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Zoe Zimmer

The model and budding photographer chats to Dazed about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Campaign, her favourite models and travelling the world

Zoe Zimmer is a 23-year-old multifaceted model slash photographer, and the daughter of Hans Zimmer. When not shooting, she travels extensivly between her homes in Los Angeles and London, or jets off to Miami Vice parties and taking pictures of Morgan Freeman. Her style is a unique mix of hot and cold, smoothly mixing the two climates and aestics the two cities she calls home. Another interesting aspect to Zimmer's photography is her experience of being both behind and in front of the camera...

Dazed Digital: What are you up to in LA? 
Zoe Zimmer:
Well, I live half in L.A. and half in London - which is a pretty awesome arrangement. I'm here now doing a few meetings before the end of the year, which conveniently coincided with my father being given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame... Not the kind of thing that happens everyday! So thought now was a good time to be here.   

DD: What was your childhood like? When did you start getting into photography?
Zoe Zimmer: My childhood was fairly normal - or it seemed normal to me. I was born and raised in Notting Hill, London, and lived there with my mother - my father lived in Los Angeles. I was the cliche 1980s product of a model and a musician - so maybe it wasn't all that normal at times! There were no white picket fences or anything, but for the most part I was a happy kid. In hindsight, I really value growing up in the centre of such an amazing city, and as I got older I really value now living between two amazing, and totally, different cities.

I started modelling at 14, and although photography was always an interest of mine, I never had really thought about it as something I could do - rather as something that was part of what I did. It was actually one night when I was 19, I was in L.A. at my father's studio at 3am reading an article about Catherine Opie, and for no real reason decided I was most definitely going to be a photographer. 

DD: What have you learned about photography from being a model? How did you like the fashion industry and what made you switch to photo?
Zoe Zimmer: Modelling was something I'm very glad I did, and I'm very glad I stopped doing. More than teaching me about photography, it taught me about the industry as a whole - I feel I started fashion photography with such a huge advantage, which I'm extremely grateful for. I'm totally happy with the way things have gone, as I always knew modelling was a finite thing, and it drove me crazy for years that I didn't know what I wanted to do after I was too old or too bored to do it anymore. 

DD: What other cities do you love besides LA and London? 
Zoe Zimmer: One of the main things I love about living between London and Los Angeles is how different they are in almost every way imaginable - the light, the architecture, the people. It's what makes going back and forth so interesting, I rarely feel bored. Other than L.A. and London, all of the usuals - New York, Paris, Rome. My Grandmother lived in Munich and I used to go there a lot before she died - it's such an incredible city and I miss going. Berlin's next on my list, I hate that I still haven't been and I really hate that despite being half German I never learnt speak the language! I'll put it on my To Do list...

DD: What can you tell me about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Campaign that you worked on? Will you be doing more with them in the future?
Zoe Zimmer: I hope so, it was awesome. Fashion is my main focus, but it's great to do something so different. The campaign, which is spearheaded by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was about raising awareness to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – basic rights that everyone should have, but so few do, such as “The right to a fair trial” etc. I took over 30 photos of artists like Morgan Freeman and the LA Lakers, holding signs about the campaign, which went on billboards in LA. It was pretty damn amazing to do, and to watch how that kind of campaign is put together. I'm hoping to work with some of the same people on a project next year for the Romani people in Europe.  

DD: Who are some of your favourite models? 
Zoe Zimmer: Right now I'm really liking girls like Ashley Smith, Lara Stone, Georgia Jagger etc. I think they all have a look that hasn't been around before. Makes me wish I hadn't fixed the gap in my teeth.

DD: Who are some of your favourite photographers?
Zoe Zimmer: The first photographer I remember really being interested in was Guy Bourdin, his work is so distinctive and considered. Helmut Newton was another one, we have his ridiculously large book, the one that comes with it's own stand, that I've looked at over and over again. I sometimes get so consumed with fashion photography that I forget there are people that take photos of things other than models. I went to a William Eggleston exhibition at LACMA recently which was amazing, and a much needed reminder that it's ok, if not encouraged, for me to take photos of people outside of a studio. 

DD: How do you like tumblr so far? It went down for like 24 hours and a lot of people were freaking out.
Zoe Zimmer: To be honest, I really just use my Tumblr as an extension of my website. I don't do a lot of re-blogging, but I've found a few blogs that I think are really pretty great. The whole idea of Tumblr is so simple but it works so well because it gives people a really easy way to relate to each other's interests. I don't quite understand the daily need to update it, but I'm quite glad other people do as it gives me something to read. I hope all the people that freaked out when it crashed found a good book to read or something - no need to panic, I mean, come on it's not like it's Facebook. 

DD: What kind of camera do you usually use?  
Zoe Zimmer: For shoots I use a Canon 5d Mark II - it's pretty serious, I think weighs more than I do. I was recently given a Leica X1 which is amazing, and great for more everyday stuff. But I'm extremely impatient so I can't work with film, which I know is a pathetic thing to say.