The photographer Lea (lafillelea) has already shot three series for us. She inspires us not only with her photographs but also with her work in a feminist collective, her commitment against sexism on Instagram and a strong opinion. Lea tells us about her life, reveals her opinion on sustainable fashion and shares her favorite places in Berlin.
In my spare time, I devote most of it to my work in our feminist collective Stimmrecht gegen Unrecht.
What are you doing right now?
Always everything at once and sometimes much too much. I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Studies last year and am now studying Social and Business Communication at the Universität der Künste. I also work at Rbb for the youth format Safe.Space, which aims to sensitize a young, female target group for body & mental health issues. In my free time, I dedicate most of my time to my work in our feminist collective Stimmrecht gegen Unrecht. In the last years, this has changed from a kind of hobby to a real passion, which gives me a lot.
Shots from Lea’s night photoshooting in Berlin – Click on the images to go to Malimo products
How do you live out your creativity?
Most often (surprisingly) by photographing, but also by writing. I could not do without both. Photography is always very impulsive, fast and, since I like to take documentary photos, also rather unplanned. My small analogue camera is always with me and is quickly used in different situations. Writing is a little different, but I often take my time for it, because sometimes it takes time and peace to write down things that buzz around in your head. Often I celebrate this properly and sit down in the park or a café for two hours and then just write.
How do you see the job of a photographer?
I think it can be very exhausting. I earn my money also through other side jobs, but I know many experiences from friends, who work full-time as a photographer. As with many other jobs, you sometimes have to subordinate your own creative vision to certain authorities, which can take a lot of energy. At the same time, it is a great privilege to be able to earn money with your passion and there are many exciting people in the environment that you wouldn’t meet otherwise. As a woman, however, things are even harder in the industry. The gender pay gap does not stop at the creative scene and gender-specific power relations also play a serious role in the creative scene and the fashion industry.
As a woman, it is even harder in the photography business. The gender pay gap does not stop at the creative scene.
How would you describe your style?
A mix of classic vintage pieces, the need to indulge in the Berlin “all black everything” cliché every now and then and, as of this year, finally colors, colors, colors! It took me forever to get a taste for patterns, but this summer I celebrated it very much. And stains, due to my motor skills and my full physical effort while eating, can always be found on all my clothes.
What does fashion mean to you?
I can’t answer that clearly. I am sometimes stressed by the claim that fashion should be a reflection of your character – some days I just don’t feel it. Especially in summer, I realize how fashion can mean empowerment on the one hand, but also uncertainty on the other. There are days when I feel so good in my dresses and shorts and then again there are moments when the catcalling of men annoys me so much that I feel uncomfortable and think about wearing long pants. But with age, this becomes less and less and this year after every catcall the dresses became even shorter.
My wish is that we make the fashion industry sustainable and accessible to everyone.
What are your wishes for the future of the fashion industry?
A less dogmatic division into “good” and “bad” and awareness that fashion and clothing are always a class issue. I find the FFF [Fridays for Future] movement super impressive, and it’s great that the number of sustainable fashion labels is growing. But for me, it’s not possible to shame people who are precariously employed to continue shopping at not sustainable fashion chains. I hope that we can make the fashion industry sustainable for everyone and that we understand that fashion is also a complex topic and must be put into context with many other socially relevant issues.
Lea in a self-portrait series with her unique upcycling bomber jacket
How long have you lived in Berlin and what do you like about it?
Berlin and I had our fifth anniversary this year! What I love most is the vastness here. I know that this is exactly what many people are put off by, but it gives me a feeling of freedom. On days when the ceiling falls on my head, I cycle across the city for 45 minutes and can just switch off without having to leave Berlin.
Moreover, anonymity inspires me. You can let yourself go completely one day, put on the craziest clothes and the next day nobody will remember it. Then you dive down and can start fresh. I also find the different districts just as inspiring. Sometimes you get the feeling that Berlin consists of small mini-cities and everywhere there is something different waiting for you. But you are also seen/read differently.
What are your favourite places in Berlin?
Definitely the Flak Tower in Humboldthain – one of the best spots to watch the sunset. Actually, I’m also a bit sad that the time in the Grimm Center on Friedrichstraße and the café at the Humboldt University is over. There I spent my last four summers with very good friends, drinking a lot of oat cappuccino and eating mediocre vegetable burgers while we fought our way through the homework and bachelor thesis jungle. Apart from that, I love to cycle along the Straße des 17. Juni in the direction of the Siegessäule in the evening or to walk through Rehberge Park early in the morning. You can get the best wine in the Durjardin in various bars around the Maybachufer and the best vegan duck in peanut sauce is on the Greifswalderstraße.