A few years ago, I got to know Stephan Brauchli right here in Prague where he was renting my first small attic studio. Back then, Stephan was creating another nude photo series.
As time went by and I started BLOG+, I thought I should contact him again to see how his nude photography is progressing. Once in a while I got a glimpse of some results on Facebook, of course non-nude.
You must know that Stephan is earning his living by working in a bank, but photography is his biggest passion. Stephan loves Africa and frequently travels there to take shots of conservation and wildlife. He also likes to explore Ticino (a region in Switzerland) with the goal of creating gorgeous natural art nude images. And every now and then, he even rents a crazy deco-chic suite to mix-up fashion style photography with stunning nude bodies. In short: Stephan really is a heartfelt enthusiast.
I am very delighted that I have rediscovered his work and even happier about the fact that he took the time to answer my questions and show his actual photo port.
Interview by Dan Hostettler
Where do you live and since when is photography your hobby?
I live in Zurich, Switzerland and I started taking pictures in the 80s when I received a Pentax ME Super.
Since when is nude photography your hobby to?
I lived in Austin, TX for 15 years and while on a project in Columbus, OH met a dance student who soon after became my girlfriend. As a dancer she was very comfortable with her body which I happily exploited with voyeuristic photographic curiosity. That was in 1998 and soon after I partook in an exhibition on nude works at the Pro-Jex Gallery in Austin, TX.
What is the fascination that got you started shooting nude-oriented photos?
A woman once commented on my nude work and said that I celebrated women and that pretty much hit the nail on the head. Women have always fascinated me and in my work I strive to visualize some of this attraction at least at the visual level.
Do you prefer a certain style (like NudeArt, glamNudes) and what is your idea/vision behind it all?
I am not a fan of Photoshop, that is, there are great images created with Photoshop, but IMHO too many are fake-looking. Even before PS photographers would modify images in the darkroom. I usually keep any mods to removing a pimple and maybe some dodging and burning, but I prefer to get the image right in the camera as I value my time too much to spend it editing images. I also do not like plastic-looking skin, so my images probably wouldn’t do well in glamour magazines.
I guess I am more on the art nude side than on the glam side, but I really also like the street or voyeur type images like so many of Helmut Newton’s images.
How do you cast the models for your projects?
Mostly through modeling websites or word of mouth from other models or photographers.
Do you normally pay the models for a shoot or do you negotiate other deals like e.g. TFP (Time for Print)?
I used to mainly shoot acquaintances and girls I would run into, but for many reasons such as reliability and no fuss about rights (model release) I prefer to pay models as long as the prices are fair.
Where and how do you present and publish your work (e.g. competitions, guest blogs, real galleries)? And how do you avoid conflicts with your everyday job life?
My everyday job is a huge problem. There is no avoiding it. I do participate in photography competitions though usually not in the nude category. Many competitions these days ask for high entry prices without really offering much in return, so I keep only to the well-known ones.
In January 2014 my work was shown at the “photo14″, the largest and most renowned photo exhibition in Switzerland. In April I will be exhibiting some of my photography at the Photobastei in Zurich.
How do you continue your education to stay up-to-date in nude photography (e.g. gear, styles, societal influence and trends)?
Gear is not important, but it helps to have a camera that does well in low light in case you need it. I do have a medium format camera which is a breeze to use in the studio but much more unforgiving in low light – but the results are amazing.
I don’t care about trends. I shoot for myself and so I do whatever I feel like.
Many enthusiasts would like to explore nude photography but just don’t know how to get started. Any advice for those taking their first steps?
Get to know your gear and practice with lighting (whether studio or natural). Use a mannequin or a friend and do not get a nude model until you feel you are ready. A very good way to learn studio lighting is to use hot lights. Try to show more than body parts. Make sure the model is comfortable. Do not go into nude photography to see naked women.
What are your next photography goals?
My next goals are more in the direction of conservation & wildlife photography. I am still interested in nudes, but I will probably not put a lot of effort in it anymore unless there is a model that is absolutely interesting to me or unless I can realize one of my ideas that I have not had the time and money to realize yet.
Tech QNA: Stephan’s Gear DNA
What type of camera(s) do you work with?
- Pentax ME Super (film)
- Canon 5d MIII
- Canon 1Dx
- Hasselblad H4D
Do you prefer shooting indoors, in a studio or rather outdoors?
It really depends: outdoors if the light and location allows the production. For some settings I “need” to be outdoors for the story telling and mood aspect. Studio is on plan when I want to control the lighting very precisely.
What lighting equipment do you set up for a shoot?
I usually go for strip softboxes or a single beauty dish, sometimes a large softbox from above. If available, I love the specific light of a BRIESE. In general, there are so many lighting setups possible;)
How important is Photoshop for your final images?
Basically I do everything in LR4.
Are you rather a Mac or a PC lover?
I use both platforms but lately I use the MacBook more.
Stephan, thanks a lot for joining me to dedicate some of your extremely valuable free time to my readers.