Diana Scheunemann

Naked Truth of an Ideal World

Diana Scheunemann’s photography is alive with sensuality and emotion. She was born in 1975 in Germany and educated in Switzerland. Scheunemann has since spent a decade travelling and capturing the scenes from her life with provocative honesty. Her instinctive desire to pursue photography has taken her across the globe in search of stimulating imagery.

Diana Scheunemann is in demand for countless advertising and editorial campaigns, as well as celebrity portraits, which has led some to view her as the female Rankin. In the prologue of her new book, Freedom in Flashes, Rankin said, “I love Diana’s work, if I was female, I’d take pictures like hers.” Her most interesting pieces are the portrayals of her private life, and she retains an unparalleled intimacy with her subjects saying: “My work is very autobiographical.” Building up a rapport and having intimate knowledge of her subjects allows her to explore various possibilities; sometimes tragic, but often uplifting and comic images emerge. Scheunemann’s familiarity with her subjects was established at an early age: “I vividly remember the first picture that I ever took of my mother in the bathroom when I was eight.”

She is the author of three books, Ambisexual (2001) and Diana Scheunemann (2005). Scheunemann’s latest publication, Freedom in Flashes, which came out 15 November 2007, is a thought-provoking and engaging collection that exudes style. Making Wales appear tropical and exotic, Scheunemann shot the entire collection on location. The four models who feature throughout the collection, flourish with ceaseless energy and enjoyment that Scheunemann brings to the vast majority of her work. PJ Norman says in the book’s foreword; “The experience blurred the line between fantasy and reality, where each photograph became a window into the immortal world of Neverland and the wonderful mind of Diana Scheunemann.”

Scheunemann’s main aspiration in Freedom in Flashes was to re-create: “An ideal beautiful world in which they do not have problems.”Her photography frequently reflects her desire to explore the boundaries of gender and intimacy. She is conscious that this dynamic is an integral part of individual development: “Eroticism is a big part of life — that’s why we’re here in the first place.” Although passionate imagery thrives in her photography, it is refreshingly presented with an innocuous style. Freedom in Flashes presents the viewer with a glimpse of pure youthful sexuality, through a playful tongue-in-cheek approach to an often-overexposed genre.

Freedom in Flashes was designed to portray the escapist fantasy of past pleasures. “The older you get, the more responsibility you have. It’s an idealistic world — when you’re young, life is free, of course there are still problems, but the problems are not prevalent.” Taking photos of friends in intimate situations allows for a deeper connection and builds on the trust that already exists with someone significant in your life. Scheunemann enthuses: “Nudity is a freeing experience, you can feel like a child again.”

Scheunemann’s spontaneous style generates an unusually idyllic view, which demonstrates her skill and experience from the flawless world of fashion photography. Citing her “Exotic and, at times, extreme lifestyle” as an influence for her work, Scheunemann’s talent for photography developed naturally: “I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else.”

Scheunemann’s trademark style creates an atmosphere that is both relaxed and professional. Erotic imagery is ever-present in Scheunemann’s work, yet the utopian nature of Freedom in Flashes reminds the viewer that it is an idealised representation of youthful sexuality. As Stuart Phillips from AND Production notes, “Diana Scheunemann’s images capture the raw, fresh, innocent, experimental attitude of youth. Her vibrant, fun ‘do what you want’ images make me yearn for longer summers with friends. Diana has the great talent of making the camera a part of the conversation, the joke, the fore-play, so your enjoyment is involved rather than voyeuristic.”

Scheunemann has numerous ventures on the horizon, including a decade long project entitled Behind My Face. The project is a photo-diary that was originally conceived in 1999. Scheunemann’s aims for Behind My Face are to document every day of her life through self-portraiture with an eventual expansion into filmmaking.

Diana Scheunemann certainly lives with the same ruthless abandon with which she shoots her photographs. “I want to write the book of my life as the most exciting thing to read.” Scheunemann’s work will continue to explore the inherently personal themes that have been the driving force behind her work for the past decade. Her uncompromising approach to visual arts encourages viewers to question the boundaries between utopia and reality.

Freedom in Flashes was published by Honigherz, ISBN 978-3-033-01174-8, www.dianascheunemann.com.

Alice Roberts