so strongly. We are similar in character, we value kindness and honesty in human beings most of all. We share the same mindset about our future and we grow together through collaborations.
We have a lot of similarities in expectations, value and how to treat people around you. That’s what I appreciate most.
What’s your advice to women in creative industries?
To really keep on going and speak out because no one else will do it for you. Don’t let yourself be distracted by a negative mindset. Clear your mind, always continue and believe that your hard work will bring you something every time, even when you fail (maybe the best lessons ever). Gather honest and trustworthy people around you, open your mind, and learn from your experiences.