New at laif: Jeannette Petri

We are pleased to introduce Jeannette Petri as our new laif photographer. Jeannette lives in Freiburg and photographs people and reportages for magazines and companies throughout Germany and Switzerland. In her freelance work, she focuses on intersectional queer feminism.

You can also find out more about Jeannette on Instagram from Wednesday, January 10, 2023. For one week, Jeannette will take over the laif account and talk about her applied and freelance projects.


laif at Instagram


Katja Kemnitz conducted an interview with Jeannette:


On your website, you write about yourself: »I love working with people who get up in the morning for a better, more colorful, more diverse world.« What exactly does that mean for you and your work?

I would like to use my photography to contribute to making this world more open, more colorful and more diverse. I hope that this statement will appeal to people who would also like to contribute. There is still room for improvement in photojournalism too.


You were allowed to portray Wolfgang Schäuble for Der Spiegel in November. How was the photo shoot?

I didn’t think he would die so soon. He made a very fit and, as always, clear impression on me. He was alone that morning in Offenburg, his wife wasn’t there. He opened the door for me and his first words were that he didn’t like being photographed at all and that I should do it quickly. He didn’t have much time and still had a few things to do.

I found that interesting, as politicians rarely have time, even when they are retired. I asked him about his favorite place and used all the perspectives from there. So the meeting was very short. Nevertheless, I am very happy to have taken this rather unusual, private portrait of Wolfgang Schäuble in his apartment. Of course, it was a very special encounter for me and I am very glad that I had this opportunity. [Note from laif: As of February, the photos are free and available in the image database].

I was probably also the last photographer to be at Martin Walser’s house. That was also a very special encounter and yet it is also strange to be the last person to photograph him. It touches me, even if we only spent a few minutes together.


Do you prefer to photograph known or unknown people?

It doesn’t really matter. Of course, it’s even more interesting to see what well-known personalities are like and what the encounter will be like. However, the more famous the people, the less time they usually have. It’s a bit of a challenge to take a good picture in just a few minutes without knowing the circumstances.

There are always at least two people who make a photo shoot something special. I really like it when my protagonists show appreciation for me and my work in the form of time. I’m always happy to have a coffee and a quick chat. Immersing myself in a story is what makes me happy.


Your current freelance work is »THE BEYOND BINARY PROJECT«. What is it about?

I started »Beyond Binary« in April 2022. I felt a strong need to make a work by exploring my own gender identity. My freelance projects always have to do with myself. Photography helps me to immerse myself in topics that inspire me.

We live in a world full of binaries, small-big, fat-thin, black-white, male-female. However, gender is an infinite spectrum on which »male« and »female« are merely dots. Non-binary people can locate themselves in between, outside or completely independent of these points – or not at all.

A lot has happened since Judith Butler’s book »Gender Trouble« (1990). I wanted to go in search of how young people today define their gender identity. So far, I have portrayed over 25 people. I also ask my protagonists to write down their thoughts: What does it mean to be non-binary? What do they want for the future on a societal level?

»Beyond Binary« is about being allowed to show yourself and be seen. We can’t be a better society until we see it. It’s important to me to use the project to educate people, show different positions and allay fears. In general, I would like us to treat each other with more love and compassion.



How far along is the project and what else is planned?

»Beyond Binary« is planned as a book project and is to be shown in exhibitions. Unfortunately, all attempts to obtain project and book funding have so far failed. There have also only been rejections for photo festivals so far. It is important to me to talk about this failure, because it is also part of the creative process. And it tells us a lot about our society and where we are right now. In general, far too often only successes are reported, but hardly anyone sees the work and the (rocky) road behind it.

The work is not yet finished. I would also like to photograph older people throughout Germany, but I need funding for that. I’ll definitely keep at it. »Beyond Binary« will be exhibited in Frankfurt in May/June, which I’m really looking forward to.


»Beyond Binary« is not your first project on the subject of gender identity.

Yes, exactly. When I published the first issue of my magazine »Anattitude« as part of my practical diploma thesis in 2005, I was already very much involved with the topic and photographed the series »Hip Hop doesn’t know any gender«. Today I would say that I was portraying non-binary identities back then, but that wording didn’t exist.

I published the magazine for almost 10 years – until 2014. It shows FLINTA in hip hop culture in Germany, Brussels, Paris and London. At the time, I wanted to counter the claim that hip hop was an exclusively male culture, because this assumption is simply not true.


Do you have a good response to people who dismiss such work as »gender ideology« or a »woke trend«?

You can label anything as a trend if you want. I think it’s super important to show such work and there can’t be enough of it. Gender-nonconforming people have always existed, but there needs to be much more visibility and a »dare to be bold« without discrimination.


You've been with laif for almost a year now. Why did you choose us as your agency?

Exactly, I’ve been with laif since April 2023. Being represented by laif is a wish from my student days. All the better that it has now become a reality.


book Jeannette


Reportages by Jeannette