Anja Matthes grew up in Europe. At 13, she began work as a model. On one of her earlier editorial photo shoots in Cape Town, she wandered from the shoot with camera in hand and stumbled upon a large slum. She returned to the shantytown during her stay, befriending those who lived there and here she discovered the power of photography to document Social Injustice. Years later she completed her Documentary studies at NYU. Her work has appeared publications such as art section cover New York Times, London Portrait, Esquire (NL). Her work with Carlos Benaim (IFF) has been exhibited at The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) Book and Exhibition.
In 2008, after spending time away from her camera, Anja returned to photography, beginning work on a documentary film that examines the lives of young widows in India. The film explores the struggle with societal status that brides face after their husbands pass.
Over the past two years, Anja has worked with LGBTQ youth in NYC. Her collaboration with June, a homeless transgender teenager, on the exhibit "Out-Sight-In In-Sight-Out" at Open Source Gallery introduced Anja to Antwann a member of The House of Bangy Cunts. He invited her to document the house practices and she was eventually initiated into the House.Working with members of the House, Anja has documented the struggles faced by those involved in the Kiki Ballroom scene, which include racism, homelessness, sex work as a method of survival, frequent arrests, and rising HIV rates. The ongoing long-term project has been shown at Rayko Gallery and SF Camera Work in SF.
Born in Europe, Anja has lived in Japan, Costa Rica and USA.