conversation about the sea

My conversation with photographer Franca Perra about a life near the sea:

I live with the northern sea and Franca comes from the sea of the south. Franca says, if you want to “meet” someone in the digital world, you have to stay authentic, then magic occurs even in this fast world and you learn something about the other person and about yourself. That’s true. I know the northern sea and the sea of the south both from childhood on well. Franca’s words and her pictures showed me that in the end, there is no gap between them despite all the differences, no gap between the two worlds I grew up in.

Franca is born near the sea and in some way she comes from the sea. Her mother used to call her flower of May, but she preferred the name her grandmother gave her: little sea spider. Franca has the sea in her soul. As a photographer with an architect training she thought a lot about why people so urgently want to live near the coast. Franca: “In the end we all have this inner voice which drives us to the sea, some kind of instinct of our earliest childhood probably. It seems that we all have to revive the experience to see and feel the sea again and again.” Even if it’s through looking at Franca’s pictures.

The sea of the south and the sea of the north are two different worlds, with different horizontal lines, lights and dewiness, with so many varieties. Franca told me, that she is always caught by surprise when suddenly a slight difference occurs in the air. At her home, at the isle of Sardegna, the summer light is very sharp and the air is hot. The sea in these days is peaceful without clear distinction from the sky. What remains, she said,  is a blankness full of nothing and yet full of all thinkable possibilities. Her isle is a land of the wind like my north too, a strong wind, called the Maestrale. Franca: “There is a small, nearly unknown, sparse and dry island near Sardegna, impossible to live on, because of the hard wind and the drought, with wild garlic and no shades for shelter, just some sea-gulls and wild rabbits.” She loves this place, the different lights, the smell, the wind, the sparse vegetation.

If she is to long away from home, she feels the absence of the sea. If she is traveling, she is always seeking her southern sea and she finds it in the northern sea on her journeys in Denmark, Norway, France and Netherlands. In the North she describes the coast as different:” The horinzon is more open, but the light is barred. The colours reflect a nostalgic light with variations of a soft colour palette. The sea here is imposing, the coastal line is unstable. The landscape is ephemeral with the sea and the tides assiduously leaving the shore and the flint naked, the sea is molding them continuously, painting an abstract canvas, an authentic land art.”

Franca told me, that while she was bowing to the sea with all its weather changes and its infinite lights and tides, she realizes that the desert land of the south is not so different from the lonesome northern steppe. The mild horizon from the north shaped by the fog is not far away from the southern humid cloud cover of the Mediterranean Sea. Franca: “What remains different and captivating is the alterability of the light, that defines landscapes, inner landscapes too, that have the capability to renew themselves continuously in my mind and have the power to inspire me.”

© all pictures Franca Perra, all rights reserved

More about her wonderful work on Behance , or have a look on her Instagram account.

An inspiring week my dear followers! Take good care of yourself, Melanie Kettner

postcard from Norway

This week nordic summer inspiration with Davies Zambotti and her postcard from Norway. This beautiful series displays so well the nordic air with all its facets, the colour of the sea and the play between light and deep, chilly and beneficial shadow. Davies is an Italian photographer and film director, who already worked on many film sets as “The International” from Tom Tykwer.

© all pictures Davies Zambotti

Learn more about Davies artistic work here. When I look at these images I immediately have to think about nordic summer holidays. Wonderful early summer days for you my dear readers! Here in the North we enjoy the first warm days, Lavender smell, giant blooming chestnut trees, a clear wind and a freezy sea and darkish blue lake….

the luxury to take time

Images: Morgane Erpicum Words: Melanie Kettner-

To start an inspiring week we want to show you the delicate landscape photography of Morgane Erpicum. I love her soft tones and the message the images are holding. The light, soft, calm atmosphere has a magic nucleus that talks to the beholder.

