Hasselblad Heroine 2023

Helga Stentzel

Photography has the unique power to capture the ordinary and transform it into extraordinary visual puzzles. Helga Stentzel, 2023 Hasselblad Heroine, skillfully wields this power, taking simple everyday objects and turning them into a playful, fun puzzle for the mind’s eye to enjoy.


Helga's journey into the world of photography began during a semester at St. Martins, where she was introduced to the works of renowned photographers like Man Ray, Nobuyoshi Araki, and David LaChapelle. However, it was the creative vision of Chema Madoz that truly left a mark.

“Madoz's work, characterized by clever and thought-provoking optical illusions captured in elegant black and white, captivated my attention like nothing else.

“I found his ability to transform ordinary objects into extraordinary visual puzzles through his lens truly inspiring. It took me ten years to find the courage to start experimenting with photography myself though.”


What makes Helga's photography unique is her ability to take everyday objects and infuse them with a sense of wonder. Her inspiration for this approach goes back to her childhood.

Growing up in a small village, she honed the art of self-entertainment, finding hidden dragons in the patterns of her carpet and parrots in the wood knots beneath her bed. These early experiences of discovery drive her passion for photography today.

“The feeling of uncovering something overlooked by everyone else in the family was profoundly satisfying—it was as if I was an explorer on a unique mission.

“I didn't have a camera back then, so there was no way for me to capture my findings. Today, it feels like I'm making up for those lost years, seizing every opportunity to capture the world around me.”


Helga believes that humor and playfulness are essential tools in her creative process. She approaches life with a belief in not taking things too seriously, which allows her to find the lighter side within it.

“Humour serves as a tool that helps us create distance from our problems, preventing us from becoming entangled within them. It's a powerful means of maintaining perspective and levity in our journey through life.”

Transitioning from a studio photographer to working outdoors has brought forth a new set of challenges, from the unpredictability of weather conditions to ever-shifting natural light. And Helga has learned some important lessons throughout her photography journey which she would share with those looking to take their images to the next level.

“Take lots of shots, from different angles. Most of my works are photo collages that I meticulously put together in photoshop after each shoot, so it's important that I have as much quality material to work with as possible.

“I often do a quick photoshop mockup during a shoot to make sure all elements work well together.

“Also, opt for the easier path: If there's a more straightforward way to achieve your vision that aligns with your creative philosophy, don't hesitate to take it.

“For instance, if capturing a specific object outdoors poses challenges, like the unpredictability of the wind, I would consider photographing it in the controlled environment of your studio at a more convenient time, and then photoshopping it. To me it's very important to maintain creative flexibility.”

Helga also encourages female photographers to trust their inner voice and embrace their journey. Authenticity is key, and creativity isn’t always about sparking joy; it's about staying true to your vision and expression.


Helga's creative process begins with sketching intriguing ideas in her notebook, ensuring she captures them before they fade. She searches for complementary concepts within her sketches, often leading to the creation of entire series.

During the editing process, she periodically steps away from her work to return with a fresh perspective. Her work is guided by the simple question: "Does it bring a smile to my face?" If it doesn't, she continues refining until it does.

One standout memory for Helga was her encounter with a pink house in Burano, Venice. The house seemed almost perfectly pareidolic but lacked a "mouth." Helga's quest to complete the scene led her to a red kayak on the opposite side of the canal. To her surprise, an Instagram follower happened to be friends with the owner of the kayak.

“What a serendipity! In a matter of minutes, he made a quick call, and I was granted permission to borrow the boat for as long as I needed.”


Helga is currently exploring the transition phase of clothing and the stories they tell when "off duty." She's fascinated by the transient nature of our choices and how discarded garments bear witness to the flow of our daily existence. Her work is a testament to the extraordinary that lies within the everyday.

Inspiration in Every Detail