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Women Making History: Andrea Sonnenberg, Teen Witch

Photographer/life documentarian Andrea Sonnenberg, a.k.a. Teen Witch, brings her native San Francisco to the forefront of her work. Her images capture the youth culture of the city in gritty, rare and often hilarious ways. Her work has been shown at MOCA and at a solo show at FIFTY24SF called My So Called Life. We got to ask her about her process and representing her hometown San Francisco in her work:

1. What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?

Nan Goldin is a huge inspiration to me.

2. How did you get your start as a photographer?

My fellow photographer and friend Sandy Kim got me really into taking photos, back when she lived in S.F.

3. What’s your favorite photograph that you’ve shot?

Wow. I think my dog high five photo best represents my photos as a whole and overall outlook on my life in general. It’s such a mystical happy shot and that day in particular was a crazy and weird 24 hours spent at the haunted Brookedale Lodge in the Santa Cruz mountains.

4. I love the way you document life. How did you develop your signature style?

I take photos of my friends and the people in my life who I surround myself with> the energy that you see in my photos is real. I simply take photos of situations that arise around me and I think because of who I am and the life I lead, it creates these photos that are unlike others.

5. What kind of camera do you shoot with?

Right now I just recently got a Yashica T4 but I find that any camera will do. I have been shooting mostly on Olympus Stylus cameras and even disposables for years now.

6. You are from San Francisco and still based here. How does San Francisco inspire your photography?

I would love to move around the country and be able to live in different cities, but also I find my style of photography very representing of San Francisco. There aren’t many photographers willing to hold it down for this city, believing that fame or money lies in other places. I just want to represent San Francisco and to show the world the amazing people I grew up with and live with here in this city and how weird and unique this place is.

7. Do you feel the photography/art game is a boy’s club? If so, what did you do to overcome that obstacle?

I think it is somewhat a boy’s club, but I grew up with all boys in my family and mostly boys as friends so I didn’t feel like I had to overcome anything.

8. Your work was in MOCA’s 2010 Art In the Streets retrospective and you had a solo show at FIFTY24SF. How did these shows come about? How does it feel to see your works in a museum and gallery?

Seeing my photos in a museum and up in a gallery space is absolutely amazing, the people that I have met through the MOCA have changed my life. Hand-printing photos is what I love to do, so to see my hard work up and framed is amazing.

9. Who do you want to work with?

I would love to work with magazines. My dream would be to travel and go on assignments, take photos of bands and go on tour. Having photos in Thrasher magazine would be ultimate. I’m pretty good at partying and being paid to party sounds like the best. hahah

10. What part of photography is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?

The cost of film and developing, and the competitive side of it all bums me out.

11. Any advice for ladies who are just starting out as photographers?

Just don’t stop, and avoid technology.

Check out Teen Witch photography on flickr.

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