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Noovo Editions

Noovo Editions is an independent editorial project with online and paper editions. First of its kind in Spain from an unique and contemporary perspective on the international panorama,
Noovo seeks not only to be an aesthetic arbiter but also a cultural mediator at the juncture between Fashion, Photography & Jewellery.
A platform to show the highest level of creativity from around the world

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Interviews ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------------...........Gene Kiegel

Could you introduce yourself?

I was born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1974. My grandfather introduced me to photography at an early age. He always walked around with his camera taking pictures of family and friends. Every now and then he turned their little kitchen into a dark room where he was printing pictures for his photo albums. When I was about 10 I got my first “do it yourself” camera that I had to put together from a kit. My grandpa gave me a quick cheat sheet on exposure calculation and a few black and white rolls. Well, that’s were it all started, however I didn’t even realize I can make it my career until much later.

At the age of 15 I and my parents moved to Los Angeles. Although, photography and art were still a large interest in my life, my scholar studies took me from computer science to architecture. After graduating from UC Berkeley in architecture I spent a few years working in architecture and project management. Until one fine day I realized I’m absolutely in love with photography and there is a lot more to it than I ever imagined. In April of 2002 I’ve made a commitment to myself to pursue photography full time and under any circumstances.

I’ve approached it in a very unconventional way. I opened a studio in downtown Los Angeles. It was a vast space of about 2000sq feet were I spent nearly 2 years shooting every way possible. All the money I was making was from photography. Headshots, weddings, CD covers, model portfolios, corporate clients, fine art… the list goes on. Since I never really studied photography in school I’ve read many of the lighting books and all the information I could find on the net. Having a studio, strobe lighting and a digital camera made learning really easy as I could instantly see the results.

While I was spending most of my time at the camera store trying to absorb as much information as possible from the sales guys, I ran into Melvyn Sokolsky. I showed him some of my work and asked if I could ever assist him. He said something along the lines of “Sure, but why would you want to ? Assisting is just going to help you learn how to shoot like other people, and photography is about self expression” Well, that stuck with me and I had to learn everything the “hard way” – on my own.

After having the studio for so long, I really started to appreciate the location work. Furthermore, after understanding the light and how to use it, I’ve switched to film cameras and have been experimenting with all formats possible.

Well.. after putting my portfolio together I started hunting for agents on a global scale. The fashion market was very small in LA so I knew I had to relocate. I’ve worked in Paris for a bit and moved to London in 2006.

As a Fashion Photographer, how do you see today’s fashion photography?

Having to relocate and experience different fashion markets I really feel that fashion and understanding of fashion is very regional. What maybe acceptable and looked towards to in one city maybe completely looked down at the other. When working in fashion, you are not only using your artistic skills to create an image but also creating a fashion statement that is current with the fashion season, geographical location, relevant to the age group you are targeting, and fashion label that is considered “hot” at the moment. Not to mention make-up / hair trends, that also vary geographically.

Also, with the technology going to digital, I feel that there are more and more people shooting and the general level of photography is going down. However, the dependency on post production is rising exponentially as it’s becoming a crutch for many.

What kind of influence you´ve go it or which photographer´s or artist are you influence by?

Well.. I’m constantly influenced by seeing new / old techniques. When I just started photography I was a huge fan of Guy Bourdin’s work as well as Helmet Newton, Irwin Penn, Peter Lindberg and many photographers who often shot for Vogue back in the 80’s. As my taste buds continue to grow I started looking at the snapshot work of Mario Testino, Ellen Von Unwerth and some of raw flash photography by Terry Richardson. Rankin was an influence as well – his flawless studio lighting, conceptual work and artistic post production is very impressive. More recently, I’ve fallen in love with old techniques and alternative processes and photographers like Paolo Roversi, Aldo Fallai, and even Lady Hawarden (1857-1864) – now that was a true beginning of fashion photography.

How would you define your work?

