[Remmy.] What's up bro bro! Man it's been some time! How have you been? I know I haven't gotten the chance to personally reach out to you as much as I'd like to but your support and efforts never go unnoticed and much love for all that you do and show. You wouldn't believe the number of people that have credited you with finding us. That's Love. Really appreciate it!...But man, re-introduce yourself a bit because you were the first interview/blog we ever did. That's about over a year ago now and so much has changed.
[TESSI S.] I’m all good Rem, hope you’re doing well yourself brother. Makes me so happy to hear man, UG is definitely doing all the right things for the creative community and definitely a movement more people need to be exposed to, so I’m glad I can help where I can , especially because UG has done so much for me.
For those who don't already know me, I am a 22 year freelance photographer based in South Africa and occasionally Vienna, Austria. I have changed a lot in the past year in good and bad ways but of course, all of that is just part of your personal growth but I have been extremely focused on trying to expand my versatility as a photographer by trying out some music (live performance) photography, and also assisting in my first wedding which I would say was a success and i can’t wait to share some of these. My photography is very heavily centered around typical landscape travel photography and portraiture and definitely my two favorite aspects of the art form.
[Remmy.] So since last time, you came to the US and actually and linked up with some of the other UG creatives. How was that? From what I saw in pics and snaps man that shit was just crazy to witness. Like the vibes of just seeing everything in my head come to fruition through what you were doing; Reaching out to other UG people and just meeting them in the different cities and states you visited. Are you coming back stateside anytime soon?
[TESSI S.] Yes all of that was so crazy to me! Most of the support that I get for my work comes from a lot of people that live in The States so being able to meet those people on and off the team was a very cool experience and they were for sure the reason I fell in love with the place. Also meeting some of the photographers that inspired me was extremely humbling like Iggy and Pedro (Aim.os). The first dude i met there was actually Adam in LA and I think we were both there for the first time (maybe not) but regardless being able to explore the city with him and us getting to know each other was dope and I hope I get to meet him again, he is a very humble and down to Earth guy. Most of the artists I met in The States had a very charismatic and positive energy about them we all liked to have fun doing the same thing which is just exploring, taking photos and just generally enjoying the simpler things which is something I don't really get to experience too often, as i usually kinda do those things alone unless it’s with a model obviously. I really do hope and plan i get back to the states soon as there are a number of people i think i have to still meet that side
[Remmy.] Your craft and overall I think vision of yourself has grown dramatically since the last time we've linked bro. So what is the vision now or do you think you're just further along the path now?
[TESSI S.] Oh yeah for sure. I think i have gotten to a very good place with how i view and understand the whole industry and the craft. Anyone that just starts photography has a very idealistic point of view of what to expect. Of course a lot of us have an undying passion for photography but under all of that its all driven by little things like maybe having a small goal to gain followers, and potentially other things. I've definitely grown from having social media being prioritised to genuinely only caring about my work being good, and me being able to make sure that my hobby is sustainable. With that being said I've also matured into understanding a little more about all the stresses that come with making a hobby sustainable and working towards trying to make it move forward, its hard and sometimes really does eat away at the creativity and love you have towards your craft but it comes with the territory. In terms of the vision I have for myself Im at a point where i'm not very sure anymore and that's also okay, i'm taking more time to REALLY think about what i want when its all said and done.
[Remmy.] So what's it like to chat with so many US based people online? Like the cultures are so drastically different where you're at. I know we've talked about it a couple of times; but like the political scene is just one major difference. Give me some quick perspective of what the US looks like from where you are right now? I know we're not painting the best picture to the world of who we REALLY are right now due to our current, umm, i even hate to use the word....but leadership.
[TESSI S.] I mean all the creatives I talk to and interact with everyday in the US are much more like-minded than most people i know so its always good to stop out of my “discomfort”-zone and be able to more more like my CREATIVE self i should say. As a dude who has an opportunity to travel quite a bit I am super observant about the subtle differences in small cultures. Like for example how taboo drinking is in American culture by a lot of people and how it's pretty a part of everyday life in German/Austria culture. Americans tend to be a lot more opinionated on what they believe is “right” and “wrong” and tend to be more “radical” or headstrong when it comes to acknowledging the fact that these perspectives are not really black and white but it really does depend on where you are from and the individuals of course, whereas Europeans are a bit more conservative in expressing their opinions on social norms as opposed to Americans. I'm in no position to say who views the world in a better light because at the end of the day anything that isn't a “universal” or scientific law is really a matter of perspective.
I am not the best person to ask about world political views so i can only speak for myself and what i see, and that makes it hard to explain how the world views America, but obviously a lot of the more prominent issues America seems to be having such as gun violence, and race, or even politically seem to be issues that are very unique to America, which is why a lot of people from other countries tend to be very vocal about how they believe American authorities should be dealing with them. America, culturally, is so dramatically different from the rest of the world that this very question can be very polarising in terms of what you would get from me and another non American. I know this is a very neutral answer and that may not be the answer you’re looking for haha, but im trying to be more observant than opinionated.
[Remmy.] So what's next for you man? Where's Tessi headed on this freelance journey...
[TESSI S.] To be honest with you man I really don't know. I have had a lot of bumps on the road this year which really took me out of my creative space, and that's kind of slowed down my progress, so i honestly felt like it was best to put everything on hold and deal with whatever situation has been putting me in the slump I'm in. Other than that, in the grand scheme of things, I’m really just enjoying the process and watching my improvements over the years and just waiting to see where that takes me. I'm in school right now so i am in absolutely no rush to “make” something of my art and just enjoy it for the time being really. Its opened up a lot of opportunities for me purely in terms of just being able to experience different aspects of life in general while also meeting amazing people from different corners of the globe, thats something im really not trying to take for granted at all. Regardless of where this all takes me I'm just extremely happy for everything the craft has done for me thus far, and i'm only looking to keep improve.
[Remmy.] What's something you'd like to see UG do more of or in the future do? There's a lot in the pipeline to come but it's crazy how i rarely here feedback or any constructive criticism haha. I'm like well I guess i'll just keep trucking along at the grind and if I fuck up, someone will def let me know. that's one thing I've come to know; people usually won't clap for you, but they'll definitely be quick to call you out if you mess up.
[TESSI S.] I understand why that might be weird, but I've really never thought about it haha, UG has done so much and definitely exposed to a completely new demographic, I cant help but think you are doing everything right, but of course there is always room for improvement no matter what you do. However a lot of people evidently chose not to see all the progresses you made in and out of a creative field. Like you said people are quick to pass non-constructive judgement exclusively on every misstep you take. I've found myself surrounded by a lot of people who try to see me in such light and I've pretty much stopped trying to control how people choose to see me and really just do my own thing. I got my best friends on opposite sides of globe who will always tell me whats up. UG is a perfect platform and community for artists of all walks to be unapologetically themselves and that's all it needs to be in my eyes. I don't want to put such a good platform in a box.
[Remmy.] Well you know us by now bro, so leave me with one of your powerful quotes...
[TESSI S.] Hmmm, thats a tough one. If I was going to choose a quote from one person I would definitely choose one from someone who definitely inspires me every single time he speaks, Gary Vaynerchuk. “If you live for weekends, and vacations, your sh*t is broken”. That quote specifically is one i have thought about for a long time and is one I feel makes a very significant point. Often we find ourselves going through the motions, wasting and taking for granted 5 days of the week, yearning for the weekend to come. That way of living is very detrimental to things we may want to achieve in future. True living should come from us doing things with our lives that gets us pumped to wake up every single day, THAT'S when you’ve found your calling and have put yourself on the right path to really achieve something special, instead of just going through the motions.