Stas Reuth – Interview
How did you get into fashion photography? Are you interested in other directions?
I started shooting a long time ago, about 5-6 years ago. But it was more like a hobby. I worked in a magazine, and sometimes I had to take the camera into my own hands. I was always interested in photography. Once, in my first year of university, I even participated in a photo contest where I had to come up with a concept and shoot a story on my phone’s camera. Then I took either the second or the third place, and the prize was a clamshell mobile phone, that Sitara Ibrahimova presented me. As for the direction, it’s interesting for me to tell stories through the prism of fashion, images and characters. I like to change people in my photos. Perhaps, in the near future I will try to combine fashion photography and art, but this is still an outline in my head.
What can you recommend to an aspiring fashion photographer: to read, to see?
I am an aspiring photographer myself. I always repeat quote by Diana Vreeland: “The eye has to travel”. As to me, it is important to see as many as possible things. You need to study the history of fashion and photography (not just fashion photography), watch iconic films and music videos, read classical literature and fantasize over and over . And then pick up camera and try to realize these fantasies.
Is it important for you that other people talk about your works?
Not really. Sometimes I’m interested in hearing opinion of people that hold some authority for me. But overall, I don’t really follow reviews or comments.
Do you think fashion photography should carry any message? Or is it purely aesthetic matter?
It all depends on the specific story and objectives. Sometimes a table is just a table. I think it’s not always necessary to invest or look for a deeper meaning in art. Photography is primarily a frozen moment. And sometimes the main message is simply to be able to capture the moment.
You have experience working as a model. What is more pleasant – to be in the lens of the photographer or behind camera?
Of course it’s nicer and easier to be in front of the camera, less responsibility. When you take pictures, the volume of responsibility increases at times.
Did you ever have to refuse to shoot? What factors contributed to this?
Yes, and quite often. I am a perfectionist and very demanding, first of all, towards myself. I always strive for a competent attitude to work, starting from time management and ending with small details. If I see that the approach to the work is not serious and unprofessional, then I easily refuse. Because the result of my work, is not only my merit. This is the result of the responsible work of the entire team that I trust. If the game is not worth the candle, then why torment yourself and everyone around you, giving birth to every frame in heavy anguish and, as a result, not be satisfied. And I can refuse if I’m just not interested in idea or if I know that another photographer can do it better. Very often, those who don’t even cast a glance at my book turn to me thinking that photographer is a person who takes photo of everything: food, weddings, an item, a report, fashion and so on. However, these are all different genres with its talents.
I would like to ask you about the graffiti work by by Carolina Falkholt at the “Kombinat Festival”. More precisely, deleting a painting by an artist under the pretext of mentality – does it violate freedom of expression or not? Did you face censorship during your career?
This is a difficult question with lots of hidden hazards. If you ask for a definite answer – then it is no. But once you analyse situation – possibly yes. It is worth asking why and what for an artist makes a provocative work. Provocation for the sake of provocation – it is a good PR, however bad reputation. Modern art is an elitist and for small circle of people. And if this kind of work doesn’t show up in a gallery, but in a public place, then I think you have to think of the consequences. People are different, and they have different levels of understanding things. I think an artist shall have a sense of self-censorship and respect towards audience in general, shall consider particular sides of audience mindset and its level of acceptance of contemporary art. I think we must not be radical, but look for new and softer ways of inclusion of masses into non-standard visual languages of artists. If this is what we want. Anything new is accepted ambiguously and with fear. No, I’m not into censorship ban. I’m for dialogue.
Who would like to have a conversation with from fashion world or fashion photography world? You can choose whoever has lived up until now.
I would like to have a conversation with Grace Coddington, as well as hang out with Yves Saint Laurent in 1975.
Where are you exhibited?
I think one must be exhibited when they have something to say or show. I’m quite critical towards myself. However, sometimes I think about exhibitions too. They say it helps you to get promoted and have successful career.
Do you make enough money for living?
It is enough for modest life.
One of the famous photographers has a saying that the best fashion has always been on the street and will always be on the street. What can you say about Baku street fashion?
At some point, I agree with Bill Cunningham. He was astonishing person, I was lucky to meet and have a short conversation with him in Paris. He was really obsessed with people and their images. This is him who came up with the genre of street style. However, I have to mention something here. Before street style was about people, but now it is an industry with its own rules, stars and ad contents. This makes me sad. Magic has disappeared. I can not say anything positive about street style in Baku. It is very rare that you can meet really cool and stylish people on the street – and if you do, they are either certain subculture representatives or “city’s crazy people”. In all other cases, nothing really nameworthy. Just people in clothes.
Who are your most favorite and most followed fashion photographers?
I can not say I have a “golden child”. There are photographers that have been interesting to me in different stages of my life. Today I follow Sølve Sundsbø, Hugo Comte, Willy Vanderperre and many others. These are the first names that have come to my mind.
How would you describe your style?
I’m searching for my own style in photography. But I can say that I definitely like naturality and charisma of model.
Do you think a person’s color choices should change according to their mood or trend, fashion?
Everybody chooses whatever is comfortable and responds to their personal requests. Surely, one can study trends, color types and other fashion wisdom for a long time. But the main question one must respond is “Do I like it?”, if the answer is yes, then go ahead! However, if to analyse it from perspective of psychology and color therapy, then I think your color choice depends on your mood.
When will the era of serious-looking models end? In any fashion house collection, 99% of the models on the catwalk have a serious face, they don’t smile, looking straight, as if you are in a robot catwalk – can we say this is never getting old fashion in a fashion world?
I think it already ended a couple of years ago. Just look at the latest Issey Miyake show. It all depends on the request of the brand itself or the designer, which sent their message to the art directors and directors of the show. Strong face – is convenient when you need to draw attention to clothing, not to the model. This is some way to depersonalize the model. If the stars are lit, then someone needs it.
Second hand clothes are very popular in the world now. In Azerbaijan, this interest is just beginning. Do you wear second-hand clothes yourself?
Yes, of course. And I have been doing this myself for many years. If before it was the only way to purchase a foreign item at a budget price, today the reason behind it is that sometimes you can find interesting vintage in second-hand shop and it is not only good-quality items, but you also do not overpay for the brand. I have one taboo – I never buy shoes in these stores.
What are must–have things in one’s wardrobe?
I think it’s a win-win option – to have a basic wardrobe. It is simple both in compilation and wearing. It is enough to have classic jeans, a pair of T-shirts (in white, gray or black colors), sneakers or boots, a coat of strict cut and a neutral color sweater. In this scenario, you will always look good. The main thing to maintain neatness in appearance.
Do you have your favorite element in Azerbaijan national costumes?
I like the man’s papakha. Perhaps this is the only element of the national costume that has survived to this day and is still relevant.
What qualities and features one needs to have in order to get into the lens of Stas Reuth?
(this is not about commercial shootings)
Be open to experiments and getting out of your comfort zone.