Mirka Laura Severa

Mirka Laura Severa doesn’t do anything halfway: The Heidelberg native works as a photographer, art director and set designer. A trio enabling her to consistently achieve her very unique style – in fashion photography and editorials, in still life, in her commissions, as well as in her freelance work, for which she’s won several awards, including the 2015 ADC Young Gun Award.
She first studied in Mannheim and graduated with a Masters in Applied Arts from the Sandberg Instituut from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. Mirka Laura Severa remained in the Dutch metropolis. From there she works for clients such as Apple, COS, Hermès, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, SZ Magazin, The New Yorker and Wallpaper*.

  • Born 1985, lives and works in Amsterdam
  • 2015: Master of Arts in Applied Arts from the Sandberg Instituut at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam
  • 2010: Assistant to photographer Marcus Gaab and art director Christiane Bördner in Berlin
  • Exhibitions in New York, Berlin and Austin
  • Awards, among others ADC Young Gun Award, ADC Award (Silver), Red Dot Design Award Communication, European Design Award (Bronze), Kodak Photo Calender Award and iF Design Award in Communication
  • Publication: The Still Life (2015), Gestalten Verlag


“Blog Re-Blog” (Group), Austin Center for Photography, Austin 2014
“Editions #1” (Group), Pavlov’s Dog, Berlin 2014
“Blog Re-Blog” (Group), Signal Gallery, Brooklyn 2013

“I think it’s always very important that there’s an idea, a conceptual thought, behind a photograph.”“

You are a photographer, art director and set designer – how do you view the relationship between these three fields?
In my work, they all merge together. In contrast to the commercial sector, where a general separation of the art director, set designer and photographer occurs, it is very important to me to cover all of these areas, especially in advertising: I develop the visual concept, the result is the set, which I design myself. And in the end, I also take the photograph. It makes no difference to me whether it’s a campaign for Louis Vuitton or a personal project. I’ve never even considered another way of working. It’s important to maintain control over the image and to see myself reflected in it.

How do you describe your style?
I think it’s always important to have an idea behind the image, a conceptual thought. In general, my style is graphic, even a bit cold. That said, it’s important to me to impart some humor into the image. I do this, for example, in that I always attempt to create tension in the images through surreal or even disturbing moments.

So, for example, in your series “Still Life,” where you arranged prosthetics arranged as a reduced still life. How did this series come about?
The series is a result of my work in the commercial field, where I’m frequently photographing luxury goods like handbags, fashion and jewelry. These are extremely lavishly and elaborately produced photographs, only to sell a product in the end and to create the desire to possess the product.As a result of this, I’ve been doing more and more thinking about my role as a photographer/art director and what I ultimately want to achieve with my photographs.
I started to ask myself what I would “sell” with my visual language if there was nothing to sell!? I arrived at the idea of silicone prosthetics: hyper-realistic looking, perfect body parts, that appear to be real at first glance. In my opinion, it’s the perfect metaphor for the question of what the product is – or more, WHO the product is.

Is there someone or something that you really want to photograph?
As a matter of fact, in the future, I would like to do more self-portraits. At the beginning of the year, I took one where I completely transformed myself. I think it’s exciting to be a physical part of the image.

Despite its reproducibility: What makes photography unique?
What fascinates me about photography, is that you can create worlds with its help. I think it’s irrelevant if the image is reproducible or not in the end. It’s much more about the thoughts that one has in developing it – whether it’s photography, sculpture or painting.
Just as with any genre of art, there are decisively different approaches: I think the elaborate construction of a set is already an artwork. Then the camera comes into play, for a millisecond it freezes what I’ve built. When the shoot is over, I throw the set away. The only things that remain are the photographic documentations, whose technical aspects determine the final image. Like the lighting that I use to give the set a certain mood. A mood that compliments the feeling of the world I want to create: Is it dramatic? Or is it soft?


Author: Teresa Köster

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