Nadja Wohlleben is a German documentary photographer and cultural anthropologist based in Berlin. A careful play of documentation and artistry, Nadja’s work focuses on concepts of femininity, power and identity. Depicting people from diverse cultural backgrounds, she documents their stories through her imagery in an authentic, intimate and aesthetic style. With a keen eye for detail, Nadja’s photography brings humanity to the foreground.
As an undergraduate Nadja received a scholarship to study Journalism at New York University, then went on to complete her first Master's degree in Cultural Anthropology at Humboldt University in Berlin. Upon realizing that photography was the ideal tool to combine her interests, she majored in Photojournalism at the University of Westminster in London, graduating with distinction in September 2013.
Nadja’s work gained international recognition through prestigious photo contests, such as the International Photography Awards (IPA), FotoVisura Photography Grant, or Moskow International Foto Awards (MIFA). Her photographs have been featured in publications like VICE Magazine (US), GEO Magazine (GER), Burn Magazine, WIRED, Feature Shoot, New Internationalist (UK), or The Observer (UK). She has collaborated with international and local NGO’s like UNHCR, Humedica, No Means No Worldwide, Ujamaa Africa, or Makhzoumi Foundation.
Besides creating visual narratives, Nadja loves martial arts: she trains Shaolin Kung Fu and teaches women in Taekwondo and self defense. Never tired of exploring, Nadja has backpacked around the world visiting over 50 countries, and scuba dived her way through the seven seas. Her nomadic lifestyle is facilitated by her fluency in German, English, and French, as well as intermediate Spanish and basic Arabic.
Nadja is a member of laif photo agency and Women Photograph and is available for assignments and commissions worldwide.
2016 - FotoVisura Photography Grant, 2016 - MOPLA - Month of Photography LA Open Call, 2016 - MIFA 2016 (Moscow International Foto Awards), 2016 - International Photography Awards (IPA), 2016 - 'Family of Man' International Photography Awards, 2016 - The Emerging Photographer Fund / BURN Magazine, 2006 - Scholarship DAAD (German Academic Exchange)
- Video capture
From the series 'Shosho Jikinge'
In the Korogocho and Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya, one in four women are raped. Older women in particular have been targets in these small villages, as some young men, often under the influence of drugs and alcohol, believe a widespread superstition: that having sex with a grandmother cures HIV and washes off all sins. Recently, with few options, elderly women have begun to fight off these rapists using self-defense techniques. Organized by the international NGO No Means No Worldwide, in collaboration with Ujamaa Africa, a local NGO, groups known as the Shosho Jikinge (“grandmother defend yourself”) have been formed. There, the members, aged between 55-106 years, learn how to identify potential attackers, use their voices, trick their way out of dangerous situations, and fight back. Here, Beatrice Njeri Murange, 71, practices a palm punch as others look on.
From the series 'Shosho Jikinge'
Nairobi, KENYA, February 20, 2017: Elizabeth Kamau, 60, inside her hut in the Korogocho township with one of her ten grandchildren and the child of her adopted daughter. "I like being a good role model to children by showing them that a woman can be strong and empowered", she says. Elizabeth has been training with the 'Shosho Jikinge' (Engl.: 'Grandmother defend yourself') group since five years and has succesfully applied self defense techniques to fight off potential sexual attackers.