Kirsten Owen on

Fresh Look Back: Paulo Sutch

Like history, the fashion industry has a tendency to put its visuals on repeat. Taste, however, is the impalpable tool of the creative that has the ability to skirt that in-style loop, defying the stamp of a decade. Skimming through the work of photographer Paulo Sutch, his facility to capture the current and make it timeless becomes writ large. Raw, unposed images of now iconic faces like Kristen Owen and Liya Kebede rub shoulders casually amongst undiscovered faces to make up a modern, compendium of both unpublished and published archives from Dazed, V Magazine, 10 and personal works. Edited together, a thoughtful perspective manifests. We spoke to Paulo to put some background to his work and process following his return after a hiatus from fashion photography.

Can you put some context to the Kirsten Owen series? 
I shot Kirsten several times and we became good friends, she’s funny, I wanted to shoot her as I saw her, I liked what she wore. ‘Model style’ wasn’t so prolific then in the early days of the internet, Kirsten’s style consisted of ‘Free clothes’ she had been given in payment for doing shows etc, there was a lots of very good vintage, Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang and Yohji Yamamoto. All of it had been customised or repaired many times by her mother or her friend Stella Tennant.

They (the models and the photo in general) seem so unguarded, where does that off-handedness come from in regards to your style? 
Just a very small team, me, the stylist and the model, often together for days at a time, makes shooting very intimate and natural. Also a Large Format 4×5 camera demands a very still and calm countenance.

How did you get your start? 
I was a cook. Then I got  a chance to work for a food photographer, I was his assistant and cook! It’s a very similar process, cookery and photography, the understanding of ingredients.

You took some time away from fashion, upon returning has your philosophy evolved, or changed at all? 
No not really. I think it became obsolete for a while, in view of digital and retouching and a more polished aesthetic. I favor a non interventionist style, no retouching and minimal hair and make up, place and time being equally important as fashion and girl.

Casting seems to play a crucial role in your work, as there’s a strong point of view there–what do find exciting when choosing subjects? 
The best stories have a specific girl in mind, as it is a role, you see it play out, before shooting,  only one or two girls would be quite right, at most. Casting is building a story about one individual.

And what’s on your agenda for the future?
Much of the same with newer younger teams, and a continuing process of reediting.

What excites you on the current state of things coming from the perspective of a creative?
Independent print magazines are flourishing. Having the new and greater audience of Tumblr and Instagram. As far as models, the re emergence of individuality and diversity.

In regards to the images you chose from your archives to represent you now, with what in mind did you do the edit?
In hindsight, the least obvious choice on a roll of film, seems to be the best. The edit is based on this. I let the pictures choose themselves.





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