“It’s all about traveling, no matter where I am or on which topic I work .”


For Maja, working with visual media means to travel, be it to explore new places, different ways of life, to explore the own boundaries, or to go on mental travels.

As a visual anthropologist she is mostly interested in people and how they create their lives and identities, which can be illustrated both with documentary and staged motifs.

Maja’s way to look at things is a.o. coined by Indian aesthetics. At a young age, she visited India for the first time to do social work and was fascinated by its rich culture. Later, while studying at Loyola College in Chennai she got into acting and practical photography, but also learned more about the classical Indian art theory, which is based on the concept of rasa. Art is understood as an emotional experience that virtually crosses the boundaries between sender and receiver. Similarly, Maja wants to convey emotions through intensive coloring, as well as through stylized posings and costumes. This can also be seen in documentary images: By aiming for an emic perspective she wants to convey emotions from it.

Also influenced by Indian aesthetics, Maja’s pictures are very dense and symbolic. Layering is a very common principle in her work, particularly obvious in her collages. Here, she deliberately mixes documentary and staged elements.

Another focus of her works evolves around the topic of photography’s influence on psychological well-being, both in relation to the photographer and those being photographed.


Maja is particularly concerned with the mediation of photography. She works as a professor and program leader for „New Media and Intercultural Communication“ at the University of Applied Sciences Landshut (Germany) and as professor for „Media and Photography“ at Ajeenkya DY Patil University (India). Furthermore, she is senior faculty member of the Indian Institute of Photography and regularly lectures at universities in Nigeria, Italy, Indonesia, and Jamaica.

As an artist, she has been giving presentations at events such as Photokina, Nikon Days, the Environmental Photography Festival Zingst, and Fotouni Birkenfeld, gave workshops for the Jamaica Photography Society, Fine Art Brazil, World Art Connects Gran Canaria, and the Masters Conference Grado. She was invited by the Ministries of Tourism of Costa Rica and Indonesia for photography and research. Her work has been widely exhibited and published in numerous books and she has written more than ten practical books about photography and several scientific books and articles. Maja is a Nikon Ambassador, featured in an international Nikon Ad, is Adobe Influencer, and sponsored by Richter Studio Equipment and Nanlite.



Magazines (a.o.): Pictures Magazine (Germany), The Photographic Journal (USA), Docma Magazine (Germany), Digital Photo Magazine (Germany), Hotel Mosaik(Germany), Vintage Flaneur (Grmany), Szeroki Kadr (Poland), Nikon Magazin (Germany), Street Photography Magazine (USA), Eye Magazin (Austria), Revista Origama (Mexico), The Printed Blog (Russia), Dürener and Aachener Zeitung (Germany), Foto Hits (Germany)

Books: Waxmann, Springer, Berghahn, UTB, Rheinwerk, Ibidem, WiKu, DPunkt, Addison Wesley, China Photographic Publishing House, Humboldt, Franzis, Bildner

Videos: Adobe Live, Video2Brain, Foto.tv, Galileo, ZDF Springshow, WDR

Exhibitions (a.o.):  Photokina for Nikon, Photokina for Sony, IIP Gallery Noida & Varanasi (India), Gallery 1717 Königswinter (Germany), Gallery Lichtbild Wiesbaden (Germany), Evolve Foundation Dehradun (India), Gallery Spazio Ginko Rome (Italy), Ginyuu Hamburg, Köln, and Stuttgart (Germany), Lopesan Gran Canaria (Spain), Fototage Pirmasens (Germany), Silicon Vilstal (Germany), Art Basel (Switzerland), Germany Japan Exchange Exhibition (Japan)

Students‘ Exhibitions: Silicon Vilstal (Germany), Gallery Kunst-und-So (Germany), Art RMX (Germany), Universität Trier Foyer (Germany), IIP Gallery Noida (India), Fotouni Trier/Birkenfeld (Germany)

Jury (a.o.): Urban Books Awards / Trieste Photo Days (Italy), Photo+Adventure (Germany), Deutsche Pop (Germany/ UK), Fotoakademie Köln (Germany), Bund Professioneller Porträtfotografen (Germany), World Art Connects (Spain)

Workshops and Lectures (a.o.): University of Nigeria (Nigeria), UNAM (Mexico), The Jamaica Photography Society (Jamaica), Fine Art Brazil (Brazil), Photo Summit Berlin (Germany), Photo Convention Hof (Austria), Fotouni Trier/Birkenfeld (Germany), Photography Masters Conference Grado (Italy), Umweltfotofestival Horizonte Zingst (Germany), Photo+Adventure (Germany), Indian Institute of Photography Tour (India), Fotoakademie Köln (Germany), Photographie-Workshops (Morocco and Italy), Tour Vital (Cuba, India, and China), University of Trier (Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and India)

Invitations from Tourism Ministries: Costa Rica, Indonesia

Sponsoring: Nikon, Sony, Adobe, WhiteWall, Richter Studiogeräte, Nanlite

Scholarships and Grants: OpenVHB, BayIND, BAYLAT, IIP Travel Grant, DAAD, Erasmus, Journalistische Nachwuchsförderung, Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, e-fellows





Scientific Publications




·       Pictures, Covers, Pages. Stuttgart: UTB 2024.

