The “wardrobe complex” or how to creatively look back. #throwbacktuesday

Good morning everyone,

I took part two weekends ago of the Kunstrasen exhibition in Trier. What’s that? A summery local cultural event allowing a bunch of enthusiastic people to share their arts with the crowd, outside in the sun, on the grass.

-“What will you actually exhibit?”
-Haaa… Hum… Tough one…
-you don’t know yet? It’s in a week!!
-… I know…

Then, It’s basically about browsing your photos (photos in my case, paintings for others…etc) and pick a few ones to show. Cause frankly my stack of photos is the real mess.
It was out of question to exhibit single series, because I would not find this very representative. I enjoy very much starting new small projects with new people but I’m not much the long run guy…

Or am I?

I found it a very interesting exercise and took lessons from it that I thought I should share with you.

More recently I turned my camera (camera only, don’t worry I’m fine) towards the dark side. As a matter of fact I more and more tend to think it was turned towards the wrong direction for too long. And just like a long lasting muscular effort, your mind and body slowly start to give up to come back to a more natural and resting position. In a way, it takes a lot from me to shoot any joyful event as I rest in the dark.

Back to our sheep, I knew I wanted to pick something more actual, in terms of mindset. I had a few recent pictures aside that could have matched and all, but this would not have been enough for filling my allocated exhibition space.
I came up with the idea of browsing through all my series in search for pictures that would work along.

Whether you are using analog negatives or raw digital files, what you are presenting to the viewer as “your photograph” is one possible way of processing this “negative” among an infinite number of possibilities. The idea is then to look at all those negatives and “reinterpret them” in a new light; take out photos from their former series and inject them into your new project to create a new meaning contextualised by the all new set of pictures. Still following?

Let’s use a well known issue we will call the “wardrobe complex” for that matter:
Ok, so over the past few years you bought about a hundred kilograms of clothes that now lay in your wardrobe waiting for the perfect occasion. Some you could enjoy wearing everyday, some you only wore once (In the shop)…
Then you receive this Facebook event notification, asking you to join for the opening of your local urban outfitter…right? (Is this still swag? Is “swag still swag?).
You got confused, as I would be…
Luckily, you just found that amazing neo-grunge t-shirt but you could not buy sh…t to wear along. So, you browse through your wardrobe and “recycle” all those stuff you never had a chance to wear, combine creatively this half billion clothes item till you find the one look you were looking for. Got it? Ok, now brag a minute in front of your mirror and go give all what’s left to charity please.

Why is this so interesting? In my case, it helped me to actually visualise how much my practice of photography changed over the last few years. It helped me to measure the influence of all those photo books I read, the people I met, the projects I came across over the past few years. Very literally like browsing through your childhood photo album.
Moreover I found that my mess of picture surprisingly was much more coherent than what I thought. I found a common core to all my series, just like a seed I m willing to grow from now, a roadmap with a goal!

No wonder why all those #throwbacktuesday online initiatives are so successful.

So, now? What’s in your wardrobe?

Here is mine 😉









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10 Things you should stop photographing right now!!

Disclaimer: Since you never care much about what I write in this blog, I invite you to continue this way. My photos are mostly as full of cliches as yours, so let’s get out together without our cameras, a few excellent photo books under the arm and let’s drink ourself up to oblivion (but don’t spill your drink over the pages of my books or you will reach oblivion much quicker than me!)

So let’s go! 10 things you should just abandon:

1. The random flying hip nude in the forest:

There was not a single day in the last 5 years, without a “random flying hip nude in the forest” appearing under a banner “new incredibly mesmerizing original emerging talent”.
Ok we got it, it’s not funny anymore! Some do it very well, sometimes with subtle and interesting variations… But watching such series feels like being invited for a holiday film projection party in the 90’s after your neighbor came back from Luxor. After 10 pics you are done with it… You know what I mean?

2. The “I am young and even when I don’t do s***t, it looks awesome”:

Well, stop it! First because it makes ME feel terribly old (and I’m only 31!). Second because this moustache makes you look ugly. You look like you are a Californian surfer except that there is no sea here, nor California. Let those people do their business and start taking care of yours!
I mean serious here, this iconography might look cool because life on those pics look effortless, hair in the wind, awesome bikini girls laying on the bed, removing their clothes for no reason and all… FREEDOM!

You can still have a look at Larry Clark incredible career… All good for the mind.

But does it have anything to do with you?
Where you live, the wind is cold, any stylish divergence will lead you up to jail (or at least judgemental look from mr everyone) and your friends look crap. Well good news: it doesn’t matter! Be creative your own way, picture genuinely what surrounds you in a honest manner. No need to photograph that girl in a “Cali” style to prove us that you are young, in love but not too much… and cool.

