Stine Heilmann – Keeping things pure and simple

A woman with a huge flower headpiece

Inspired by nature, “Botanic Couture” is about using fanciful floral arrangements that take their inspiration from Haute Couture, a recurring theme in Stine Heilmann’s portraits.

Known for powerful portraits and exquisite ‘Botanic Couture’ shots, Stine is a text-book example of taking your passion, learning from the best, finding your unique style and making it into a profession.

Stine first fell in love with photography in 1987. A year later she found herself in the Caribbean, sailing from island to island for 3 months with a camara slung over her shoulder. During the trip she discovered just how much she loved telling stories through her camera: “I felt I had a purpose. Photography became my passion.”

To turn the passion into a profession, she did a 5-year internship which ended in 1992. She then went to New York and for 3 years assisted the best of the best: Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, Mary Ellen Mark and Irving Penn. Having taken in all the artistic, technical and creative skills she could learn, she returned to Denmark and set up her own studio.

Her idol is Irving Penn, whose simple, clean style and strong images Stine adores. Stine has had the opportunity to also collaborate with Penn artistically for a year and a half, something Stine considers a special moment in her career. She recalls Penn saying: “Stine, you’re are a modest and very talented female photographer.” This declaration has stayed with her over the years, and Stine’s goal is to remain modest. She also remembers to be grateful for being able to make a living from photography.

Keeping to her idol, Stine has developed a very clean and simple style, but with a distinctly more feminine approach. Stine is inspired by the beauty of flowers, nature, light, colours and people, which all play a key role in her work.

Stine Heilmann holding a Canon camera.
Stine Heilmann, 53
Portrait and documentary photographer

Instagram: @stineheilmann

For anyone interested in her style of photography, Stine’s master advice is to keep things simple: “Less is more, simple is beautiful, whenever you‘re photographing people, objects and nature.” She also encourages others to use shaded Northern light for a cold, beautiful, soft and delicate light.

Finally, Stine’s dream is to travel the world creating Botanic Couture portraits of women and young girls in Third World countries, giving them love and beauty and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Stine’s kitbag

Stine’s favourite equipment includes Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, Canon EF lenses: 85mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, 100mm, 16-35mm. Battery pack, 2x SanDisk 64 GB, SanDisk card reader. Her Pelicase camara bag has been all over the world for the last 8 years. Other equipment includes a MacBook Pro, Hard disk Lacie, Notebook, pen and facemask, Camera Gloves Vallerret, Tether pro cord, one roll of gaffa tape, Silver California Sunbounce.