·       A twisted style. New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books 2021.

·       Studienbuch Fotografie. Stuttgart: UTB 2020.

·       Fotografie als Methode. Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag 2020.

·       Partizipative Ansätze für eine nachhaltige Entwicklung. Wiesbaden: Springer 2019 – mit Michael Schönhuth.

·       Therapie vor der Kamera? Zum Potential inszenierter Menschenfotografie. Münster: Waxmann 2018.

·       Kulturelle Identität und Dissonanz. Plakatwerbung in Südindien. Köln: WiKu-Verlag 2011.

·       Glitzer. Aspekte zur Soziologie und Psychologie des Tanzes. Köln: WiKu-Verlag 2006.

·       Abwenden. Plakatwerbung für wohltätige Zwecke. Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag 2005.

·       MedienMacht. Berlin: WiKu-Verlag 2005.

·       Werbung für wohltätige Zwecke im Medium des Plakats. Nordhausen: Bautz-Verlag 2005.


Articles (peer reviewed)


·     upcoming: Creativity between Nihilism and the search for meaning: Zeitgeist and creative innovation in body art. Creativity Studies, 2024.

·     upcoming: Sak Yant as cross-cultural Practice. The Image, 2024.

·     upcoming: A case for Kitsch. Arts and Communication, 2024.

·     Postmodern Affaires. The multiple sides of ethical non-monogamy. Anthropos 120(1), 2024.

·     The body, the spirit, and the other: Yantras as embodied cultural Integration. Social Sciences 13(1), 2024.

·     The Grand Style: Encountering elderly influencers Aisthesis 16(1), 2023.

·    Coping with Crisis. Research Bulletin 4(3), 2023.

·     Approaching spirituality with the help of artistic embodiment. Journal for Interdisciplinary Art and Education 4(1): 23 – 36, 2023.

·     Symbolic Representations. Social media and photogrpahy in Nigeria. Cogent Arts & Humanities 10 (1), 2023, with Nnanna Ndubuisi.

·     Experience and Education. Approaching Kitsch with Rasa Theory. Indian Journal of Social Research 64(1/2), 2023 with Nnanna Ndubuisi.

·     Oriental for a day. Staging oneself as an exotic subject. Anthrovision 9(1). 2022.

·     A versatile tool: photography in the context of participation. Journal of International Cooperaiton and Development 5(3), 2022.

·     I’m bad: The fascination of embodying the evil in a virtual world. Virtual Creativity Research, 12 (2), 2022.

·     Gaining and Losing Control: Tattoos and interpretive sovereignty. Signs and Society 10(1), 2022

·      Unreadable: the pictorial side of text elements, Media Practice and Education, DOI: 10.1080/25741136.2022.2039995

·       Misplaced messages – Social Media promoting self-love. Indiana Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 3 (2), 2022.

·       “Every frame has some touch of Indian culture to it” – Reflections on an Indian Style of Photography. South Asia Research, 44 (1), 2022.

·       Leaving the Body behind. Embodiment as a Chance to overcome the Body. HAU Journal of Ethnographic Theory 11 (3), 2021.

·       Staging the Other. Orientalism in contemporary Media. Arte, Individuo y Sociedad 33(4): 1329-1346, 2021.

·       Participatory knowledge construction. Researching South-Asian Aesthetics. SunText Review of Arts & Social Sciences 2(3), 2021, with Gaurav Verma.

·       Pictures of Resonance. Thoughts on an international film project. Pictures Science 3, 2021 – mit Houmehr Etminani.

·       Ugly on the Internet. From #authenticity to #selflove. Visual Studies 36 (1), 2021.

·       Boys at their Best. Cultural Values and Self-Presentation on Social Media. Journal of Media and Management 3 (1), 2021.

·       Arrogantly looked at – The status of the recipient in High Fashion Photography Fashion, Style and Popular Culture, Special Issue: Eroticism, Photography & Design 8 (2), 2021.

·       Das Selbst modellieren. Musik-, Tanz- und Kunsttherapie 30 (1), 2021.

·       Two Media and their Implications. Culture and Society. Journal of Social research 12 (1), 2020.

·       Dissonances of a Modern Medium: Alienating and Integrating Aspects of Photography. Aisthesis 13 (2), 2020.

·       The Body As Canvas As Picture. Bodypainting and its Implications for the Model. International Journal of Cultural and Arts Studies, 4 (2), 2020.

·       Drowning Self. Staging the Charm of the Strange, the Power of the Different, the Beauty of Death. Antrocom Journal of Anthropology 16 (2), 2020.

