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Maren Krings is a German photographer and f-stop ambassador. She holds an academic background in photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she developed a profound interest in social-documentary and journalistic photography. Maren’s current documentary on hemp has seen her spiraling around the world to document the environmental, social and political impact of the worlds most controversial plant. She will publish a photobook of this visual journey, revealing how hemp is used from building CO2 negative houses, to growing pesticide-free food and producing durable clothing. Read on for Maren's behind-the-scenes insight and how you can get involved in her project...
Chinese hemp harvest being documented from film-teams and photographers from US, Australia and Germany. North-China
As demographics in Europe started changing drastically in 2015 I felt the urge to produce a visual account that would go deeper than documenting refugees starting at their port of entry in Europe. Setting out on this journey was a bit like travelling into the unknown! I had no idea that the hemp plant would become the answer to this quest. More by accident did I come across industrial hemp and heard that this plant fulﬁls all basic human needs. It can feed us, house, dress and cure us! My suspicions drove me to further research this plant and the rapid development of it’s rediscovery after 75 years of prohibition. Instead of answers more questions started popping up, which forced me to keep going on with my research and documentation. Four months later this was not a small project for self education anymore, but a big project going in line with many other international efforts to ﬁnd solutions to our global crisis of environmental, political and social problems.
Ingredient from the hemp plant, CBD being used as medication to treat MS. Netherlands
Production site of hemp stones. South Tyrol, Italy
Hemp harvest for fibre production. North China
I found my way into this topic by accident in July 2016, when I met a hemp farmer in South Tyrol, who had developed a hemp stone for constructing houses. His passionate speech about the thousand uses of hemp left a deep impression on me and triggered my own research. I did not hop on the wave of a boom, but simply followed my interest in verifying the positive qualities of this plant. Conversations about my new interest showed very clearly that most people had no, or else very little understanding of this plant. This started my work of documenting the innovations, initiatives and projects that are arising around the globe to produce sustainable products from hemp.
House built from hemp stone. South Tyrol, Italy
Hemp farmer and his son inspecting the hemp seeds before harvesting it for food. Finland
I believe that this project truly changed my life and will not be done upon the publication of the book! It has altered my view on sustainability, on environmental issues, it has given me insights on ﬁrst hand into industrial processes that before I could only speculate on and therefore has truly reshaped my understanding for the world I am living in. Saying this, it didn’t make it easier to be a conscious human being because now I second question almost everything I do, the products I use, the amount of things I feel necessary to own, the carbon footprint I leave while travelling for this project…
It is not easy to incorporate all the knowledge about what harms our planet and how we could change it into our own lives. That is something that will be a lifelong journey that has been triggered by this project on hemp! As far as the development for the hemp plant, I strongly believe that there are so many people worldwide, who dedicated their time and efforts into this plant, that I am positive that we will see a drastic change in the general perception of this plant. Neither the Pharma industry will be able to negate it’s healing effects nor the textile industry will be able to keep up it’s claim that we cannot substitute the polluting growth of cotton with pesticide-free growing hemp in the future and these are just two examples of a long list!
Photographer Maren Krings traveling around the world for her photo-documentary book on hemp. China
When answering this question it is important to know that I am living in my VW Caddy for this project! Since it is a self-funded project, I am working on a shoe-string budget and have to cut costs wherever possible. Living on 2,5m x 4,5m since two years, keeps me pretty restricted on the equipment I can carry with me. I am working with a Canon and a Fuji system, each with three lenses, as well as a recording tool, a DJI Magic Pro drone and the Pro Photo B2 lighting kit, some light stances and a tripod. That is it.
Rolls of tape. Who doesn't carry these essentials?
All of this ﬁts well into the Ajna as well as the Tilopa mountain series pack of f-stop, which I have in daily use. The packs have become like an „oversized“ purse since I try to never leave my technical equipment in the car. The packs have truly surprised me with the packability and robustness. They had to go through heat, cold, sand-and ice storms, though never failed to keep my equipment safe, dry and clean. The easy access to the ICU’s has made the „car-lifestyle“ much more handleable in organisation! Also the packing cells and gatekeeper straps are essentials I cannot miss anymore. They have been going far beyond just keeping my photographic equipment at check. If the pack was already overloaded with gear, there was always room to attach a sleeping matt and tent to the outside, by quickly adding the gatekeeper straps. What used to be an overnight bag before living in the car has now become the packing cell, carrying my over night essentials, when being offered a couch from friends to replace the bed in my caddy for a night!
You can follow Maren's journey on her website, Facebook and Instagram.
To support Maren's crowdfunding campaign to produce the photobook of this documentary project, which is running from the 22nd of October until the 19th of November 2018, please visit the following website: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hemp-the-seed-for-a-new-world#/