Most of the interviews we publish on the Profoto Blog were documented with audio recording apps. It is obviously a great way of making sure that the quotes and facts are correct. However, there is no recording from our interview with German fashion photographer Iris Brosch. Instead, we had to rely on our memories and lingering impressions when we wrote this text. It was not deliberate, but in hindsight, it feels quite appropriate.
Iris’s website states that her “unique celebration of female sensuality moves in fresh and fascinating directions in her ability to rework timeless classicism with a thoroughly modern twist.” What it basically means is that her main subject is femininity, and that her style is influenced by classical art.
However, there is nothing nostalgic about Iris’s images. Yes, she is inspired by classical art, but the themes and motifs point toward the future, toward a better tomorrow, you might even say.
“I’m a strong feminist,” says Iris. “There have been a lot of improvements in recent decades. Women have their own careers, and they are in many ways a lot more independent. At the same time, I see a lot of bad things happen to the female body and soul. I see the problems we have with Photoshop, how teenage girls are portrayed as mindless, soulless sex objects, and can’t help but feel that we paid a high price for what have achieved. It’s almost like a form of slavery. Being a woman, I feel it’s my duty to try to change this.”
How would you do that?
“By showing real men and women who are people, not objects – people who have a mind and a heart and are enjoying themselves. But it’s not easy. When I started, there weren’t that many female fashion photographers, and it was hard for me to get any big budget jobs. At the same time, it gave me an edge. Today I feel that being a woman is one of my main strengths.”
What is feminine to you? What does it mean?
“Feminine to me is something positive that embraces us all, that exists in both men and woman. It’s the opposite of aggressiveness, really. In that aspect, feminine is the future. We need to embrace it. Today women deny their femininity to achieve success, while men are afraid to show their feminine side. It seems to me as if we are going backward! Also, we need to tone down the aggressiveness in fashion. Everybody wants to be shocking and scandalous, but I think it’s equally important to be tender and beautiful, to dare to be fragile and refuse to be machinelike. That’s why I never say that I ’shoot.’ I don’t like that expression. I try to avoid all the hard words.”
With this in mind, how do you photograph men and women without turning them into objects?
“I try to give power to the subject. I want the person to feel that it’s about him or her, and I want them to enjoy themselves and please both the mind and the body. But I do have a big ego, so it’s not always that easy,” laughs Iris. “But every human being, young or old, has something to communicate. As a photographer, you should try to understand and feel the soul of the person you’re photographing. If you succeed in that, you won’t turn them into an object. This takes time, obviously, but it is another advantage I have as a female photographer working with female models. They usually perceive me as less intimidating. And they open up.”
The fact that Iris is inspired by classical art does not prevent her from using modern technology. As a fashion photographer, primarily working in the studio or on location with large crews, she usually relies on the Pro-7 to create her distinct and highly personal images. She is also a frequent user of Light Shaping Tools such as the Softlight Reflector and the Softbox Octa.
“Modern technology is wonderful,” says Iris. “I appreciate the speed and the directness it offers, and how you can create amazing things of beauty really, really fast. I mean, in the end they’re just tools. But they’re great tools, and I like them.”
Written by Fredrik Franzén
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