A pastoral hymn to difference Since 2017, Snezhana von Büdingen-Dyba (born 1983, German/Russian) has been documenting the life of a young woman with down syndrome named Sofie. "I started taking pictures of Sofie back in 2017 when she was 18 years old. She had just finished school and spent almost every day on the family estate in a small village in Eastern of Germany. Sofie comes from a family of famous antique dealers and grew up in the magical atmosphere of this farm. Visiting Sofie and her family for over four years, I experienced their everyday lives and shared the highs and lows of Sofie's first steps into love. At that time Sofie was in that awkward yet beautiful and thrilling age of transition from a girl to a woman, when every feeling is extremely intense and love seems to be the main purpose of life”, von Büdingen-Dyba explains. The fairytale ambiance in the yard and farmhouse seemed to be completely separated from the whole modern world, as if located in a different dimension of time and space. From the very first moment Sofie seemed fascinating – her character, the peaceful, harmonious nature of Sofie, her way of interacting with the world around her, and the immediate connection between the two of them – and the little bubble she exists in seemed to have this dreamy, yearning sort of magic to it. What followed was a tender and gorgeous chronicle of teenage life and love unfolding against the fairytale backdrop of Sofie and her family's home. The scenes in the photos came from immersing herself in Sofie's world, watching her actions and reactions to things unfold. “Photographs of Sofie are created through our deep mutual trust and closeness”. The most powerful aspect of this series is undoubtedly how universal the story it tells is – all of that tenderness and angst and wistful longing at falling in love for the first time is stuff we all know inside out, and it's that commonality of experience that connects us, in the end. "Everyone can relate to that intensity of teenage feeling and I definitely recognise myself at that age in Sofie,” von Büdingen-Dyba says, and she hopes other people will be able to recognise their own experiences when they look at the pictures too. "This insight would destroy any artificial boundaries built on prejudice and ignorance between us,” she says, "and it would contribute to a deeper level of acceptance, integration and love between us humans.” — THE PHOTOGRAPHER Snezhana von Büdingen-Dyba was born in 1983 in Perm (Russia). She works and lives in Cologne/Germany since 2008. Von Büdingen-Dyba studied Photography (Fotoakademie Cologne, 2016) and Journalism (FH Osnabrück, 2012). In her photography she focuses on portraiture and social issue photography. Her work has been published by TIME Magazine, The British Journal of Photography, Polka Magazine, 6Mois Magazine, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Stern Magazine among others. She is the reciptient of the Prix Maison Blanche (Marseille, 2021). She was a finalist for the Leica Oscar Barnack Award (2019) and Sony World Photography Award (2018) and has exhibited her photographic work in museums and galleries worldwide such as Fotografiska Museum Stockholm, Leica Gallery Frankfurt, National Portrait Gallery London, ClampArt Gallery NY, Somerset House London. — THE PRESS “This series takes us into the world of Sofie, a young German woman with Down’s syndrome. In each image, we’re shown a different aspect of her life: her intimacy with her mother, her place on the family estate, and her love of the natural world. She’s graceful and open to the camera; the photos are like film stills, drawing us into their narrative.” – Joanna Milter, The New Yorker
“The author of the pictures has established a deep connection with the subject of the story, and it is evident from the images. It takes time to gain someone’s trust but Snezhana did it. Respect and care are fundamental characteristics that a photographer must always keep in mind. Sofia’s story shows exactly what it means to listen and then represent someone’s personality through one’s own vision.” – Manila Camarini, D La Repubblica
“In the series 'Meeting Sofie' by Snezhana von Buedingen-Dyba, Sofie is both a goddess and a human. Impossibly beautiful, but also subject to moments of elation and sadness, Sofie puts a new face on a disorder that is mostly just seen in one dimension — as a disability. Sofie, lying in a field of red poppies, is so much more — she is a teenager, she is a friend, she is a rebel, she is an icon, and she is a girl.” – Brienne Walsh, PDNedu, 2018
“The sheer poeticism of Meeting Sofie is enthralling. The location, romantic and pastoral, could be the setting of a Renoir painting: soft light, dappled sun; sprawling greenery and rich fabrics; a world so free of friction or hostility that it doesn’t feel real at all.” – Flossie Skelton, The British Journal of Photography, 2020 — BOOK FEATURES 23,5 x 27,5 cm
60 colour photographs
French/English text Embossed lined hardcover with tipped-in image Four-color printing on 150g matte coated paper ISBN 978-2-36744-174-0 — THE PUBLISHING HOUSE Le Bec en l’air is a French independent photobook publisher founded in 1999 and based in Marseille. Our 250 titles catalogue includes Denis Brihat’s and Denis Dailleux’s monographs, authors as diverse as Payram, Tendance Floue collective, Jane Evelyn Atwood or Michel Vanden Eeckhoudt, as well as collections such as +Photographie (with the Ministry of Culture), Circulations, Sète. The dialogue between photography and text is an essential aspect of the our books, which are often multi-lingual. Le Bec en l'air at Paris Photo 2021.