Interview Latoya P. Henry
Twice a year designers join together photographers, buyers, editors, influencers, and etc. in one space to enlighten us with their vision for the upcoming season. The gathering we know as Fashion Week goes beyond glitz and glamour. It’s actually a massive family reunion where friends and non-friends alike, show out, and catch up on the desirable trends. What’s interesting about this event, there’s a breakdown of shows, first street style, then runway, and finally we hit the hidden gem, backstage, the place where all the magic begins. During fashion season, the essential focus is the clothes, of course. Yet, there are a few photographers breaking down Fashion Week into their own perspective. Approaching Fashion Week as a time to capture raw emotions of energy, ecstasy and anxiety. Overall, their backstage series blend the intensity of fashion, lifestyle and culture.
Berlin based photographer Heiko Laschitzki, developed a compelling black and white series, which focuses on people, movement and imperfections. Though Laschitzki enjoys fashion and watching a show. He’s part of a new era, who’s creating a refreshing narrative for Fashion Week photography. Enhancing backstage images towards a higher point in contrary to quick flicks.
Let’s face it; throughout each season backstage photography has always concentrated on details that will be featured on the runway, or a run through of the models alone. With Laschitzki, he’s evolving the direction of behind the scenes photography into a suspenseful story, uncovering the beauty in the undone. In addition, Laschitzki shares his perception on how he’s developed his aesthetic, and the medium viewers should observe in his vision.
For quite sometime, I’ve had the pleasure of viewing your expressive series for Berlin Fashion Week. The intensity of your work creates a strong narrative that goes beyond the normal backstage images. What made you decided to photograph Fashion Week, and did you always have an interest in photographing fashion?
Taking pictures at Fashion Week started as a coincidence. A friend of mine is fashion designer, and she asked me to take some pictures for her just before the show. There were some items that were not finished for the lookbook shoot, and she wanted me to photograph some pictures of those. One of my best friends was a model at her show, so I just took some pictures of her during the make up and dressing backstage. I liked these pictures so much that I asked another designer if I could take backstage pictures at his show too and so it started...
I must say, I am interested in fashion, but when I take backstage pictures, it’s more about the people than about the clothes.
Let’s talk about the direction of your work. When did you first start to photograph fashion week backstage. What was the initial idea you wanted to present?
I think this is the fourth year that I’ve done this... so about eight seasons... I am never sure where it takes me. After doing this for two seasons, I had seen so many things, that I started to dig a bit deeper and tried to find the in-between moments before a show. I think I’m always looking for the un-perfect...
When you’re behind the scenes, capturing the developing stages of a designer’s show. Is there an element, you want to unveil to the viewer through your work?
I can´t say... That’s different with every show and designer. Sometimes its a strange make up, sometimes its the dressing of the models, sometimes its just the atmosphere backstage between waiting and stressing out... Whatever it is, a good reportage is like writing, and sometimes it’s just the beauty of the words you put it in.
What is one thing we should grasp from your series?
Frankly I don`t know.
Evidently, there’s a difference between photographing a live show and backstage. In your opinion, explain what’s interesting about photographing behind the scenes instead of a show or presentation, and what are some of the emotions you try to relay through your work?
I think I am always more interested in the un-perfect, human aspect of putting together a show or any other project. I can enjoy very much watching a show, but for reportage I am more interested in how this is put together. I hope my pictures can transport a bit of that atmosphere.
As for the atmosphere, is there a common bond between each designer’s show, and do you attempt to capture that element?
I think no matter how long they are in the business, designers are very tensed before a show, and they just handle it differently. There is this five minutes just before a show, when rehearsal is done and everybody is dressed and standing in line and the last touch ups done by the make up artists and the designer checks if everything fits... This is one of the moments I admire most.
The intensity of your black and white images creates a visual conversation. For several seasons, you featured the majority of your work in this tone. Why did you feel this method works best and what would your like the audience to understand about the mood you’ve created?
By reducing it to black and white it becomes a bit more reportage about the people and what’s going on backstage than about the fashion.
With some photographer’s, the initial goal is to capture a significantly impactful story from their perspective. For you, do feel that you have a signature element behind your work and do you want to create an impactful story or do you prefer a visually stimulating image?
It is both, and it depends on my mood as well as from what’s going on around me. Sometimes there are things going on that make a story interesting and then I would go for the story. Another time I am backstage and everyone is just waiting for the show to start... Then I would take the time and look for the aesthetic in that. Mostly it’s a mixture of both. Some of the pictures are a bit louder; some are quiet... Like in a song.
To further understand Heiko Laschitzki’s aesthetic, how should the audience approach your work, and what is one feeling you intend to leave with the viewer who is fascinated by your visually captivating images?
If my pictures touch the viewer a bit, than I am already happy. We are so used to seeing so many pictures each day, every minute... I hope the viewer can take a bit of time to see my photos and see what the story tells him or her.
What final thoughts do you want to leave with your audience?
There is beauty in un-perfect, uncontrolled, and unfinished.