Ilka & Franz
Ilka & Franz are a London-based duo that specialize in transforming the mundane into the eccentric. By meticulously setting up each photograph in the studio, we are given a deeper look into the spine of the human condition. Whether it's a hand holding a towel, a heart shaped potato chip, or a look at the relation between porn and sexual violence, Ilka & Franz are two inventive spirits.
DAUGHTER RUNS: Why did you decide to become a duo?
Ilka: I think to this day our skills and experiences and the ways in which we work are quite different but really compliment each other. That’s why it makes sense to be a team. Plus, it’s less lonely and we can share the burdens that come with photography like colour profiles, sweeping the studio floor… oh and the unsteady income. But of course in the beginning we didn’t think it through like that. Franz had a crush on me so he asked me if he could help me with a portrait shoot of a friend. He had lots of equipment and access to a studio so we started shooting all our friends and that’s basically how it all started.
DAUGHTER RUNS: What kinds of special experiences come about from photographing together?
Franz: It’s definitely a special experience for our subjects. Our portraits are quite meticulous and we direct our models with a lot of precision. So with directions for tiny movements coming from both of us and both of us whizzing around changing the light, pulling clothes and aligning props while the model mustn’t move, I sometimes think it all resembles a crazy yoga exercise to train both spine and patience.
DAUGHTER RUNS: What is the process like when setting up one of your shots?
Franz: Our photography is not at all snappy so for each of our shots we know beforehand how we want it to look. It often starts with a simple idea or even a prop that we found somewhere and that is followed by model casting, styling, the shoot of course and post-production.
DAUGHTER RUNS: Do you photograph for yourself or for others?
Ilka: We do a lot of personal work but photography is also our career so we shoot for advertising agencies, magazines, companies and charities.
DAUGHTER RUNS: Your portraits are very consistent, though obviously varying in subject. How do you choose which props and colors to use in each photograph?
Ilka: Mostly the props come to us. A good example is our new shot “Pizza Anyone?” – we literally stumbled over this hilarious pizza banana at a festival in Germany this summer. Or the heart-shaped crisp in “Crispy Love”, which I was lucky enough to have in my bag of Walker’s Prawn Cocktail crisps.
DAUGHTER RUNS: Who do you continuously find yourself looking to for inspiration?
Ilka: I want to say that I am most inspired when I don’t look anywhere; searching for inspiration definitely doesn’t work… I’m quite an internet junkie so I guess that and my daily walk to the shop to get ice cream inspire me.
Franz: I can’t say where they come from but at the moment we always have more ideas than there is time to realise them all. So no more inspiration for me for now please.
DAUGHTER RUNS: In a few of your conceptual photographs, you shot close ups of the human form. What did you intend on portraying through these?
Franz: We did the close-up series with the dark skin first and that one is all about yoga poses. We wanted to find an unusual and abstract way of shooting something sports related. We ended up being fascinated by the structure of the skin more than the yoga element so we decided to do another project where we wanted to look at aged skin – this is the pink and green foot, hand and shoulder.
Ilka: Interesting is that the age of the model really only shows in the shot of the back of her hand. What also makes this series special to me is that the model was a survivor of skin cancer and looked at the shoot as an opportunity to celebrate her skin and she was really proud and without inhibitions.
DAUGHTER RUNS: Do you think environment plays a large role in creativity and ambition?
Ilka: Yes, I really think that London, like other big cities, helps creative people achieve more. One is constantly surrounded by other creatives, subcultures and trends – all that is inspiring. And of course the pressure is quite high to make it in order to afford life here.
DAUGHTER RUNS: What decade or time period are you most often inspired by?
Ilka: I have developed a nostalgia for the 90s but I can’t say our work is much influenced by that, or any other decade.
Franz: Right now 2015 inspires me a lot.
DAUGHTER RUNS: Last film you watched?
Ilka: Dead Man ♡ ♡ ♡
DAUGHTER RUNS: What does “Daughter Runs” mean to you?
Ilka: I discovered Daughter Runs on Instagram and really like the featured artists so for me it’s definitely an important part of the inspiration provider that is the internet. I also love the event recommendations and wish there was a London/ UK section of it!