How do you find the people you photograph?
"It's a mixture of planning and coincidence. For my project on Germany's last coal mine, for example, the company allowed me to walk around and meet people, and I found others through miners' cultural associations. On a road trip, however, I often meet people by accident. If I'm following a feeling, I seem to attract more people to photograph."
Do you know what a project is going to be about before you start? Or does it develop gradually?
"Some stories are as I expect, such as the one on Covid-19, but most of the time projects change a lot from the way they begin. On my current project, for instance, I went on a road trip to photograph people in a certain area but by coincidence ended up in another place and community, so it became a completely different project."
How long do you normally work on a project?
"It totally depends on the subject, but I'm not a person who could work on something for many years. I'm not sure I would have the patience to do that. When I come to a new place, I see so much, but after a while I see less and new pictures appear more slowly."
How can documentary photographers stand out from the crowd?
"For me it was important to have a solid portfolio – at least two bodies of work you can show to editors and use to apply for competitions and grants. Even if you don't win, the same important people such as picture editors are sitting on so many juries. If they continue to see your work there's a chance they will commission you."
What's been the highlight of your career so far?
"Career-wise, it was very unexpected and a blessing to become a Magnum nominee in 2019. I still can't really believe it and I'm super happy about it."