·       Corona: New Contents and Chronologies. International Journal of Latest Research in Humanities and Social Sciences 3 (6), 2020.

·       A liberating experience. On Becoming a Work of Art. Creativity. Theories – Research – Applications 7(2), 2020, 411-430.

·       Picturing Hybrids. Hybrid Creatures in Staged Photography. Journal of Philosophy, Culture and Religion 3, 2020.

·       Chronology in Social Media: Linear Media and Non-linear Postings. Global Media Journal 18, 2020.

·       A non-linear style. Contradictions surrounding dreadlocks. Anthropos 115 (1), 170-181, 2020

·       Kommunikation, Kreativität, Konzept. Inszenierte Menschenfotografie unter der Oberfläche. Communicatio Socialis 53 (3), 2020.

·       Kein Fokus auf das Foto. Fotografieren als Aktivität. kommunikation@gesellschaft 21, 2020.

·       Staged Authenticity. How the „Real“ is created in model photography. Visual Ethnography 9 (1), 2020.

·       The Lady with Horns. Exposure Magazine. Society for Photographic Education 53 (1), 2020.

·       Identity without Similarity: The Relation between the Individual and her Picture. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies 10 (2), 2019.

·       Trends in Visual Media. Analysing Pictures Magazine. Pictures Science 1 (1), 2019.

·       Schwarze Kinderaugen und weiße Westen. Darstellungen in der Plakatwerbung für wohltätige Zwecke. Cargo 27, 2006.

·       Zurück zum Stamm? Tribal Dance als neues Lebensgefühl. Musik-, Tanz- und Kunsttherapie 13 (4), 2002.


Contributions to edited volumes

·      The Art of Pleasing. In: Creativity, hrsg. v. Mohamed Shafizan. Rijeka & London: Intech.

·       Selfie for Psyche. In: SnAPPshots, hrsg. v. Ulrich Hägele und Judith Schühle. Münster: Waxmann, 2021.

·       Shoot a Girl: Gender and Staging. A Dispositif Analysis. In: Changing Paradigm in New Media, hrsg. v. Arvind Kumar Pal. Bhopal: Nitya Publications, 2021.


Film und intermediäres Projekt

·       You+me. International & intermediary short film project, lead by Andrea Sunder-Plassmann and Houmehr Etminani.

·       Von der Collage zur Bricolage. Facetten einer ethnologischen Indienexkursion. Trier: Universität Trier 2013 – with Johannes Zwilling.


Conception of study programs and modules

·       Bachelor Neue Medien und interkulturelle Kommunikation. University of Applied Sciences Landshut.

·       Master of Photography. Outline of University Course Indian Institute of Photography, 2018 – with Rajesh Goyal.

·       Partizipation und Nachhaltige Entwicklung. Module for the technical university Kaiserslautern, 2018.

·       Bachelor of Media Design. Outline of University Course, United POP, 2016 – with Martin Lebioda.



·       Common Ground Research Network

·       Pictures Science

·       Feminist Media Studies




Publications with practical focus and art


Monographs (selection)

·       Menschen und Kulturen. Ethnographische und Reisefotografie. Haar/ München: Franzis Verlag, 2018.

·       Neue Ideen für die Porträtfotografie. Workshops für inszenierte Bilder. Hannover: Humboldt Verlag, 2018.

·       Kreative Modelfotografie. Heidelberg: DPunkt Verlag, 2016.

·       Inszenierte Peoplefotografie. Menschen konzeptuell in Szene gesetzt. Heidelberg: Dpunkt Verlag, 2014.

·       Jie mi – mo te she ying („entschlüsselt – Menschenfotografie“). Beijing: China Photographic Publishing House, 2013.

·       Besondere Techniken in der Modelfotografie. München: Pearson Photo, 2013.


Magazine article series

·       Medienpsychologie, 2018-2020, Pictures Magazin

·       Medienanalyse, 2016-2018, Pictures Magazin

·       Kunstgeschichte in Bildern 2014-2016, Docma Magazin

·       Blick hinter die Kulissen, 2014-2016, Pictures Magazin


International Journals (selection)

·       The Photographic Journal, U.S. 2020

·       Szeroki Kadr, Polen 2020

·       Nikon Pro Magazin, U.K. 2019

·       Street Photography Magazine, U.S. 2017

·       Eye Magazin, Österreich 2015

·       Revista Origama, Mexiko 2012

·       The Printed Blog, Russland 2012


Videos & DVDs

·       Night Light. Nikon Werbespot für das Spitzenmodell Z 7 2018.

·       Posing. Graz: Video2Brain 2013.

·       Die Tricks der PS-Profis Volume III. Bonn: Galileo 2012 – mit Uwe Braunschweig, Christian Hecker, Tobias Roetsch und Peter Braunschmid.

·       Power Workshops: Bildlooks mit Photoshop – Verschiedene Bildstile gestalten. Graz: Video2Brain (DVD) 2010 – mit Michael Baierl und Olaf Giermann.