APRIL 22, 2020
INTERVIEW


CONSTANTIN SCHLACHTER




Constantin Schlachter is a poet connected to the Earth and to Mankind, who knows how to capture magical moments. In a timeless aesthetic, we are surrounded by mystical sensations of religious beauty where bodies and objects seem to be there for eternity. This work is the result of complex thinking and diverse inspirations - from literature, to painting and film - leading all the elements to form a unit and each photo a piece of art.




How did you come to photography?
I studied literature and cinema for two years, then I realized I was more into the photography of cinema. I tried to apply to some cinema schools, but all the exams were closed. Then I discovered a photography school (Gobelins, l'école de l'image) which proposes some videos courses amongst the different photography courses. To sum up I was introduced to photography by the will to do cinema. Moreover this school permitted me to experiment a lot on photography and to discover a way to express myself.

The faculty of photography to catch happenstance interests me. You can set and think you control everything still there always will be the chance for the unexpected to appear and to create something beyond. The medium also imposes you a certain patience due to the time you have to wait between the click and the final result (processing, post-production). I like this ambivalence between the rapidity of the act of taking the photo and the time it takes to develop it. It creates some space for me to think about what I did and what I expect.

Lastly I'm interested in the ambiguity that photography generates sometimes to the viewer, especially with the last technics of retouch. This medium always questions realism and allows me to play with perception.







You seem to be mystically connected to the planet, to matter. What is your relationship with nature?
The evolution of my thoughts is strongly linked to my childhood and to the break that happened when I moved to Paris. On one hand, I had the chance to grow in a small town by the forests and the mountains, a place favorable to tales and mysteries. Furthermore my childhood was fed by mythologies, religious class, curiosity and boredom, a nice melting pot of imagination. And I think this fertile ground stimulated my relation to the world, and questioned it very early. On the other hand my literature and cinema studies structured and completed my imaginative thoughts. And my photography's experiments gave them a shape, a materiality.

Also those contrasts between Paris and a country town gave me the wish to return close to the nature and the step back to apprehend it. I feel a deep link to the matter and the planet, but I am not sure that this link has to be called “mystical”. We all have those links in ourselves. It might be hidden, even lost sometimes and so mysterious to ourself. That is the reason why we call it “mystical” but for me those links have more to be seen as natural.




You create a more spiritual and poetic reality. How do you photograph the invisible?
I'm producing a stream of pictures continuously. It evolves following my feelings, readings and inspirations. I don't like to struggle into a project, because it limits me. It constrains myself into the first idea I had, and it's hard after, to drift from it. So I consider my work more like a diary that I get to organize afterwards into narrations, than like a project. Also I think that each image possesses its own potential of significations. You can't constrain the picture to have specific or limited significations, in other words it's like lying to yourself. I'm only dedicated to the pictures, I let them speak to and for me. We can call “invisible” these secrets parts contained in the picture.

Moreover it depends on the context, the invisible can manifest itself in many different ways. It might be latent in the world that surrounds us, and sometimes in ourselves. It can appear suddenly, like a glimpse, or lingering deeply, waiting to be revealed. I can distinguish three moments during which the invisible may show up. Firstly the intuition of the moment can guides you throughout the shooting. Secondly all the editing reveals the potential of pictures by their confrontations and dialogs between each other. Thirdly the post production helps to push the pictures to their limit. It allows to separate the essence of the image from the disturbing informations that blur his readability. I use several manipulations, such as crop, color transfer, or negative for example.

By means of these techniques and their combinations I can get closer to the invisibles parts of the picture and bring it to light. Finally the most important thing is to let the time to the invisible to manifest itself.

For the book " Trajectoire du gyrovague ", you went for a walk, alone. What did you find during this period of introspection?
It is hard to express precisely with words what I experienced, and I think my pictures translate it better, even if it is partially. This itinerant state is on the verge of the meditative one. You feel closer to your surroundings and also to yourself. While you let your instincts and imagination wandering, your senses are more attentive. And you start to project yourself on the landscape. Shapes are appearing slowly in it. It is not a vision of something else, but simply the revelation of the elements such as they are.




Tell us about adapting your style to the world of fashion.
After my photography school I have worked for Paolo Roversi during a year. At the beginning I was not really into the fashion world, regarding it on a commercial angle. I was more focus on my personal projects and especially “La Trajectoire du gyrovague”. But in Paolo's work I saw strong links between the art and fashion worlds. Indeed through several tricks and experimentations he rises fashion's stories to pieces of art, creating atemporal pictures. This meeting opened me the gate to the fashion world. It is a faster world than the one I am used to work in. Indeed to develop my personal project I am letting me the time to fail and experiment until I am satisfied, which is less possible while shooting an editorial. This aspect in fashion was a bit challenging firstly, but quickly I find a way to have satisfying pictures. Usually I well prepared each shooting before, by means of moodboards, talks with the team and the magazine. By those different inputs I set a frame where all the team can improvise in it during the shooting. Also there is still an important part of narration in my fashion stories that helps me to structure the editorial.

The real difference with my personal work is the part let to the team that work with me : stylist, model, hair and make-up artists, set designer, assistants. It is really a team work that should allow everybody opinions. My role is to clarify those inputs, in order to avoid any contrary deviations and to keep the relevant ones. It permits to open the stories to new horizons and have the best of everybody. If the work is too controlled, it loses the freshness of the moment, and can be even sterilized. Finally I took the fashion world as a playground where I can experiment some new ways to photograph.

What are your plans for the future?
I will continue to photograph and to explore new medias, especially video and sound.