3. HDR:

WHY?!? I recently saw a YouTube video describing the vast majority of HDR pictures seen online as a “fountain of Skittles popping out of the ass of an elephant”. The technique was meant to reveal subtle details in highlights and shadows, not to rape your photograph of an anyway boring subject with a Panzer! Just DON’T!

4. The mermaid:

Is there an obsessive tendency in the photog world for photographing mermaids? I don’t mind mermaids really, mermaids might actually be hot if I think about it… In a way… Without the fishy thingy… We’ll forget about it and get back to our sheep!
Why no siren? Because in 99.9999% of the cases you make that poor pretty girl look like a TUNA in the river Mosel 😮
Somehow that sub genre just does not work at all if it isn’t flawless. Model, post-prod and setting must be perfect or the whole thing looks like crap. You still want to do it? Take this piece of advice: be unmerciful with yourself if you still want to do it. A Mermaid shooting deserves full commitment for location, model, styling and all. It. Does not bear mediocrity that would look unbelievably cheap. Here is what it potentially could look like if you do so:

model: lexi boling (ford)
photographer: laurie bartley (managementartists)
stylist: felipe mendes
hair: romina manenti (see)
make-up: ayami nishimura

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5. Your geographical g-spot shooting:

For every city it’s photo landmark. You recognise it by googling the name of your town.
I remember a friend attending a photo course in Magdeburg (Germany), photographically famous for its factory ruins. First lesson, the teacher warns everyone: “I swear I kill the next student coming to me with an essay about this bloody factory!”.

In my area, next to Luxembourg, most of the photographers rush to the ultramodern “philarmony” to picture a model breathtakingly looking at the sky like she herself is rushing to long missing oxygen… I’m not saying all those are bad but com’on’! Is this truly the only location available any near around?? DO A TINY EFFORT PLEASE!

6. Ophelia:

Another water related subject… Ophelia is slowly abandoning life in the water, dies, go over it!
There are billlllions of those all over any online photo platform and you think you are the first one coming up with the idea? Your model might get seriously cold and the chance for the result to be nearly as good as the pre-raphaelite landmark is next to zero. And why Ophelia? Same applies for the girl with the pearl earring. What a weird idea to copy a painting masterpiece that reached such cultural height, precisely because it’s a painting. Once more: Ophelia is dead, go over it.

It is however not completely hopeless:

Gregory Crewdson – Ophelia from the excellent “twilight” series

Alessandra Sanguinetti – “Guile and Belinda and the enigmatic meaning of their dreams”

7. The “Helsinki school is so OMG” school:

So yes Helsinki school was so OMG. Can we move on now? Let me briefly explain: This movement brought us a handful of amazingly talented people. Their common point? Hard to explain (a picture is worth a thousand words they say, so try to imagine a whole school of photos…). Something delicate yet deep, uncanny and somehow romantic at the same time. All highlighted photographers being very different from one another tho. In photography, the term school is associated with Dusseldorf whose statement was loud and clear; here is nothing like that with Helsinki.

The sublime work of Anni Leppala from the Helsinki School

The result? 3 billions girls in vintage dresses looking lost while making love to trees in the dark forest. Is this really all you retained from your northern heroes? This is enough!
Same applies to girls in vintage dresses looking lost in an abandoned house playing with vintage toys; or girls in vintage dresses looking lost half hidden in a red berries bush.

P.s. Danger! A mutating trend currently tries to mix sub genres to create Flying nude hipsters girls looking lost after playing vintage toys in an abandoned house filled up with plants… Don’t let this be happening!

8. The homeless:

Taken with a tele lense, black and white, with crap weather, heavy sharpening, high contrast and high vigneting? No! Getting a close up would be any better? No! Have you got creative energy to spend? Spend it helping them the real way. This practice doesn’t raise awareness, it doesn’t remind to anyone that they are humans like you and me (don’t laugh, I heard that one before). If you still want to do so, then engage them properly, long term, and you d better have really intelligent and creative ideas than just portraits. All else is a populist attempt to flatter your own portfolio by adding a “social” category to it. No go!

Kitra Cahana can however inspire us with her Rainbow festival series.

9. Photos of someone else’s good work, claiming it’s your good work:

A little while ago, I came across an artist photographer homepage with a picture of an awesome window shop arrangement of hats. Great composition, offered to the street wanderer by the hat seller. The photo was black and white and all the hats were carefully arranged. A very balanced composition. But wait… Whose work was this? Ok I get it: the shop keeper frames it, sweat his arse off to present something nice and you just steal it by tripoding your camera and pressing the shutter? It sounds like plagiarism to me, doesn’t it sound like plagiarism to you?

