Lotte Thor

Lotte Thor

Photographer

From Anthropology to Art:

Lotte Thor's Evolution as a Photographer.

“To thine own self be true”, one of the most important things for a fulfilling life!

Lotte, a Norwegian photographer based in Berlin, has a diverse background shaped by childhood travels through England, Sweden, and Norway. With a master's degree in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics, she found fulfilment behind the camera. Combining her experiences as a model, stylist, and fashion editor, Lotte brings a unique perspective to her photography.

 

Inspired by her love for music, she began capturing portraits of friends and musicians, eventually transitioning into the fashion and beauty industry. Her photography style is predominantly analogue, with a penchant for experimenting with long exposures to evoke abstract moods and emotions.

Lotte Thor
Lotte Thor

Hi Lotte, can you share with us how your nomadic childhood shaped your curiosity for different cultures and ultimately influenced your decision to study Social Anthropology?

I was born in Germany, in Mönchengladbach of all places. Then my dad's work took us to England for 8 years, where I spent most of my childhood.  After this we moved to Norway, and I attended international school – with students from all over the world. I was fortunate to travel a lot as a kid. I just felt connected to and curious about different cultures out there. I wasn’t particularly rooted in my home country, I was curious about it all – all the different cultural quirks of humanity. How we are so different, but also there’s certain fundamental traits that we all share. So this background definitely influenced my decision to study for a masters in anthropology, to dig deeper into this.

What motivated your transition from Social Anthropology to photography, and how has your academic background informed your approach to photography?

I always had a deep yearning to create. I always loved drawing and image making. In the end, I had to follow my heart. “To thine own self be true”, one of the most important things for a fulfilling life! I think if you are a creative person and you deny yourself that path, you might feel like something crucial is missing. When I initially went down the academic route in my studies, deep down I knew I would have to find creative work to feel happy. However, studying anthropology gave me a solid foundation and insights into the human condition that I’m very thankful to have with me in photography. Anthropology is essentially the study of what makes us human, showing us general truths through the study of the very specific. Acknowledging “Self” vs “Other”, investigating the world of “Othe other”. Likewise, a good photographer investigates the other, and can capture that moment where the subject is being themselves, projecting an honesty and vulnerability in their expression that can sometimes say more than a thousand words.

Studying anthropology gave me a solid foundation and insights into the human condition that I’m very thankful to have with me in photography.

Lotte Thor

What does rebirth mean to you? Do you think we will soon experience one from a social point of view?

Rebirth, to me, means, going through the fire holding it down in tough times, and emerging on the other side as a changed person (or society), wiser and with new insights. “The wound is the place where the light enters” - is a favourite Rumi quote. I hope we are in store for a societal rebirth soon.

We understand that music has been a significant influence in your life. How has your passion for music translated into your photography, particularly in your portraits of friends and musicians?

Music is always present in my life. These days, I’m a big jazz and ambient lover. Keith Jarrett is possibly the one that’s stuck with me the longest over time. The Sun Bear Concert from Osaka is my most listened to piece of music, ever :)  Please check it out! It’s so, so beautiful. Being a Berliner, electronic music – house and techno – are also rhythms that reverberate close to my heart. My partner, Arno, is a producer and DJ, and many of our friends are also in the industry. So shooting with musicians is something I love to do. Also actors and artists! It’s amazing to shoot with characters.

Lotte Thor
Lotte Thor

What are the key elements you focus on to tell a compelling story through your photography?

Complex question because it’s all the elements coming together. But for me, it’s a lot about expressions and body language. This has to be candid and authentic or on the other end of the spectrum, overtly theatrical. I like to get all my stylistic elements in place and then focus on getting a performance out of the subject, or better yet, real reactions. And, I love contrast. Things that shouldn’t really go together and therefore surprise you. Like putting a ridiculously gorgeous model in a pretty harsh sunlight. I’m always trying to find a balance.

Youve mentioned that you enjoy experimenting with the medium of photography itself. Can you share an example of a particularly experimental technique you've used and the effect it had on the final image?

I’m a big fan of long exposures. Particularly on analogue film. The sweeping grain and the unpredictability of the outcome is very exciting to me. I love to add the element of time into a photograph – rather than freeze time, to portray time in the image. It gives it another dimension and also abstracts in a beautiful way.

Rebirth, to me, means going through the fire.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals within the realms of portraiture and fashion photography, and how do you envision your artistic journey evolving in the future?

I will aim to keep pushing for authentic expressions, connecting with my subjects, and exploring experimental techniques. I aim to feel creatively fulfilled and at the same time make a living from what I love to do and it’s all about the balance between these two polarities. I also love to push for creative outcomes in the commercial sphere. That’s very satisfying when it works.