Ritsch Sisters x NAOMI NOMI

Sister photographers, Anna and Maria Ritsch, slipped into some Shadow Sets and set their lenses on midtown and each other. We nabbed them to ask some questions about their life, work, etc.

NAOMI NOMI: How did you both get into photography?

Anna Ritsch: Growing up, cameras and photos were always around us in some way. Maybe our Grandma subconsciously influenced us as she always walked around with a point-and-shoot camera documenting family, trips, and life around her as a form of preserving memory. When I was around 11, I started to set up and stage little photoshoots with my sister and my cousins, dressing them up and posing them. So in a way, my sister Maria was part of it from the beginning. After high school, I went to Vienna to study photography. I liked the camera as a tool to connect with people, wonder, and observe.

Maria Ritsch: As Anna mentioned already, my photography began with being in front of the lens. Inspired by the way Anna staged and photographed me, I started to photograph my friends later on as a teenager. Anna would always pass her old cameras on to me. It wasn’t until later on when I went to art school, that I started to get more serious about photography.

Ritsch Sisters: Although we always sort of worked together, it took us some years to start our collaboration project, Ritsch Sisters, and to find new ways to create together.

NAOMI NOMI: Who/what inspires you when you’re making images?

Ritsch Sisters: Inspiration always depends on the type of images we are creating. What is important to us is being present and connecting to our subject and surroundings. Pay attention to the little details and moments in daily life that spark an idea.

Pay attention to the little details and moments in daily life that spark an idea.
NAOMI NOMI: Is photography the only medium you work in? If not, what else do you make?

Ritsch Sisters: In addition to photography, we also experiment with different media like sound, video, performance, and site-specific Installation.

NAOMI NOMI: If you could have a studio visit with three artists/photographers (dead or alive), who would they be?

Ritsch Sisters: Isamu Noguchi, Martha Graham, and Wolfgang Tillmans.

NAOMI NOMI: Tell us a little about the NAOMI NOMI images you made. Where are you in these images? What were you doing? Do you go there often? What are you usually up to in those spaces?

Ritsch Sisters: We wandered around Midtown, photographing each other surrounded by iconic New York City buildings that reminded us of the print of the NAOMI NOMI Shadow Set. Midtown is not a place we go to all the time, but it is quite fascinating. Look up, and you’ll see all these amazing buildings with unique architecture and consistent patterns and shapes.

NAOMI NOMI: Let’s talk about New York City. Anna, where were you before, and what brought you here? How has the city changed your work? Maria, how often do you visit New York? How is making work in New York different from Vienna?

Anna Ritsch: While studying photography in Vienna, I came to New York for a 3-month internship at a photographer’s studio, and I am still here. New York definitely expanded my way of seeing and experiencing life, and in that way, it influenced and is still influencing my work. You have to keep moving in all parts of life here, and it forces you to constantly look at your work in new ways.

Maria Ritsch: I try to visit New York at least once a year, but since Anna and I started collaborating, it’s become increasingly more frequent. New York has so many facets. There are so many things to observe that are new to my eyes. On the one hand, it’s really inspiring and nourishing, but on the other, it can get quite overwhelming. Vienna feels quieter to me, which makes it easier to focus and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

NAOMI NOMI: What was it like to turn the camera on your sister? On yourself?

Maria Ritsch: It’s interesting to turn the camera on my sister, as she’s usually the one photographing me. Anna doesn’t really like to be photographed, so you’ve got to catch her in a good moment where she feels comfortable and at ease. It was fun to photograph each other in the mirrors and point the cameras at each other to capture our counterpart's perspective.

Anna Ritsch: Turning the camera on Maria felt very natural to me. I’ve been doing it since we were kids, so it’s a dynamic we’re both very used to. I think it was a bit more challenging for Maria to take photos of me, as I prefer to be behind the camera. It was fun to play around with new ways of photographing each other.
NAOMI NOMI: Tell us a bit more about your collaborations. Do you take photos of each other often? How do you work together differently than when you work apart?

Ritsch Sisters: It’s only recently that we’ve started photographing each other on the regular. Typically, our collaborations involve working on projects where we are not the image's main subject. We’re currently working on an ongoing series called ‘Together Apart,’ where we bring our individual photographs together, creating new poetic dialogues where the individual authorship takes a backseat. We have long Zoom and WhatsApp calls, sharing screens so we can work and edit simultaneously. Sometimes it’s a challenge to find a balance between the individual and the collaborative work, the artistic and the commissioned work.
NAOMI NOMI: What was your favorite NAOMI NOMI piece to photograph and/or wear, and why?

Ritsch Sisters: The sheer black fabric of the Shadow Set is so light, airy, and comfortable. The Studio Shirt and Wrap Skirt are particularly nice for hot New York City summer weather, like the 96°F day we shot in Midtown. Playing with sheerness and the pattern of the fabric was super interesting when photographing it.

NAOMI NOMI: Is there anything else you’d want the ladies of NAOMI NOMI to know about you and/or your images?

Ritsch Sisters: We are always excited to explore new projects, collaborations, and possibilities. Our aim is to create intimate and timeless imagery people can relate to, connect with, and be inspired by.

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