I have always had a fascination with artists who arrived at their craft through a series of seemingly unconnected events. My own artistic journey is one of discovery, chance, and sometimes abject frustration. For Sabine Bannard, an interest and involvement in music and food has serendipitously led to a passion for photography. However, it could also be seen as a natural progression. A childhood love of music led to a career as an internationally touring DJ and television presenter, which then developed into an affinity for photography. Sabine now resides with her family in Australia on top of a little mountain beside the sea. It is always charming to discover that someone you admire has such a captivating history.
Photo by Sabine's daughter Lulu
Can you share some of your journey with me? I'd love to know the history that shaped your story, can we start with your love affair with food?
I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother and grandmother who were excellent cooks. My mama cooked restaurant inspired food for our Sunday lunches, and breakfasts. My Dad loved his German Aufschnitt, cured and smoked meat and sourdough rye. My grandmother’s husband was a forest ranger, we had a lot of foraged food at her house. My father also ran a boutique wine shop in Cologne so I travelled through Germany visiting wineries and eating local food. I always joke that I grew up in a wine barrel!
How did your passion for music lead to becoming a presenter on a German TV show?
I went to a casting for a show called Housefrau (hence my Instagram name). It was a program about house and techno music and I landed a job as one of the presenters. For the next decade my life was all about music. During the week I was either at the TV station working on the show, or I was traveling. If I wasn’t on the road for Housefrau, I was DJ’ing all over Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In ’96 I went to Australia to do a show about the local music scene. I had a DJ gig in Brisbane and Sydney where I met Martin, my tour manager. From the moment he picked me up from the airport it was love at first sight!
What happened with you and Martin?
Martin and I became an item. When I flew back to Germany I immediately knew this was different, we phoned each other almost every day. Three months later Martin came to Cologne and we got married, shortly afterwards our two beautiful children were born. Seven years later we uprooted and moved our family to Australia. Moving to a different country was not as easy as we thought and it wasn’t until we settled on Mt Tamborine that we began feel at home. My beloved mountain behind the sea, covered in ancient rainforest and blessed with red volcanic soil. This is the place I call home now and it inspires me very day. I love the sound of the wind in the majestic gum trees, the native birds in the rainforest, the beautiful community that's like an extended family. These things make life worth living.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
I love capturing the mood of a moment, photography can really convey the stories of people and places. I’m fascinated by the way light casts shadows and lines. I can get totally lost trying to soak it all in and freeze little moments in time. I am inspired by the process of taking an idea and turning it into to a visual story. Whether it’s a product shoot or family pictures I’m always enjoying my work. Being a photographer is always exciting and never stagnant.
You live in a beautiful area in Queensland (Mt Tamborine) how did you end up in such a unique part of Australia?
Our original plan was to settle in Melbourne, but Melbourne winters are grey and cold just like Cologne. When we lived in Germany we travelled to Australia to visit Martin’s family. They introduced us to the Sunday markets on the mountain which was such a beautiful experience. I later made a collage for Martin with pictures and memories of the trip. We were planning to go back to Australia and this collage hung on our lounge room wall for three years to remind us. I think I always wanted to end up in Mount Tamborine.
Can you shed some light on the differences between life in Germany and life in Australia?
I always say that our stress in Australia is no different to our stress in Germany, but the sky is higher and the sun shines more often. However, it’s more than that. The people, the environment, the houses, the food…it’s like being on a different planet. I feel more at home here because Aussies are so easy going. Life just feels more complicated in Germany. Mind you, my blunt German way of speaking needed some adjustment!
Can you tell us a little about the part that online social media plays in your creative practice? Are sites like Instagram invaluable to artists in the modern world?
I could write forever about Instagram because without it I wouldn’t be a photographer. All these wonderful people in one place. I mean, how is it possible that you can find your likeminded tribe in the millions of users on Instagram? It’s such a beautiful way to make friends, you get to know a person on a totally different level. Even though social media can be superficial at times, I find my Instagram connections often run deeper than some of my real ones. Unfortunately, it can be a bit addictive! I often lose hours of my life watching stories and browsing through beautiful feeds.
Would you say that your move to Australia has influenced your photography?
Moving to Australia is where it all started. In 2013, I signed up with Instagram and I got my first digital DSLR about eighteen months later. The light here, the beauty everywhere, the glorious food and coffee scene. Not to mention the wonderful people! When I lived in Germany, I worked with moving pictures and only took photos for fun. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become a photographer!
How does your background in photography influence the way you see and decorate your home?
Oh my! I have still life’s set up in every corner of the house which is a constant source of amusement for my family. I like things in order, a calm open environment inspires me to create. Photography makes me more sensitive to colour, this sensitivity helps me when I decorate my home.
How would you describe your home aesthetic?
Our home is a joint effort between Martin’s building and my styling (Martin can build just about anything). I guess our aesthetic is eclectic with a rustic feel. We scour the op-shops, gum tree, and eBay to find special pieces of furniture. That way everything in our house has a story to tell.
Is there a favourite family meal you like to cook?
That depends on the time of the year. In winter my kids love my roasted cauliflower pasta bake. In summer we have lighter things like charred corn, cucumber, and black rice with a coriander sauce. Also, I could eat a salad with rocket, tomatoes and red onion any day.
Do you have any daily rituals?
Yes. I begin my mornings taking care of our furry and feathery friends. Martin lets the chickens out early and I feed them their morning treats. I’m convinced that chickens lay more eggs when you spend a bit of time with them. I walk our two dogs every day. We have a black pure breed miniature poodle called Dexter and a golden cocker spaniel poodle cross called Chewie and I love them to bits. After those duties are finished I make a huge pot of spiced chai, peruse Instagram, and read some of my cookbooks. Then I get stared with the rest of the day.
What is your favourite thing to do on the mountain?
We have a street nearby which feels like you are walking through a rainforest and we love walking the dogs there, it’s magical! I love to drive along the mountain looking out over the valley, it always makes me so happy. Also, if you hang out on Main Street you can be sure to bump into a friendly face and find yourself in an interesting conversation.
Can you share something exciting that's coming up in the near future?
I had the pleasure to take pictures for a book which will come out in August. I can’t tell you too much yet except that it was a collaboration with my talented friend Steph. She is an amazing designer, stylist, and a wonderful human being. Plus I’m planning to start work on my personal Housefrau blog.
All images by Sabine Bannard (except one)
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