Mirja Maria Thiel, born in Hamburg 1971, is a German photographer who feels indebted to the documentary tradition.
She finished her studies of American, English and German Literature and Linguistics at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany, with a Master’s thesis exploring the "Grotesque Worldview and Mythical Consciousness in Selected Works of American Poetress Sylvia Plath" (1999). Thereafter, she worked for the literary publishing houses’ editorial departments at Suhrkamp and Schöffling & Co as well as for the image editorial department of the World Wide Fund for Nature, all situated in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, before giving birth to her first child in 2001.
Mirja is the co-author of a critically acclaimed nonfiction about bitless riding and animal welfare horse education (2007/10, Georg Olms Press).
From 2006 until 2010 she lived with her family in the countryside between Appenzell and St. Gallen in Switzerland.
The experience of motherhood has intensified her enduring interest in storytelling as a means of rising to challenge, living with change and showing compassion with humanity’s and her own vulnerability. In 2010, she bought her first professional camera to begin her photographic development with documenting her young children. Finally, after being diagnosed, aged 40, with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, photography became her main mode to focus on her own emotional journey by telling other people’s story.
From 2014 until 2019 Mirja studied part-time in the degree program (B.A.) „Photojournalism and Documentary Photography“ at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover, Germany, and participated in photography workshops with Darcy Padilla, Rob Hornstra, and Vanessa Winship at the Centre National de l’Audiovisuel, Luxembourg.
Mirja’s independent photographic work is long-term and deals in-depth with single characters. Her documentary narratives develope around memory and identity, exploring health challenges such as Alzheimer’s disease and underrepresented issues like eroticism and sexuality in old age couples to broaden the social discourse about these topics.
At the moment Mirja lives with her husband and their three children close to Bremen in northern Germany.
Mirja Maria Thiel
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