The Bavarian French Touch
Portraying the woman of today? Photographer Stephanie Pfaender leads the way.
Anyone like Stephanie Pfaender, who grew up in Bavaria with French roots, presumably has precisely the right combination of flamboyancy and Bavarian down-to-earth mentality to 'paint' a picture of modern women in fashion. Having chosen to live in Berlin and now working for prestigious publications such as Interview and ZEIT Magazine in Germany, she has become something of an expert in female fashion snapshots over the past few years.
For the trained graphic designer, it actually all began with a personal photo diary, which she started together with photographer Jessica Barthel. Shortly after the two got to know each other through friends in Berlin and became friends themselves, Jessica moved to New York. However both of them wanted to remain a part of each other's everyday lives despite the distance separating them. They therefore decided to record their lives in New York and Berlin through the medium of photography. This online project no longer exists, but the effects of this exchange of photos can still be felt today.
Perhaps it is this intimacy of personal relationships, which seems neither blatant nor staged, that taught Pfaender her photographic sensitivity and makes her photo galleries always appear like a condensed storyboard of life. 'For me, it is important to capture a special moment, be it just a snapshot or a picture taken as part of a production. I like to preserve the energy of the situation and the spontaneity in my pictures,' states Pfaender. Therefore, even the conceptual fashion photographs she takes never appear static; there is always a sense of movement. She herself somewhat modestly calls this approach to her subject documentary fashion photography.
Or, in other words: Pfaender works with emotions despite the conceptual framework. And she is always searching for beauty and authenticity, but never stark reality. This allows her to create vividly coloured and meaningful contexts: thanks to her personal perspective and exceptional eye for detail, Pfaender bestows upon the objects and protagonists that accompany her a truly glamorous dignity, look and feel.
It is not surprising that she mainly portrays women. They have 'an ambivalent character in my eyes. On the one hand they are vulnerable and delicate, on the other heroically strong and aloof. That appeals to me,' explains Pfaender. 'A natural elegance that is inherent in women and never seems false.' This makes her pictures appear genuine and wonderful. Presumably because she simply allows her female subjects a great deal of space for individual development and, on top of this, has a truly unique eye for the female form. 'I find the female body very aesthetic. I love photographing nude portraits. Nude photography requires a sense of respect on the side of the photographer which in turn is a chance for me to capture an essential quality of a person,” she adds.
So, be it in personal portraits or fashion productions, her protagonists convey self-determination, intuition, courage and passion. They appear sensual but strong at the same time. So effortlessly appealing and genuinely feminine, yet also sexy and inadvertently glamorous, that it is best described by one of the French words used by Stephanie Pfaender herself: nonchalant.