There has never been a time when visuals have been as crucial as they are now… Which is why we are after photographers who easily connect photography to fashion and art, as much as sociology, who can add their own touch, and most importantly, tell their own stories. Our excitement after seeing frames that help us breathe amidst the visual pollution brought to us via social media. One thing we’re sure of is that now is the time for photographers creating their own stories. We asked 5 females of the new generation about their visual languages, and their takes on the perception of fashion.
Do you think it’s fair to change the reality of a visual for the sense of beauty or strength in post-production?
Reality is a very relative notion, I can only explain it like this; sometimes you can’t achieve the imagery in your head with production. That’s when you need various post-production tools. As oppose to it being fair or not, it is up to the person producing the work, you might say.
How would you define an esthetic?
Esthetics and beauty are very relative. In my understanding of esthetics lies the naive and sensible approach to one’s own production. The esthetic concept also discusses ones own growth and production. The most important thing is for the person to approach their work with precision.
Can you talk about your process when preparing for a fashion shoot? What do you get inspired from?
From art, nature, people and their stories, colors, architecture, music… We should’t bind it down to fashion. It’s all production. I first decide on a subject and find the place. Sometimes that person finds me. The last project I worked on deals with a trans person and her take on life. I used to read a lot of critiques during that time about gender, the media, and beauty. During that period, I witnessed this person’s story. Sometimes the stories you are thinking of or wanting to produce surprisingly come to you.
“My favourite fashion – documentation photo, Chloe Sevigny’s portrait by Wolfgang Tilmas in 1995.”
Fashion, beauty, art… What does the job require, considering these are highly variable factors? How do you keep yourself current?
It’ actually very hard and requires a high level of concentration. Because it’s easy to distance yourself from the world you want to reflect due to social media, TV, and other fast-pace formats that cause visual pollution… Before, it was harder to get away from your emotions and visual filters since everything had a slower pace. This is why I try to surround myself with worlds I want to be in and visuals I’m trying to shoot. That is what being current is all about actually, trying to be yourself.
Fashion photography is also interpreted as objectifying the individual. What would you like to say about this?
This unfortunately exists considering fashion and advertisement photography. I look at photography in a completely opposite way. I think it needs to be a medium that completely liberates and frees someone. As oppose to what is being said, fashion pushes people in the subject of ‘self-representation and identity’ for them to observe themselves, this is why it’s sociologically interesting.
Which fashion photographers get you excited about the medium?
Juergen Teller has always been a photographer that got me excited. I find a different detail every time I see a photo by him. Claudia Knoepfel and Stefan Indlekofer are also photographers that excite me nowadays. From time to time, I look at their photography and get inspired. Actually, a lot of photographers who have a refined eye and are unique excite me.
What is the line where a photographer is accepted as an artist?
I think what makes a photographer an artist is the intention behind photography. The photographer has to decide whether he is an artist or not. What makes a photograph art is very different compared to other sectors, because there is also the camera between the photographer and their subject. Where the photo is being exhibited, where it goes to press and the people in it can make it artistic.
“Fashion can create a character that fits every sinle mood. What makes it exciting is defining a new identity while doing it.”
How do you make sure that your concerns on aesthetics are secondary when it comes to the emotional context of fashion photography?
They actually have to be balanced. If you only focus on the message the work gives, than the aesthetically touch of the photographer will be lost. Our job is visual-oriented. I care deeply about the initial reaction one gives to my images. When they can’t differentiate between whether I’ve focused on my aesthetic or the product itself, the result is satisfying to me.
How would you define the role of a fashion photographer in the world of fashion today?
We’re actually a team with everyone who work in different parts of the sector. A process which begins with a designer’s dream, continues as far as us photographers having to present it correctly to the audience. It’s a gratifying result when everyone works in harmony.
Do you avoid working with someone who is not a model?
I can say that I enjoy taking pictures of someone who is not a model more. Forming a relationship with that person, trying to understand their character and translate that visually is an enjoyable process.
“This image is from the series I exhibited at Lucca along with Midnightexpress. My website also opens with this image. I love that it is clean, mysterious, and provocative.”
What makes taking pictures meaningful for you?
My excitement, for sure.
When planning a shoot, do you go to the set having planned everything; in total control of the run-down of the day, or do you come together with the crew and improvise; letting the set flow?
Usually everything is planned and under control for my set, however my crew and I don’t say no to spontaneity. If we’re happy with the end-result, we’re okay with free styling as well. However the first must is to be following a plan. The rest is the magical part of the job.
How do you interpret a fashion photographer’s mission nowadays?
Considering how everyone is somewhat in the know when it comes to fashion, I believe that fashion photographers are supposed to offer different visions and should be innovative.
How do you form the relationship between photography, fashion, and art?
I objectify everything I want to express with photography. It doesn’t necessarily have to be fashion photography. Fashion is a tool that is helpful while I produce a picture, and sometimes it is a must. I am interested in people; their relationships, beliefs, climates, cultures, sub-cultures, ideologies, habits, pleasures, and pains. I am also interested in socio-cultures and economic structure, and how the world we live in works right now. I can’t bypass fashion in this sense, because dressing up is a social activity, and how you dress is about your identity that you want / do not want to show. What you want to hide or show is again about your surroundings. And sometimes its their imposition. That’s what I’m interested about. Of course there are designers I like and follow, I’m also intrigued by brands. The story and the identity is more important to me. The part that has something to do with art is a little over my head.
How does the creation process of the story of the shoot differ from one another, what kind of research process do you go through?
I start with an issue or a question, it could be third-page news or a success story, miraculous situations or traumatic tales, or it could be an artist giving me inspiration. I can get inspired by my next-door neighbour or the grocer.Other than visual materials, I try to read as much as I can. Words and sentences help me form a visual.
Do you think photography should be a true representative of reality?
Everything we produce have something to with reality. When we talk about a true representations, considering there are many versions of the truth, we can’t talk about one accurate portrayal. This is how photography branches out and creates various movements. The questions is how much of your own truth (whether it’s your imagination or your reality) you can put forward using the tools and materials you choose.
“I didn’t plan on fictionalising this picture like this. The clothing that the model was supposed to put on didn’t fit her and we took the picture when she only had her arms through. I like the fact that the person who was helping her get dressed is in the picture, connecting with the audience. On the other hand, I see trails of Maner’s Olympia and Botticelli’s Venus.”