We are very pleased to profile one of our favourite creative contributors, Mareike von Engelbrechten. Mareike has been with Sooq Central since our launch three years ago and was one of our first women photographers selling photographic prints. She has shared her various passions in photography covering subjects, from nature, to animals, people and street life. Inspired by her own experiences and themes common to many others, her work is highly popular.
The intrigue and joy created in Mareike’s images draws you in, while apparently common place, her eye for the unique or special adds deeper insights into the subjects she covers. Her layering and richness of ideas no doubt reflects the fact that she has had a diverse and interesting life. German by birth, her childhood was spent growing up on an apple farm in Ireland, known as the ‘Emerald Isle’. Here there is much unspoilt countryside and wild coastline to capture the imagination. Although a long time resident of Hong Kong, she still calls Ireland home.
Some of her previous stunning work showcased at Sooq Central reflected her Irish roots and love of horses, with beautiful equine portraiture. Her appreciation of these majestic and sensitive animals is a direct result of having grown up in a country where horses are a major part of Irish culture. Some of her nature photography expresses her love of wildlife, nurtured by her surroundings growing up. She regularly photographs plants and flowers.
Much of her recent work, however, is very much immersed in the international culture of the busy city of Hong Kong, where architecture, street life and features set the stage for people and their relationships to their surroundings.
Her Artistic Story
Although always having an interest in the quirky or interesting, Mareike’s artistic talents were honed as a fashion design student in Ireland. She discovered her passion for artistic photography when undertaking photo shoots for student collections and fashion shows.
One of the turning points for Mareike was when she visited friends in Hong Kong 20 years ago. Her decision to stay for a while turned into staying permanently, after meeting her husband, then having two children in Hong Kong. This set her on her path as a professional photographer.
In capturing the early years of her children, her obvious talent led to Mareike being asked to undertake a children’s fashion shoot. Mareike describes working on the children’s fashion brand as “fun but challenging”, given children’s unpredictability. Her previous work with wild horses helped her to find that balance between the dynamic moment and creating an atmosphere of trust for her subjects.
Mareike recognised that formal photography training would help her develop her craft. She trained with ‘The New York Institute of Photography’. She has continued learning her craft ever since, taking instruction from photographers such as Sara Lando and Zack Arias, focussing on street photography
Mareike worked with Zack because she was beginning to find that she enjoyed a new kind of dynamism in her work, loving nothing more than to get out with her camera to capture Hong Kong’s atmosphere.
Mareike’s Photographic Print Work
Working mostly in black and white adds interest in our colour filled world. However, she often splashes colours so evocative of Chinese life into her monochromatic images. Key features will be picked out in red, for instance, or gold. Sometimes, she will find contrasts between aspects of what she sees, such as a fully blooming cherry blossom tree, next to discarded vehicles, devoid of life. Our eye is drawn to the beauty of the deep pink blossom against the shock of dilapidation, highlighted in bright colours.
Mareike’s love of Hong Kong now stretching over 20 years, is illustrated in her explorations of the city. Take for instance, her photographic print of old and slightly shabby, red doors onto the street, with complementary red decorative Chinese script around the doorway’s frame, on either side and above. The doors, although closed, make this a portal into the world of Chinese life that make you want to walk through them to find what is on the other side. This is very much the experience of the outsider.
Authentically Hong Kong, this particular Hong Kong street impression is all the more powerful, because it is without artifice, while obviously once carefully detailed with the aesthetic eye of the person who has inhabited this building.
This print is in typical Chinese colours and restrained to a palette of mainly red, black and white, with a little gold. This transports you instantly to a doorway somewhere in Hong Kong you too may have walked through or seen on your travels in the city.
Other classics of Mareike’s include her daytime street market scene, populated with people going about shopping and browsing. The narrow street captures the busy day time atmosphere perfectly, with advertising jostling for visibility overhead and a hint at the lives of many city dwellers in accommodation above. The city’s blue sky overhead adds to an uplifting experience captured by Mareike’s lively eye.
Composition and Curation of Mareike’s Photographic Prints
All of Mareike’s photographic images of Hong Kong are iconic and will draw attention. For the visitor who has left this bustling city, her work will delight, conjuring memories and pictures in the mind’s eye.
Mareike enjoys composition and carefully selects image collections to create a deeper appreciation of her subject. For instance, her asymmetric collection set of four photographic prints come in various sizes and shapes, which not only reflect different aspects of Hong Kong, how they are presented brings a really contemporary feel.
Mareike carefully curates combinations of images, combined with using artistic photography techniques to bring her images to life. For instance, she depicts people on the street as blurred, as if moving quickly around the timeless street tram. In stark colour contrast to the black and white street, this street icon seems to loom slowly towards you. Together with smaller images and the fourth narrow, vertical banner script completes the set with a kind of serenity that settles the stirred eye.
Mareike likes to specialise in street photography, nature, as well as portraits of people, families and animals. She aims to capture uniqueness of a city, or the everyday fascinating situations that we might easily miss. This atmosphere creating artist also loves after dark, regularly showcasing the city lights, late night shoppers and Hong Kong’s transformed alleyways.
Mareike’s limited colour palette makes her photographic prints highly adaptable to most internal décor schemes. Constrained to tones of black, white, with colour blocks of red, gold, or other tonal highlights evoke scenes where the mind’s eye fills in the rest of the colours and story.
Her representations of Hong Kong transport you instantly far away from wherever you are and have understandably caught the intention of interior designers, who she also counts among her clients. Her ability to capture the intriguing, ordinary and iconic have earned her admirers.
Momentos and Memories of Hong Kong
Her uniquely original photo art is also popular among expats leaving Hong Kong who want to take away portable mementoes of the city that has left such an impact on them.
Mareike’s Hong Kong photography collection make a fantastic gift for anyone who loves their city, or will be a treasured momento of time spent by the expats moved by their experience of this incredible city.