If you do so, please at least quote the name of the shop (which the photog didn’t do). You can of course sublime it all using the photographic medium, but be kind with the person who did the hard work for you. This also applies to live performance photography, but now you know what I mean.

10. Projects justified through psychobabbling 10 pages of artistic statements:

Your project is nice, why would you ruin it with an undecipherable artistic statement? Sorry but meaningful ones are rather the exceptions and are mostly written by people who really know what they are talking about… I know you have to provide your teacher, gallerists or audience with one so they can wrap their cup of champagne in it to keep it expensive… How often have you returned to your usual business after reading one of them? Keep it simple and meaningful.

Conclusion: don’t take all this too seriously. As long as you are having fun, this should just be ok 😉 I’m not targeting anyone, just having a bit of fun!

With love for all your good work,


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5 tips to engage people for street style pictures #photography #streetstyle #trier #luxembourg

Some summers ago, a giant computing company released an ad campaign about people who uses current technologies to create new sorts of job that would simply not exist otherwise. Nothing linked with high end chips nor high power calculators but rather creative use of what was already existing and available to everyone. Mr. Schumman, also known as the Sartorialist is one of them.


His idea? Going out and look for fashion in the streets of NY, Paris or Milano, shooting regular people with a creative mind for styling composition and share it to the world.
Besides giving back power to the end users of fashion, Scott was creatively using street photography and make something new out of century old street photography rules…

Just google “fashion” to understand his influence. Sartorialist certainly wasn’t first but he certainly was fuel to fire.

I thought I could join the effort and modestly participate in collecting these kind of images. When you live in Trier at the lost corner of Germany, where no decent connection to a fashion metropolis is left to you, you need to think creatively.
Is Trier and it’s region filled with fashionistas? Hmmm no… You surely find people here and there but there is no critical mass. In fact, most edgy people go for shopping elsewhere at some remote shopping paradise. The fashion supplies are here limited with a focus on selling what sells, while alternative thinkers tend to struggle to convince a local audience. Here, original = expensive (mostly).

The ironic title SaarTrierialist came while confronting face to face this terrible TRUTH.

The solution?

Celebrating local efforts.

Partly a collection of nice people, partly a celebration of local identity trying to engage more global codes with its tiny voice.
The first picture came out with a desire of not letting go a guy who obviously had dressed to impress on a busy downtown Saturday afternoon. I showed him a few pics from my phone, told him I was willing to start this larger project… The man felt somehow flattered, accepted and took the pose with the promise of the final product being delivered in his mailbox.

With an acceptance rate of more than 75% of the people I asked, I always considered this project a success. People saying yes was the sign that it pleased them to be recognised as such. I remember saying to a lady that I liked the tiny “risks” she took, embedding different original pieces of jewellery, colors and styles. I told her that one could really see she made a little extra effort there to be fancy, not just the standard way. Her kind answer was “I m glad someone eventually recognised this”. Now I am sure I wasn’t the only one, but doesn’t that please you when someone comes to you to tell you how cool you look?

To me It always felt like I was celebrating this along with them.

A couple of months later I got contacted by a local magazine who offered me to work with them, featuring about 6 pictures per trimester. This brought the level of seriousness to a much higher level.
I have collected nearly about hundred of those portraits all taken in the streets of Trier and Luxembourg within the last 3 years.

So! Now you would like to do something similar? Here are a few tips for you:

1. Choose your lense wisely: Most of the shots were taken with a 70-200mm f/2.8 or 50mm f/1.4 (Full frame) – Temptation for always opening max for bokeh is big but remember it needs to look sharp… f/4 is safe zone in my experience.

2. When you see someone you like, just go and ask them. JUST GO and ASK THEM! You would be surprise how often they say yes. Some of them actually became very good friends of mine. So be friendly without being a cheese and everything should be alright!

3. Carry release forms with you. No release forms means no possibility for publication. You will find a ton of them for free online, ready to print. I occasionally used EASY RELEASE for IOS: Helpful.

4. Be patient, anticipate, scout and go where stylish people are; wandering all day long in empty streets is anything but joy.

5. Make sure their E-mail address is correctly written and send them the pics… It s a minimal requirement!

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Share your discoveries with us! Inject your own ideas into it and show us your good work. The more you do it, the easier.

You will find an extract of that collection of smiley people at free to have a look and leave a comment, the people who are pictured may probably read them 😉

Have a lot of fun outside!

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Fashion editorials, a high standard selection juuuust for ya!

