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Andrea Sonnenberg is a documentarian first and foremost. The San Franciscan photographer has spent the past few years shooting those around her, bringing an unflinching honesty to the portrayal of the lifestyle led by herself and her peers. While a lot of what she captures embodies the party and bullshit vibe of carefree youth, there’s a depth to her work that reveals a lot more than a simple celebration of hedonism. Sonnenberg’s work is so effective because it’s authentic, hitting the mark time and time again in a manner that reveals just as much about the viewer as the photographic subject. We caught a little bit of time with her to talk cameras, friends, and ambitions.

Can you intro yourself for us Andrea?

My name is Andrea Sonnenberg, many people know me as TEEN WITCH. I am a 23-year-old photographer born, raised, and living in San Francisco.

How much has living in San Fran influenced your work?

I would say 100%. This city is absolutely unique and its the people and places of San Francisco that make them what they are.

How did you get into photography?

I started taking photography classes at a young age and dabbled a bit but never really took to it as a true calling until I was older, about 18. I had a friend who was always taking photos of me and of her friends and the way she went about it engaged that part of me once again. I picked up a camera and haven’t put it down since.

A lot of your work is about documenting your social scene; do you always have your camera on you?

I cannot leave the house without it.

How constructed are your shots? Or is it spontaneous process for you?

I try not to create a scene that isn’t already there (except for group shots, of which I am a huge fan). I prefer to take candid shots, I try to capture fleeting moments, and not to make them something they aren’t.

When you’re looking at a photograph, what engages you?


Your work often features skaters and writers; do you have a natural affinity with subcultures?

I am a part of these subcultures so naturally they would be featured in my work. In an Francisco the scenes here overlap quite a lot, so it’s natural for me to have friends in many different subcultures because I grew up here, having the time to meet many different people.

Your photos always feel authentic, is your work a true representation of your lifestyle?

Thank you.  I find my photos to be very true of my lifestyle and that’s all I’m trying to do through shooting photos of the people in my life, is to give the outside world a glimpse into the life of a San Francisco youth.

Your work has a distinctly American feel to it, have you travelled the country much?

My parents are from Europe and I used to go there often when I was younger but I haven’t done much traveling since my childhood. Being an independent young woman you have to work to pay rent and both of these things along with other responsibilities make it hard to travel. I haven’t yet crossed the country by car and that’s one of my biggest dreams.

What’s your ideal destination?

I would love to travel the whole world. I used to read National Geographic everyday and dream that I was a world traveler hanging from the trees hundreds of feet up above the ground taking photos of different habitats or becoming a part of some small town and documenting the goings-on there. In my opinion, documentary photography is the most intriguing form of photography.

How would you describe your work to your parents?

My parents have been really supportive of me, especially my mom. My father doesn’t really know what is it that I do. I’ve shown him a couple magazine spreads that I have done but I don’t think that he really needs to see my photos to be proud of me. We have a special understanding between us two that’s its not about the content necessarily, more just about doing and being happy.

Your work was recently included in the MOCA ‘Art in the Streets’ show, what was it like being recognized in an exhibition of that scale?

Absolutely amazing. That experience changed my life. I never would have thought to be included in such a massive large-scale and groundbreaking exhibition and it really gave me a look into the world of ‘being an artist’, so to say.  It was the most beautiful show I’ve ever seen.

What’s pushing you?

The dream of one day doing this as a full-time job.

What’s on the horizon for you?

Currently working on the Living Walls Conference in Atlanta next month and various projects throughout San Francisco and LA in the coming months.

See more of Andrea’s work at her Flickr.