Frustrated with the unreliability of her memory, Morgane attempted to revive her travel experiences and share the feelings they inspired her through painting and writing. Morgane:” I always had itchy feet, and an insatiable curiosity for different cultures and landscapes. In October of 2015, my husband gave me an Olympus OM1 35mm. I was immediately seduced by analog photography’s grain, textures and wonderful latitude. Since then, I have been documenting my escapes on film, wandering the world in pursuit of a sensation of belonging and serenity.”

Her photographic stories are immediately recognizable: a very minimalistic eye laid upon the regions she roams, panoramas showcased by singular, soft colour palettes, clear geometric lines and authentic emotions. Through her landscape and portrait work, Morgane continually explores the fine line between observing and staging, in order to tell human and emotional stories – mostly within the realms of improvisation.
Morgane: “Film photography provides me with the luxury of taking time. While digital seems to have an almost immediate expiration date due to the advent of social networks, the long waiting time between the snap of the shutter and the reception of the image allows me time to reflect and review my photography with fresh eyes.”

Morgane: “Stereotypical offspring of the Y generation, living in a hundred-miles-an-hour society that no longer takes the time to catch its breath, I like to step back to contemplate each shot. This cathartic detachment from electronics permits me to focus on the essential” – a mentality portrayed through her rudimentary travel style. No Internet, no telephone, no batteries and no constraints, she is free to wander as she pleases and savour the extraordinary feeling of being, in harmony with herself and the world around her.

© all pictures Morgane Erpicum

More about her stunning work here. Meet her on Facebook here and on Instagram here. An inspiring week dear followers! Take good care of yourself! Melanie Kettner


Kim Høltermand’s nordic vision

This week on NORTHLETTERS: Award winning architectural and landscape photographer Kim Høltermand from Denmark, based in Copenhagen. I like the cool calmness in his iconic artworks, his nordic clearness in lines, forms and colours. Northern buildings and countries are the subjects to his eyes showing us the special nordic mood. Clients include Adobe, Apple, Behance, HTC and Alfa Romeo. He is featured f.e. by DEZEEN, Ignant, VSCO and in publications such as Port Magazine, Dwell, Oak the Nordic Journal, Architecture d’Aujourd’hui (AA) and Cercle Magazine.

© all pictures with kind permission

I honestly must admit that I have a strong focus at the moment on these beautiful colours he uses in this selection of images. I like the combination of soft colour patterns and clear, geometric shapes in sceneries like film settings.

More about his intriguing work here. His interesting instagram account you can find here.

An inspiring week dear followers! Next week I will present you a poetic landscape photographer and world wanderer.

Take good care! Best! Melanie Kettner

the colour green outside

Images: Haarkon Words: Melanie Kettner-

This week I’m enjoying the colour green outside. In Hamburg this colour is nearly bursting at the moment, luckily also at the centre, where we are living, the surrounding seems to be a giant park. Even if the sky at the moment is dark grey, nonetheless or maybe because of it, the green nature is striking. I discovered Haarkon, a beautiful website with the topic green, plants and travelling of the photographers Magnus & India, based in UK. They have a soft spot for plants and like to find greenery in urban spaces. They work for Ikea UK and Woolrich.They began a self-initiated Greenhouse Tour of the World and they’ve got no plans to stop any time soon. I really like this idea and the soft green tones they discover.

Here some impressions of Haarkon from their trips:

© all pictures Haarkon

You can read here more.Don’t miss their beautiful Instagram account.

Have a wonderful weekend dear followers! Soon here two very interesting photographers! Take good care! Melanie

the simple things….

