Interview: Photographer Jürgen Katzengruber (France)
Can you tell us a little about you?
Originally from Austria, I live in France since 2002. I made a master degree in fashion design at Vienna’s university for Applied Arts, where designers Vivienne Westwood, Marc Bohan and Helmut Lang were my teachers. After studies I found a job in a viennese theater, working for the wardrobe department, which gave me the interest in costume design for theater. In 2000 I met my partner, a french comedian and theater stage director – we decided to settle in France and create our professional theater company on the french countryside. In 2015 I decided to get back to fashion, realizing my own designs. I founded my company, and since than create handcrafted, unique menswear. Photography is an important part of my work.
How and when did you get into photography?
This was approximately in 2005, when I got my first camera. Already at this time, I was interested in human expressions, a matter one can find a lot in theater, and I wanted to link this with my first ideas about menswear fashion design – this was a real serious start for me, yet already during my studies in the beginning of the 1990’s, photography was an important matter.
What does photography mean to you?
In general it means for me to capture the right moment – of a human expression, of an exceptional situation. In my special case, it’s also useful for documenting my clothes and design work. But it also means to get in touch with exceptional people; models are human beings for me, not just hangers – hence you deal with complexity and character, and a simple photography job may become a quite profound psychological affair, which always is of interest.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
Not sure, that I’ve got a style, but I think that I have an eye. Every person I photograph has another character, brings alive other things, which always are unique.
Where do you get inspiration from?
When I started in 2005, I really liked to find inspiration in ancient paintings, mostly of renaissance or baroque times. The lightning of Caravaggio’s paintings, the opulence of dutch 17th century paintings…films by Peter Greenaway, Derek Jarman, but also by Fellini or Visconti…Nowadays I concentrate more on my clothes, try to find a balance between a good commercial shot and a certain depth and uniqueness due to the character of the model.
Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?
Not always. Globally spoken, I try to find a good frame, or think about a set and decoration, but from that point on, once more, the character of the model gives the final picture uniqueness and difference. During a session, I also like to surprise myself with ideas I find accurately, and I also am open for ideas a model may bring in. Also, it’s great fun for me to confront models with my clothes; this may provoque unexpected and vivid reactions.
Studio, on location or both?
Both! The ligthing makes a big difference!
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
Somewhere inbetween. I don’t have the classic apprenticeship as a professional photographer, but as I studied at Applied Arts, photography was and is always somewhere implied! Not sure that “paid” is synonyme for professional work. For me, being professional is more a question of quality, contents and also discipline.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
I try to see this on an equal level – once more, every person brings it’s special something, which makes every session a unique moment. Some guys may be more talented though than others, bring more energy to the set than others, and than again, every person has something special! It’s just right that what a photographer has to capture.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
Starting your own business always is complicated, at least here in Europe. No matter what kind of business, if you work on your own, you have to be totally convinced of the quality and the uniquness of your work, without being pretentious neither. Beside of this, it’s work, work, work …
What do you think of our new magazine?
It’s always a good idea to bring together different professions, people, cultures and point of views. This kind of exchange is enriching and may help you for your own development or for getting visible. Hence it’s a powerful tool you offer us, thank you for this!