Enrique Badulescu is counted among the top fashion photographers of today. After graduating from the German School in Mexico City, he studied photography in Munich at the former Bavarian State School for Photography. His international career began in the 1980s in the music business in London when he was working for the British magazine, The Face, and was commissioned to take pictures of the Rolling Stones. Shortly after that he was approached for various album covers and for his first commercial campaigns. He currently lives in New York City.
Badulescu is not only a creative photographer, but an artist through and through. For the photo series he produced for the the S Magazine, he pulled out all his creative stops. Titled “Anziehend Anders” (Appealingly Different), a selection of his work for the magazine is being shown at the Leica Gallery in Wetzlar from April 16 to June 15, 2015.
Q: How did you get into fashion? How does one become a fashion photographer?
A: I studied photography at the Bavarian State School for Photography in Munich, as it was called at the time, where I went through all kinds of artistic forms, above all working in black-and-white. Already as a youngster I liked looking through fashion magazines, which meant going to the French Consulate in Mexico City to do so.
Q: Which photographers impressed and inspired you in particular at the time?
A: Guy Bourdin was a great inspiration. His work, as well as that of David Bailey, showed me that photography could develop in the direction of art.
Q: You’ve been working as a photographer since the 1980s. How did you get to work for the big labels? What was the first campaign you worked on?
A: When I got to London I took lots of pictures for album covers. Four months later I did the PR shots for the Rolling Stones. I had to pitch against Nick Knight and I won! Then I got my first commissions from The Gap. They booked me for my colours and contrasts. Things got going and then I got my first assignment for Hermès. The rest is history.
Q: You like to enrich your photography with artistic elements. Expressive colors and the interplay of contrasts are features of your work. What artistic styles inspired you?
A: Pop art, and I always thought Andy Warhol was great. His Polaroids and experimental films influenced me a lot. He freed up art, pushed the limits, did away with categories. Before that, you were either a painter or a photographer. He mixed it all together and made new types of art possible.
Q: For the S Magazine project you added some artistic aspects to your motifs in post-production. Tell us about the techniques you use.
A: Yeah, I love to work with my hands! And at last I was at my leisure to do so. I worked with Chinese ink for one series. It produces effects that you can’t control, which I love. I also like to work with scissor cuttings that we add during post-production. I have a weakness for collages. At home in New York I often sit on the floor with my seven-year-old daughter Fernanda, tinkering away at handicrafts.
Q: You often have very beautiful shading in your pictures, which gives them a poetic touch like in a film from the 1970s.
A: I always try to bring an element of warmth into a picture, even if it was taken with a digital camera. A lot then becomes a product of chance. You can’t foresee everything – for example, how good the effect of the shadow of palm leaves and reflections on the water will look afterwards.
Q: Contrasts are another feature in your pictures. What else would you say are typical elements of your work?
A: Contrasts – I love contrasts! Not just of light and shadows, bright and dark, but above all of colors. With me it always has a lot to do with colors, and I like to follow a conceptual approach. I do a lot with water, and there’s always a lot of movement in the pictures, but also softness.
Q: Please talk about water being a typical element you use. What are the challenges in photographing under water?
A: I used a special underwater casing for that. By training for many years, I can stay under water for close to a minute, while keeping my eyes open at the same time. That’s always difficult for the models.
Q: How did the change to digital technology influence your photography?
A: Back then you had to understand a lot more about the use of light than today. You couldn’t play so many tricks in post-production – there was no Photoshop. A bad picture remained bad. Digital photography gives you the chance to develop your talents further. That’s what it should be about, not about making the picture acceptable afterwards. Most of the young generation growing up today only know digital, and they’re not bad at it. But I’m always glad I got to know both.
Q: What are your hopes and visions for fashion photography?
A: It should be more spontaneous, freer and more joyful – just like the work for the S Magazine. It was a great venture and a wonderful opportunity to be totally free in the creative design, and to be able to show the whole range of possibilities. I was lucky that the S Magazine project at last gave me the chance to work freely again, and to fully express myself artistically. I wish that would be the future of fashion photography.
– Leica Internet Team
Connect with Enrique on his website. Read the interview in German. Learn more about the S Magazine here.