The wonderful vegetarian food blog “Krautkopf” is my vegetarian inspiration at the moment, it is written by Susann and Yannic, two photographers from Berlin. They create simple, balanced meals for every day, a wide range of very creative and fresh recipes with seasonal ingredients and influences from all over the world.  Susann ad Yannic have a written a beautiful cookbook named after their blog. They combine food and interior pictures in an atmospheric way:

Krautkopf: “We never buy anything other than whole spices, and freshly grind them with a mortar and pestle, so that they only release their full taste during the preparation stage. The same applies to all of the grain we use. Freshly ground wholemeal flour tastes stronger, is more filling and contains a greater number of valuable substances. This by far is the overriding principle: everything as fresh and unprocessed as possible. In our kitchen, we try our best to forego convenience products and produce many sauces, spice pastes, stock and spice mixes ourselves. You can find a collection of these basic recipes on the Basics page. We also keep an eye on our sugar consumption. Refined sugar contains no nutrients whatsoever and puts a strain on the body. That is why we prefer alternative sweeteners such as rice syrup, dried fruits, honey, coconut and whole cane sugar, as well as freshly squeezed fruit juice. We tend to use rice syrup most regularly. It does not contain any fructose and so has less sweetening power. This form of sugar isn’t healthy either. But at least our alternatives also contain a few vitamins, enzymes and trace elements.”

We share their philosophy. Susann & Yannic: “It is the simple things that make life worth living. We love cooking with original products – especially those that are seasonal and from local farmers. This means that we associate every season with a particular taste and feeling. Our recipes, which draw influences from all over the world, are simple and honest dishes. Food that not only fills you up, but is also good for you and makes you happy. We want to share our passion with you, infect you with that passion and provide you with inspiration. Because we believe that cooking connects people and brings them together.

I think I will try their recipe of a beetroot chocolate cake:

© all pictures Krautkopf with kind permission

You find the recipe here. And their thai coconut soup is a good idea for our lunch at the agency. Really delicious recipes, don’t miss them. I’m completely in love with their summer salt: A salt with chili peppers, herbs and organic limes. You can download their App here. And have a look in their stunning cookbook here.

They have worked on a number of new recipes for their cookbook and have captured these culinary stories with their beautiful photographs. A seasonal cookbook with 65 recipes, dishes with influences from all over the world, prepared with natural and original products. More than half of the recipes are vegan, lactose and gluten-free. I think it’s worth ordering, it’s becoming one of my favorite cookbooks, even if you don’t understand German, as their pictures are a great inspiration!

Take good care dear followers! After Easter holiday I ‘m having a short break and will be back soon! Yours, Melanie Kettner

Iceland by Jonathan Smith

Winter inspiration before Christmas break with Jonathan Smith and his wondrous images of Iceland- a truly magic land. He captures the colours and soft light that winter reveals in certain moments. Just let indulge without too much words:










13_neg0510 13_neg0436 © all pictures Jonathan Smith with kind permission

more about Jonathan here.

His work consists of large scale, highly nuanced color photographs of the natural and breathtaking beauty of landscapes. He has been the recipient of a number of awards for his work that appeared in the Smithsonian and View magazines, PDN, Art and Architecture and The Royal Photographic Society Magazine. Thanks Jonathan for the cooperation with NORTHLETTERS!

A wonderful Christmas time dear followers, I am already looking forward to this peaceful season with long walks in still dark mornings, some chilly barbecue at the dawn, snow, ice flow on the sea and icicle on the roofs. I like all the lights outside, illuminated gardens and balconies in the darkness. It is my favorite time of the year because it is so dreamy and cozy and the air is fresh and cold…take good care of yourself and see you in January! Yours, Melanie Kettner

“The stuff of life” by Hilary Robertson

For This weekend I want to share with you “The stuff of life” by Hilary Robertson, published by Ryland Peters & Small. The way persons display objects in their homes reveals a lot about themselves. It is a little bit kind of magic how certain people arrange items, like Hilary Robertson does. She names this way of creating arrangements at home “personal altars”. These spots tell a story about journeys, memories or dreams. I think a lot about shapes and forms of objects to arrange at home. Nothing is more inspiring for me than a book like Hilary’s, showing the work of creatives displaying items in a way that magic occurs: Poetic still lifes, collections of vintage, salvaged and recycled objects or charming curiosities. The arrangements are always surprising, fresh, different in thinking and feeling. I love exactly this combination in interior styling. Let’s have a peek inside the book:

