Kerstin Hiestermann: Of Monsters and Magic
Kerstin Hiestermann introduces Supriya Joshi to her little monsters while capturing their funny antics with her cellphone.
This article was originally published in May 2014.
The first time I scrolled through Kerstin Hiestermann’s profile on Instagram, I was transported back to my childhood. The images I saw reminded me of the illustrations of Quentin Blake, who would draw for Roald Dahl’s stories. Full of whimsy and wonder, Kerstin combines illustrations with real life subjects for magical results.
An Idea Emerges
“What really sparked off my current project was when I was photographing a box of strawberries with one berry missing in the middle,” she says.
She placed the box on a sheet of white paper and took a picture. “All of a sudden, a vision popped into my head. I imagined a little cheeky figure robbing one of the strawberries and innocently saying afterwards, “I didn’t do it!””
“I tried a few things, drew a couple of simple figures, gave it long ears and added two little horns on his head, and voilà, a little monster was created.” She christened the project as #khiesti_littlemoster.
Trial and Error
Kerstin does not have a particular formula for making these photographs, because the images are not created in the same way. “Sometimes I see something and straight away I have an association which I can put down on paper there and then. Other times I see something and know that I want to incorporate it in a picture, but I do not have the overall photo in my head, so I try out various things out to create the shot.”
The Making Of
After she finishes drawing and arranging the subjects on a white sheet of paper, Kerstin photographs them using an iPhone 4S. “I really like the handmade character the iPhone adds to my shots. With my cellphone, I have everything I need in the palm of my hand. I adore mobile photography, simply because it’s somehow authentic and non perfect. It is giving me endless opportunities at the same time,” she says.
Initially, she would use natural light, but has recently invested in a softbox to illuminate the frame.
Creating from Imagination
But, how did her vision develop? “I have learned that the way I am, how I see a world around me that’s not really there, started when I was a child. But the things that are not real in real life are very real in my head. I have learned that I can create tiny fantasy worlds by utilising my inner eye. Within my pictures I can make those worlds visible.”
Kerstin will not stop shooting till she thinks she has the perfect shot, even if it takes hours of drawing or arranging the subjects around the paper. “Most of the time I ask my husband to take a final look at the shot . He’s my final quality check.”
Creating an Identity
In Kerstin’s images, the little monsters sort of become an extension of human behaviour and expressions. “They are very friendly, but can be cheeky sometimes. They loves all things nice and making sure that it’s not left behind. For example, if there is homemade ice cream, you can be sure they coming around with a spoon fairly quick!” she says.
While Kerstin’s little monsters are always up to some adventures, I wondered if they will ever hang up their shoes and retire. “I can’t see an end to this project,” says Kerstin, “As long as I have ideas and fun I will be creating pictures. And I really hope it’s going to go on for a long time.”
Want to Begin a Similar Project of Your Own?
• Less is More: An interesting object, enhanced with a few smart sketches can have a lot more to say than a pictures that is overloaded with drawings and objects alike.
• Be Nostalgic: Remember all the happy memories from your childhood and the things that made you smile. Not only will this give you more ideas, you will also work in a more cheerful state of mind.
• Go All Out: There are no limits to your creativity while working on a similar project. Do not be afraid to experiment. Employ various media like paints, fabrics, toys… the possibilities are endless!
About Kerstin Hiestermann
She is a teacher from Germany and a mother of three. She watermarks her images with the word ‘spielkkind.’ “Spielkkind is wordplay containing the German word ‘spielkind’ which means playing child. I just added an extra ‘k’ for my first name Kerstin,” she said.
Find Kristen Here: