Splice is a Swiss born photographer who works primarily in the USA and Europe. His work featured in our launch issue and was very well received by our audience, and we are happy to welcome him back.
Read the interview with Splice Pictures which is featured in Issue Two. To see the essay of photography you can purchase the magazine here.
You communicate an intention to invite the viewers of your photographs to ‘self-consciously experience the most intimate of moments.’ Can you expand on this?
The aim is to make the viewer complicit with my role in documenting the model and her environment. Of course it is a staged environment and there is clearly a voyeuristic component to it but the idea is that the place could be the model’s home or hotel room she is in. This is also why I only photograph in real places, not in a studio, and only use natural light. Photography, compared to painting for example, is still a very real depiction of human physicality. Using warm and soft colours, out of focus points, and light flares are my way to soften this realism. The other aspect is that I am a filmmaker first and foremost and the reason I returned to still photography was the simplicity of being able to create a scene without ten people standing around and having to wait half a day to get the camera going. Casting a model, finding the right location, and getting to work can all happen in a very short amount of time, and just being in a room with the model creates an intimacy that you can’t achieve any other way. So, I guess my two main components are intimacy and narrative. Narrative is key to all my work and I see the nude photography as an extension of that. You see an image but you also think about the before and after: how did she get there, what is she thinking, what is going to happen? This sense of anticipation and mystery is crucial for me.
Eugenia, the model in this photo essay, is also a successful glamour model. Does her experience in this field create any challenges when trying to create photography with a more fine art sensibility? And by extension, is it difficult to capture a more honest and open representation of sexuality when Eugenia has no doubt been involved in the artifice that is an inherent factor of glamour photography?
A model like Eugenia is in a way the perfect model for what I am trying to achieve. Not only is she used to posing nude, she also has a masterly sense of how to move her body and present herself for the camera. You only have to move the body a few millimetres sometimes to achieve a different look. Having been a glamour model for a long time and having posed for Playboy many times, I think she was interested in something different and we were both surprised how well it turned out. Her body shape combined with her black curls and angelic face is just this very perfect combination.
What was it like on set?
The images on your pages are the result of three different sessions that happened in L.A. over the course of a week. As the first session turned out so well we decided to shoot again and that lead to a third session. Eugenia had only recently moved from Ukraine to L.A. and had a friend with her to help with translating, although her English was pretty good. I am a man of few words during a shoot and with a good model like Eugenia there is not much need to give directions. I compare the work to a dance, where you know your steps, but within these boundaries you have the possibility to create something new and magical.
This particular set of photographs has a fairly glamorous and stylised feel, which is reminiscent perhaps of a vintage Playboy shoot. Do you consciously address this aesthetic and do you set out with an image in mind before you begin the shoot?
It’s interesting that you say this because I don’t see the similarity at all if I look at Playboy. I wish the magazine would embrace this kind of aesthetic more. I think Playboy has lost a clear look and direction and is kind of floating around, trying to look contemporary yet not giving up the heritage – a very difficult task of course. I think a magazine such as Treats or your own publication has it easier in that regard. Maybe it has more to do with Eugenia as a model that the Playboy reference comes up. There was no conscious concept in my mind but I do have to say that I am a big fan of the look Playboy created in the 60s and early 70s.
We have had great feedback about your essay in our Quite Frankly issue from both men and women alike. Is it your intention to create photographs that will be most likely enjoyed by men, women, or both?
I just shoot and hope someone will like it, but you are right, I do get a lot of response from women, which of course is the highest praise a male photographer could hope for.
What was it about Eugenia that, for you, made her a suitable model for erotic photography?
If I were a painter in the 1910s or 20s I think Eugenia would be the one model that I would want to paint over and over. She is such a representation of a woman combined with youthful innocence. I look at nude paintings from the past and I often see Eugenia in them.
What do you look for in a model for your erotic image-making?
That is the toughest question to answer because I still don’t know. Having worked now for five short years with nude models I still haven’t figured it out. I have shot almost every body type; tall and short, cropped hair and long hair, big breasts and small breasts, mostly as a challenge to myself to see how I can translate them into images that I am happy with. In the end, I believe
it has very little to do with a certain form and more to do with an attitude, and something that transcends the physicality. It’s like a good actor in cinema: they offer something of themselves that is impossible to describe with words, a vulnerability, a deep look into the soul.
We love the final image of Eugenia, in the bath, laughing at the camera, as it seems to offer us a glimpse of her real personality. Do you think it is important to capture the fun and light-hearted aspects of sex and erotica?
We all know it’s a series of make-believe, a little tale that we are spinning. To break that at the end with a more natural and real image just adds another dimension to the story. I love to joke around during a shoot and relax the model this way. Many photographers or artists would maybe not add an image like this one to keep the fantasy intact to the end, but to me it is the perfect ending. And anyway, how can you not show a beautiful girl with a laugh like that?
Visit Splice’s website here.