When was last time I showed you magical editorial spreads? Too long? Long enough for me to gather exceptional material for you to escape reality along with me, the time of a screen print.
Take my hand, I take you along with me!

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

‘6-0’ Ataui Deng by Julia Noni for Fat Man SS 2014 [Editorial]
(source: Fashion Copious)

Fat Man SS 2014
Photographer: Julia Noni
Stylist: Simon Rasmussen
Model: Ataui Deng

One of those “minimalist shots” that make you feel like a crappy photog when you see it. I don’t know where that series lead you to but it’s somehow not on this planet despite the reality anchors it holds. Ohhhhhh enjoy!



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Formento & Formento: Through the Eyes of Global Nomads

Read the interview and see a dozen more photographs from this amazing couple of artists at the edge of fashion and fine arts. A MUST! An instant classic playing with traditional Japanese visual codes and injecting this dose of nervous technique modern machines allow you to play with… Remember who create the cameras you handle 😉




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Gilt trip: edie campbell by tim walker for w may 2014

model: edie campbell (dna)
photographer: tim walker
stylist: jacob k (streeters)
hair: christiaan
make-up: sam bryant (dandv)

Seeing Tim Walker’s name written somewhere is a bit like hearing the fanfare approaching. It sounds it s going to be huge, popular, colourful, kitschy a bit and very noisy… Yet you feel totally excited! No bunnies or English countryside for that one but a spiritual retreat.


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(Source: paradiso artificiale: mia stass by luca bellumore for d la repubblica 10th may 2014 on visual optimism)

model: mia stass (mp)
photographer: luca bellumore
stylist: laura bianchi
hair: enrico mariotti (see)
make-up: yumi lee (latelier)

This flawless shooting reveals you the ultimate trick of photography: you enjoy being deceived!


The work of Damien Elroy

Photographer: Damien Elroy
Model: Natascha Haack
MakeUp and Hair: Aennikin
Treats! Magazine Exclusive
Portfolio: Damien Elroy

Beautiful series of nude photographs in artist atelier. Colours, shapes, mood and fine compositional choices!


Life is short, eat dessert first! Enjoy! 🙂

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What All Of This Is About

Sincere and genuine

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A photo book about nightmares, knights and hell? Or is it just about a race…

Whenever you travel to Hamburg, Deichtorhalle is a must for you photo lover. They have one of my favorite museum dedicated to photography there and their photo book shop is my pit stop. I tend to order most of my books through the Internet because they are not exactly available in Trier nor anywhere around. Shame shame… but I m best placed to know that it is a niche and that not many people care about photo books. But going as far as claiming a photo book shop should be open in every city is delusional. Things are slowly changing tho, partly thanks to the self-publish revolution and the remarkable work of new popping talented edition houses everywhere. To own one or two photo books nowadays is a bit like displaying Trout Mask Replica from captain Beefheart on top of your vinyls pile and pretend you enjoy the music Vaaaeeerrry much (sigh). Noobs might give you credit for that.

Going to Deichtorhalle photo books store (or Motto Berlin or 25Books Berlin, name yours, there aren’t many anyway) is what we should all head for though… I m going to spare you with the saveyourlocalshop chorus, nothing new here. What remains interesting though is the IRL suggestion factor that definitely completely outmatches any online algorithm.
I walk in, turn around the shop, recognizes everything, get frustrated, then simply ask the shop manager what’s cracking and end up with a bomb in the hands.

This offensive grenade is called SPEEDWAY from MARTINA HOOGLAND IVANOW and I have never heard of it before. I literally was just leaving the shop when they called me back, yelling “wait wait wait there is something here we all are in love with, something that you should see!”. He grabbed a copy of that sober book from a not so hidden pile and ironized something about the book title.

Ok! So, what is this all about?

Frankly at first you don’t really know… If you know what speedway is and therefore expect shiny motorbikes on a Dakota track with hot chicks taking the pose in front of sponsor signs you may be deceived (But now you know what speedway refers to).

Here are dark photos printed on black paper that seems to come from some sort of black hole, sucking you in at the very first glance. What seems first to be warriors in armor praying their last breath out in the snow, slowly turns out to be some sort of extreme northern motocross bench of pilots racing in the dark. But the gap between reality and phantasy is very thin here. Flicker the book five seconds in the busy environment of the shop and you end up in a world where the sun is for long extinguished, where people are fighting wars for survival against an unbeatable enemy.


