Born in Ljubljana (Slovenia), Paris-based photographer Spela Kasal isn’t just one more in the crowd. Spela has invented a new way of exploring the world with her bright eye, which invites the viewer to a world where intimacy and truth reign. With an evocative personal style, she has been honing her skills since the moment she started her education. After having modelled for some time, she undertook Graphic Design at the University for Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, spending the last year of her studies in Paris at ESAG, Penninghen. Spela has been working as a freelance photographer in fashion, portraiture, fine art and advertising and her various collaborations include names such as Vogue Italy, Louis Vuitton, Lacoste, Dossier, Interview…, among other. Let’s discover her last new clichés and where has she been seeking for inspiration lately...
How did you get started?
Both of my parents are architects. When I was about twenty years old I was visiting my boyfriend who was studying Fashion in Vienna at the time. That world made a big impact on me and hit me instantly. I started my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. After taking my first photography class I never asked any questions, I realised I had to do it my own way.
How do you approach a new project?
It depends. My work is divided between my personal projects (which has a pretty intimate feel) and the fashion projects. My personal work is always a part of me and the ideas are constantly evolving, I take inspiration from everywhere - colour, films, friends, books, images I see, etc. Once the idea and the path to follow are clear, the project starts to materialize. With fashion projects it is similar, but of course, the casting, location and client are very important and one doesn’t have the same freedom.
How long do you usually spend on a project?
Fashion projects, in general, are done pretty fast. Altogether maybe in three weeks, it depends on the location, casting, client, deadline, of editing and retouching. Personal projects are less time limited it’s more a work in progress, always developing.
Is there an idea that runs continuously through all your projects?
I’m not sure I would call it an idea. It is definitely a certain kind of sensibility, light, similar story- telling maybe; as well as an honesty and intimacy that follow all my work. I’m always trying to stay true to myself. Personal photography is uncompromising whereas the commercial or fashion is more a dialog between all people involved.
How do you explore the idea of time and memory?
I don’t know... People tell me lots of my pictures are emotional. I take them in a certain moment when I’m open to it, when I feel close to someone, when they let me into their world.
Which cities inspire you today?
I like to travel a lot; I like the newness of the places I visit for the first time. I don’t really have one favourite city. I love to go back to certain places but generally those places are not big cities. I live in Paris and I love it, but it doesn’t always necessary inspire me.
The notions of love, emotions and intimacy seem to play an important part in your work...
I guess my work is mostly about intimate photography. As I said before, I have to be close to my subjects to get the chance to be inspired by their world. It’s a two way street they let me in and I vice versa.
And what are you interested in at this moment?
I’m always interested in similar subjects. People who are close to me, my journeys, the landscapes and I love taking nudes... At the moment, I’m working on a more complex project but I would rather not reveal anything yet…
Could you tell us about some of your influences?
I am influenced by art in general - more and more by old paintings, sometimes also by fashion. I love Juergen Teller’s work of course, he is great! When I started, I used to like Corinne Day a lot. I used to be crazy about the work of artists such as Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus, Araki,Wolfgang Tillmans,... I still am!
You photograph many nudes at this time, why?
Not especially at this time, I have done it all the time. Whenever I feel the time, the moment and the person of course, are right. I was happy to be commissioned for a series of nudes for Dossier for the summer 13 issue.
And what about landscapes?
I love taking landscapes! As I travel a lot, it comes to me pretty natural. It’s a different way of taking pictures, different from nudes or portraits. I see landscapes as an extension of myself. Maybe they are captures of my moods when I take them, I don’t know…
Do you prefer shooting in colour than in black and white?
Mostly I shoot in colour, and all my personal work is mostly shot on film. It is either medium format or 135mm. I also love making videos. One of my favourite was the project I did for Louis Vuitton. It was shot mostly with 8mm camera. I love to work with film as it gives the whole process a different value. You shoot in a more precise way than when using digital cameras and the result is almost always good.
What are your plans for next year?
I would love to exhibit my personal work soon. I am happy to be working in fashion at the same time, I love both equally! This year I’m working for Lacoste, maybe on another project for Louis Vuitton, I also have lots of unpublished editorials coming out. I’m working on a new series which will be styled by some really great stylists, which make me pretty excited. I will continue to contribute regularly for Vogue.it, and other fashion publications. Maybe a fashion story for METAL...? It would be nice!