I would say my work is very cinematic. I create scenarios, concepts, feelings and moods with my photographs. I often take the voyeuristic point of view. I want to catch a moment. I want to feel it. I want you to feel it as well.

What would you say is the characteristic of your work?

Well, I’m definitely experimental. It’d be hard to accuse me for using same techniques and cameras for all my projects. It’s the projects and concepts themselves that dictate the tools that I chose to use.

However, I could narrow it down to a few, not necessarily used at the same time:
1.The main subject of the photo looks unattainable, gorgeous, strong, classic, and noble.
2. You can “feel” the person’s emotion / mood / state. It may be voyeuristic or intrusive. The photo technique would also be different based on the mood of the story.
3. Conceptual – I would create a storyboard of the entire event and shoot it in a very “cinematic” format as though I’m actually capturing the moments that happen, even though they are very meticulously defined.

Do you use photography as a tool to say something or just to compose a nice advertising campaign?

Well, I use it as a tool to combine the concept given to me with what makes sense to me in my visual world. I have to understand and believe in concept prior to me shooting it. I often work with clients and art directors on refining the concept to make it as strong and believable as possible.

How do you balance the business side of photography?

The business side of photography actually takes 95% of the time or more. You can shoot all you want and be an amazing photographer, however, if you don’t get out there and don’t show your work then no one will even know you exist. I think it’s a challenge for most photographers to keep shooting and keep showing your work. Many think that their book is not up to par and it will be later, but what we all have to remember is that an ever-evolving process and other people want to see the progress. For the most part, networking and displaying your work consistently is the key to success.

What would you say it is your best advertising campaign?

Well, I think one of my bigger advertising clients was Swatch. They’ve picked up on the concept of “flash-mobbing” and wanted to adapt it to their campaigns. I was responsible for a few of them. The first one I shot for them was for the Year of the Dog watch. The “flash-mobbing” consisted of people coming out during the new years celebration with their dogs. There were a few intricacies to consider like the owners had to resemble their dogs (clothing and features). Furthermore, to minimize post production and make it look realistic, I was shooting the entire group with animals all in one shot. Since I had to make it look like a night time and also light the entire staircase I had to use quite a bit of electric power. It was a large production, starting from choosing location, casting models, animals, setting up lighting, dressing up the set, to working with all of the crew and animals at once. However, we pulled through just fine and got a great response from the ad.

What is that rumor about Madonna making a movie based on your character ?

I´ve been hearing this rumor as well coming from actors in the film and my colleagues in London. I am a bit sceptical that the movie has any relevance to me or my life. From what I heard is that it´s the new movie is called Filth and Wisdon and she wrote the script for it based on her own experiences. The only similarities that I know of is that the main character A.K. (not G.K) is a fashion photographer from Ukraine that is trying to make it in London. Also, the names of his girlfriend in the movie and mine at the time, were the same. In fact, according to my ex-girlfriend she went to the casting to play herself. She was working with Madonna on a few jobs during our intense break-up before Madonna started the production of her new film and conversed about us at the time. So, whether it´s a coincidence or not, I won´t really know unless I hear it from Madonna directly In any case, I wish her best of luck with her new directorial debut.

How do you feel about internet technology? Do you use it?

Internet technology is great. I use it constantly and have to figure out new ways all the time. Unfortunately, some of the marketing methods are very short lived as your competition picks up on them as well. However, internet technology makes it possible to market yourself globally sitting virtually anywhere in the world. I even found that websites even like MYSPACE are very helpful in finding jobs and connecting with other people. Plus it´s much easier to update slides on myspace than to redo your entire website.. something to think about. I keep it updated with my latest work. Please feel free to check it out and don´t forget to add to friends.

What is next for you?

Well, my plans in London are to work with some of my favourite magazines like 10,Tank, Wonderland and Wig, to name a few. After that I´ll probably be targeting some of the French and Italian publications 

More Information:
web: http://www.genekiegel.com/

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