The Stuff of Life by Hilary Robertson (Ryland Peters & Small, £25) Photography by Anna Williams
The Stuff of Life by Hilary Robertson (Ryland Peters & Small, £25) Photography by Anna Williams
The Stuff of Life by Hilary Robertson (Ryland Peters & Small, £25) Photography by Anna Williams
The Stuff of Life by Hilary Robertson (Ryland Peters & Small, £25) Photography by Anna Williams

She describes how she and her husband built up a collection in New York, how they started trawling markets together. At home they display useful or unuseful things in eclectic compositions. One chapter is named ” stories told by real homes” and deals with “neatniks”, per definition persons who are extremely neat about surroundings. I suppose I am little bit a neatnik. Hilary describes so well in this chapter, how you can be a neatnik and nonetheless have some collections and a breathing and living home.

The Stuff of Life by Hilary Robertson (Ryland Peters & Small, £25) Photography by Anna Williams
The Stuff of Life by Hilary Robertson (Ryland Peters & Small, £25) Photography by Anna Williams

In the introduction Hilay writes: ” For me, making a home really was about the layers of things that are acquired over time; things that have stories and remind you of places and people and a feeling of discovery. It’s always a way of showing the world who you are: the museum of me; a key to your personality. I think that all ‘stuff ‘, even the most quotidian, can be beautiful if it is arranged as if it is important. And beauty (whatever beauty is to you) is balm for the soul.”

The Stuff of Life by Hilary Robertson (Ryland Peters & Small, £25) Photography by Anna Williams

So, if you need a book, which is a pure delight to watch and read and which surely will lead you through your home with a complete different sight on every angle, than Hilary’s book is a the perfect choice.

Thanks so much Hilary and Ryland Peters & Small!

You can order your copy of the book here.

A wonderful weekend for you, dear followers! Hope you are all well! In two weeks I will publish my last article here before Christmas holidays with stunning and poetic pics of Iceland. Take good care of yourself and a peaceful and calm Advent season! Melanie Kettner

On the look for inspiration…

Today let’s go on the look for inspiration with Myriam Balaÿ Devidal and her creation of a collection of bracelets. Pretty adorable her work progress one can observe while dreaming over her fabulous pictures. You can see how the inspiration finds its way and how playful she is discovering it again and again. I am not so keen on colours, but this is a kind of colour enchantment playing with light and shadows you are automatically driven in. Myriam graduated in Industrial Product Design in France after numerous collaborations on stage sets, theater, television and cinema. She then entered the textile world and had memorable experiences in the Haute Couture with Chanel and  Dior for instance. Today she works at “L’appartement” on materials, colors, objects, scenography and image.



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© All pictures with kind permission Myriam Balaÿ Devidal

To have a look on her beautiful bracelets and for orderings go here.

I’m not keeping updated my Facebook page anymore regularly. So please keep in touch on my webpage. Wish you a wonderful weekend, in two weeks photographer Dominik Tabaranski and the topic “Less is more” or to resist the appeal of distraction on this site.

Yours, Melanie Kettner







Venice in older days….

In summer break I want to share some pictures with you, my husband Thomas Kettner send to me from Venice a few weeks ago. He shot them before working on a fashion production, very early in the morning and in the evening. I think they are so special…they show Venice as it formerly was, like a theatre setting, with this magic, melancholic atmosphere and these soft, earthy colours. You sense the church bells, the carnival costumes, the palaces of the Venetian countesses, the market near the water, the pigeons, the musicians on the street, some juggler in the evening….

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Lucky me to have a husband sending me pictures like these ones, suggesting such a peaceful world….And  here some of his stunning pictures, he took late in the evening, shortly before it was raining:



© All pictures Thomas Kettner

A good advice to visit Venice is directly after the Carneval in winter, then this fabulous, magic town is nearly deserted for just a few days. I’ll be back here soon. Take good care of yourself! Yours, Melanie Kettner