Sarah Klose: First of all, please tell me a little bit about the beginning of your career. How and when did you start your way in this business?
Anne Combaz: I started as a photographer in Cairo 10 years ago. I’d always taken photographs as an amateur, but I needed a job and heard they were looking for a photographer. I pretended I was a professional and I had my first cover a month after. I was very excited but also very scared to have my ‘imposture’ discovered. This feeling lasted years actually…
SK: What does a typical day in your life look like? Are you happy with the development?
AC: My typical day is usually on front of a computer, editing or retouching my latest job, or preparing the next one. I’m quite satisfied with the direction my career is taking, in the sense that I have more and more freedom to express what I want in my pictures.
SK: In your own opinion, what makes your photos unique and how long does it take till you are happy with a result?
AC: I cannot really tell you why they are unique. It is not one of my goals. I try to be sincere when I take a picture, and I shoot more like a photo reporter; very quickly, so usually it doesn’t take long before I consider I have the image I wanted. Otherwise I just move on, I don’t insist.
SK: When you do a shoot is it important for you to communicate with your model before you start shooting to build a connection or do you rather like to start directly?
AC: I do explain the idea of the shoot to the model, but in a very brief way. I don’t want to over-explain or go into cryptic concepts. I stay pragmatic and tell them what I will need from them; energy, or moves. Usually they understand very quickly the atmosphere I want, and I don’t hesitate to give them time to put themselves in this mood. I’d keep shooting and say that it’s nice, for example, just to make them feel comfortable, until I get the right pictures.
SK: Beside your editorial shoots for various magazines you also take many backstage pictures during fashion shows. What do you prefer; working with an exact concept and precise guidelines or taking pictures spontaneously? What are the differences?
AC: Actually I quite love the fact that I can have both. Each kind of work is a different challenge as you described it. One very spontaneous, the other more prepared. The backstage is definitely more stressful as I have to catch very short moments that will not happen a second time, so I am more concentrated during this kind of shoot. The editorials are more a team management, my concentration goes mostly to the organization. I might want to try and inject more spontaneity in my next editorial work though. I am working on it.
SK: How would you react if you would get the chance to shoot for an established magazine but you don’t like the concept or idea behind it?
AC: Hopefully if they choose to work with me they are familiar with my work and don’t want to go too far from my universe. But if the situation happens you must be professional and explain why you don’t believe in this concept and offer something else, a plan B. If the discussion doesn’t reach an agreement, you should not shoot it, because in the end it’s your name on the pictures, so you’re the one who will feel bad.
SK: What does a model need to catch your interest so that you want to use them in a shoot? Do you have a favorite type?
AC: The casting depends on the idea of the shoot. For a sexy story and an androgyny story I will not need the same kind of models of course. Models are so important! It all stands on their shoulders, you must work with them, show their beauty, and not transform them into what they are not. That is what I think. As for a certain kind of models, it depends. I do like very fair, white skins, because of the light it reflects in the photographs, but lately I am fascinated with very dark, black models. I like big eyes and small lips – I realized that I don’t like big lips that much. Otherwise it fluctuates a lot, there are so many amazing girls and boys at the agencies now.
SK: When is a working day particularly satisfying for you?
AC: I appreciate when there were some extra pictures that I didn’t expect, some ‘accidents’ that might look great, or when the weather offers us an incredible light for 15 minutes and we manage to use it. I like when everyone in the team goes the extra mile to create a beautiful story. It is teamwork, really.
SK: Can you remember any situations in your career where you failed or where you had to take a setback?
AC: So many times! I failed a lot technically when I started, but it taught me a lot, obviously, and also how to react with a client etc… Otherwise I had strong doubt a couple of years ago in Paris if I should continue this work or not, because I didn’t receive a lot of positive criticism. But luckily it was at the same time I put my site online, and the comments from unknown people gave me faith, and then I met my boyfriend who strongly believed in my work so I was back at work with increased energy.
SK: Do you have any tips for those who also want to start their way in the fashion business? What should they watch out for?
AC: If that is what they want they should go for it and not listen to the pessimistic comments about how the market is saturated etc. Be prepared for a real commitment to your work though, and be yourself, be unique, search for what you want to say. Don’t just copy a style, be as sincere as possible, and sometimes less is better – in fashion. I think that is golden advice…
TagsAlexandre Vauthier, Andrew GN, Anne Combaz, Lanvin, manish arora, Paco Rabanne, Sarah Klose,