So is it reportage? It seems however so… No artificial lighting, no technical tricks besides color grading and under exposure, just what a speedway race can be. Yet it looks like you passed the doors of hell… You see legions of faceless soldiers fighting against enemies taking the form of a monstrous cloud, masses of covering snow, thick and greasy wind. Their motorbikes blur into dark mechanical horses. Fully masked behind tribal armors and helmets, the parallel with Denis Darzacq “Casques” comes to mind but  is  here pushed to a much more lyrical extent: MARTINA HOOGLAND IVANOW soldiers fight here for survival. But the fight seems endless and purposeless as you see soldiers falling helpless, one after another all throughout the book. Theatrically EPIC! Other inspirations could have been THE ROAD from Cormac McCarthy; post-apocalyptic novels in general…


Martina does not offer you a narrative to follow, but rather a loop race track without a beginning nor an end, just as you can enter the book in the middle and escape from it by simply closing it… and come back to it later. Soldiers gathering in the shadow on one page, Shield plates hanging or ghost riders passing through the book like charging a demon there.
But the nightmare does not end when closing the book. This is no phantasy but an actual Swedish race, no Mad Max delirium but an actual competition in the snow.

So… close the book, raise your head look around the shop manager and his dude with a smile, look at the shop itself around you, then look away at Hamburg main station in the rain… Then look at the book cover and smile in return, cause your ten years trip in stormy Sweden hell only did last for 30 seconds max in reality. The experience is pretty much similar as reading a post-apo novel. Comparable bonds can be found in Redheaded Peckerwood in terms of immersion. Christian Patterson’s visual survey being grounded in popular culture and modern American history while Speedway digs into myths, religion and collective fears of hell and darkness.
No way I could have experienced this through online flickering.
As a matter of fact, the book is out since January, (edition of 666 printed books, go figure!) and I had never heard of it even remotely… And that feels very good!

So, I love how the book is made (the black matte paper is a treat), the pictures are mesmerizing and even tho I am not usually even remotely connected to the motocross world, I feel deeply connected to the topic through the use of intelligent book edition techniques. Doesn’t that sound like a recommendation to you? On the downside I regret that color grading seems a bit overdone on some of the pages (especially the pilot portraits) and regret that the signed book costs 80€. Should that prevent anyone to get one of the 665 books left?

My answer is NO:

Blogingly yours from luxembourg train as usual!

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How many good reasons to go to see Viviane Sassen’s work in Frankfurt?

How many good reasons to go to see Viviane Sassen’s work in Frankfurt?

1. She’s a genius

Whatever she touches turns to gold. I got to realise this with her personal series PARASOMNIA. She, like no other, turns human matter into delicate saturated abstraction. When closing one of her books you feel like wandering if you are blind not to see the beauty she depicts everywhere, like she does. It is usually damn simple but it always is right in front of your own nose and you could’t see it.

Arthur Schopenhauer summed it all:

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.

2. Because none does it like Viviane

I have been advocating for Fashion Photography as a genre of its own for a while now. I oppose it to Photography of Fashion to make the distinction clearer. Viviane Sassen’s work is Fashion by nature, like a haute couture collection can be, not talking about the clothes or the models, she uses them like others would use clay to sculpt. It is fine arts without questions but radiates a sense of NOW that makes pretty much everyone else in the Fashion Editorial Photography business look a bit ridiculous. Next to her work, their attempts as brilliant as they can be, look pale and vain. I can spend hours browsing through the new classy ideas of Madame Peripetie, New Formalists and friends, they sadly recall her work to me and can’t match the delicacy and subtlety, Viviane sneaks in just like a curse over photographers.

3. Because shapes and forms are fine but humans are best

Ok ok that statement does not make too much sense, but Her photos are more than just vivid visual compositions. Human remains a middle point in her body of work and ETHAN and ME is here to prove it like a final point at the end of a chapter. Her friend Ethan is pictured with an incredible sensibility and complicity. The series reflects on friendship relationships and asks some ontological questions about what it is to be Human before pushing further and complete the question with a “… in the 21st century”. I swear there are all of those in Viviane’s work.

4. Because Fashion photography is kicking in, RIGHT NOW

Germany has had a few highlights for Fashion Photography recently, and so had the world. Guy Bourdin at DeichtorHallen, Helmut Museum in Berlin, fine!!! But old like your grandpa and in fashion it means like before the first bacteria appeared on earth. Viviane does it now and floods your favorite magazine with her editorial shootings here, here and there.

5. Because she photographs Africa anyway but the way we want a white female artist to do so…

…and god that feels good. Bye stereotypes, bye convenience, bye colonialist systems of visual representation (no no I m not joking…). Hello fresh Viviane air! You see? Sometimes she s the one responsible for the curse and sometimes she is the cure. What else?



Conclusion? Go to see In and Out Fashion – Viviane Sassen exhibition in Frankfurt

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