Alexandra von Fuerst
Alexandra von Fuerst creates images that are rich, surreal and beautiful. We've had the honour of working with her and publishing some of work in past issues of Riposte and wanted to find out more about her process and approach to creating her distinctive images.
Hard to do in a nutshell – but can you tell us about your career so far, how did you get into what you do?
I started studying photography in Milan and after graduating I spent a year in Berlin to experiment further and develop my aesthetic. Currently I am living and working in London and created my own world here. There isn’t a precise path I could define: it was a growing process, a constant push to challenge myself and improve on a personal and professional level. I think these two aspects are very much linked and most of my achievements were definitely accomplished when changing my attitude towards myself and the people surrounding me. Every year I define new goals I would like to achieve and focus my attention on them each day, it’s a slow yet obsessive interest and desire that pushes me forward.
How does it feel to get press the button and know you’ve got the perfect shot?
Most of the times you can see the shot before even holding the camera in the hands, you visualise it as you want it to be. In my opinion, working with photography means transforming the reality in front of you, the preparation and creation of the image itself is the most satisfying aspect to me.
Can you tell me about the relationship you have with editors, stylists and art directors, and how that can impact your creative process?
The relationship with the rest of the team is always very important, especially when shooting for fashion. The stylist should be a partner, a person with whom to share your vision and which to trust entirely. The relation with the editors varies depending on the publication, sometimes I get to know the people I work with but many times it is simply a virtual collaboration. Being a control freak I like directing all aspects of my projects so often I prefer following the art direction myself. It’s interesting however sharing opinions and ideas in order to understand different perspectives on the work itself, it’s a challenge.
I feel a lot of your photography refers old master paintings or image-making in a bygone era – how much of a part does history play in your work?
Growing up in Italy allowed me to admire and appreciate some of the most beautiful classical and renaissance paintings and buildings. I fell in love with art history very young and always felt connected to the darkest moments throughout the centuries. Research is the key for me: it’s the curiosity of constant discovery and knowledge therefore history definitely becomes a source of richness and inspiration. I love looking at different perspectives on culture and find fascinating how the contemporary era can incorporate the past in its aesthetic yet remaining surprising.
Have you ever approached someone on the street who you saw and immediately wanted to photograph?
It happened to me once while studying at university, I saw a girl at the gym and immediately felt a connection to her beauty. I used to be very shy so there was a certain barrier in working together, the images felt quite constricted in the end but it was definitely an interesting experience. I have a true obsession for Japanese and redhead girls, currently I am casting more through social media however as it allows you to understand how people behave in front of the camera as well.
Which photographers working now do you love the work of?
The first names which come to my mind are probably Marton Perlaki, Viviane Sassen, Harley Weir, Casper Sejersen, Isabelle Wenzel and Miles Aldridge but there are definitely so many others which I admire.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
At the moment I don’t have a place which I consider my favourite, I love travelling and constantly discovering new ones and believe I haven’t seen enough of the world to be able to choose. In my heart I keep memories of the most beautiful trees of Cambodia, the hills of Tuscany, the underground feeling of Berlin as well as the cold wind of London.
What's your relationship like with technology?
I personally consider technology a tool, a means of changing evolution. It opens the possibilities in the everyday, it should be used with consciousness, a choice in the hands of the user.
Can you recommend us a book, a film, a magazine and a song?
Book “The unbearable lightness of being” by Kundera
Film “The Tale of Tales” by Matteo Garrone
Magazine “A Magazine curated by”
Song “On the Nature of Daylight” by Max Richter