Roger’s world of Nude Pop Art is lively, energetic, colorful, funded by tremendous creativity and visions. Just 5 years ago, Roger re-embarked on his photographic journey but already created an impressively rich and extensive portfolio.
I am truly happy to have gained his interest through my works and my community, and that he agreed to tell us his story and insights!
Interview by Dan Hostettler
Where are you living now and for how long have you been a photographer?
I was born in Switzerland 1966, the first child of a cameraman for Swiss television and creative consultant for events and trade fairs. My parents, my younger sister and me spent some years of our childhood traveling the North and South American continent. My parents were filming the entire travel like a documentary.
After high school I took a job as light and sound engineer at a Swiss theater but very soon I started my own travel to South America and Asia accompanied by my first analog SLR camera. After I got deported and robbed in San Augustin, Colombia while taking pictures of giant statues in a archeological park I stopped photography for many years until 2009 when I really started my photography journey.
In the late 80s I traveled to Asia and lived in Koh Samui, Thailand for many years where I practiced Thai Chi and painting and studied traditional Thai massage. Today I live and work in Switzerland and part of the year in my second home Thailand.
Did you go to school to study photography?
My mind is the one of a hacker always looking for shortcuts taking me straight to my goal. At age over 40 I felt I was too old to go to school to learn photography. During my years in Asia I started painting and when I got my first laptop computer I tried to paint in Photoshop and Corel Draw.
After my first studio shooting in 2009 it was clear, photography would become my new canvas but Photoshop would be my vehicle into my own creative world. I already had some basic skills at that time. I searched the internet for creative photographers with an extensive Photoshop workflow and I found German photo artist Stephan Gesell.
I called Stephan in Munich and soon me and my photographer buddy Urs spent a weekend at Stephan’s studio shooting and learning creative post processing. The list of photographers and retoucher that I learned from is long: David La Chapelle, Greg Goreman, Many Librodo Jr., Natlia Taffarel and many more.
How would you describe your vision and visual signature of your style?
I took the best from every master that I met on my photography journey and combined them into my style that I call Nude Pop Art which is a colorful contrast rich combination of fashion and art nude with extensive Photoshop composing post processing.
Very recently I have also discovered my love for classic nude art in color and black & white.
What was the first photograph that meant something special to you (by you or anyone else), and why?
I think it was a book by David La Chapelle, it was different, provoking, cynical and very colorful.
How did you get started in shooting the beauty and glamour-oriented work that you are into right now?
It wasn’t till 2009 when I started art-nude photography at friend’s studio. After telling my friend Urs Gerber that I was bored and looking for a creative challenge in life he invited me to his studio on a rainy Sunday. He setup a basic light, placed a half naked model on a big chair, gave me his camera and left for the rest of the day. The pictures of my first shoot turned out horrible but from that moment on I was in love with studio photography and on the next day I went to buy my first DSLR.
How do you find the models to work on your projects?
I don’t, the models find me. I mainly work with professional art-nude models touring Europe. Sometimes other photographer and models refer new models to me, which I appreciate very much. If I travel somewhere and do look for models in that area I use a website called Modelmayhem.com to contact locals models.
How do models enjoy working with your style?
From what they are telling me they enjoy my style a lot because they don’t have similar pictures in their portfolio.
You are regularly shooting both in Europe and Asia. What are the biggest differences when working with local models? Is there any cultural impact from the models that influences the consistency or style in your work?
In Europe there are more professional art-nude models with good posing skills. Many started with ballet when they were young and this shows on the pictures. This makes my job easier.
In Asia for a long time it was difficult finding models willing to pose naked in front of a camera. They were afraid not getting any fashion shoots after posing nude. This is slowly changing. In the past few years there is a new generation of amateur and professional models more open minded towards art-nude. Very often they have never done a classic art-nude shoot before and need extensive coaching. Luckily my Thai wife is a very experienced art-nude model and is taking over this part. We often work as a team.
Is shooting in Asia very different from the standards you are used to in Europe and does it give you some sort of personal balance to work on both of these so very different continents?
There is not much difference for me. Both in Europe and Asia I have a good network of industry professionals supporting my work and me. Maybe one of the differences is that in Asia I usually shoot with a larger team due to lower manpower cost.
How do you – in today’s digital world – earn money with your sexy women photography, what has changed for you?
I provide photography workshops for people who want to get into art-nude photography and master classes with advanced Photoshop training. I also create art-nude calendars for companies and sell prints to private collectors.
Do you prefer shooting indoors, in a studio or rather outdoors?
I enjoy both likewise. Studio photography gives me full control over my light settings. Outdoor is a challenge that I enjoy also very much, a special location, difficult light conditions, using ambient light and portable studio strobes.
Many photographers would like to explore nude work but just don’t know how to get started. Do you have some advice for taking the first steps?
The best way is to join an art-nude photography workshop. Because there you will learn how to interact respectfully with the model and give her instructions. You learn how to setup your lights, take great pictures with the help of your coach and improve your Photoshop retouching skills. During the workshop you will also start your networking with art-nude models and photographers.
If you don’t already have your own art-nude reference pictures to present to models they will probably not come to your planned shoot. Reference pictures and reference by other models you have previously worked with is essential to get you starting.
Tech QNA: Roger’s Gear DNA
Do you work solely digital or also analog these days?
I work only digital.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with?
My main camera is a Phase One 645DF IQ160 medium format camera. I always take a second camera with me when I go on a location shoot, this is either a Sony a7 or a Canon 5D Mark III.
What lighting equipment do you set up for a shoot?
I try to keep it simple. In the studio I work with max 3 lights. On location I work with a single light source like. This can either be sunlight or a portable studio light.
How important is Photoshop for your final images?
For my artwork Photoshop is extremely important. I have a very extensive Photoshop workflow and on most of my pictures I spend many hours.
Are you rather a Mac or a PC lover?
I love my Macs and all the iOs gadgets but I recognize that the difference between Mac and PC is not that big and when it comes to Photoshop there is simply no difference. There are some awesome older Photoshop plugins like Frischluft Flair that were never programmed for Mac.
Roger, thanks a lot for joining me and the time you dedicated to my readers!