Digital FeaturesHanamiAntonio Paredes
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Antonio Paredes

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Antonio Paredes


PHOTOGRAPHY Antonio Paredes STYLING Jeanne Dekonink HAIR Quentin Guyen MAKE-UP Leslie Dumeix MANICURIST Edwige Llorente PHOTO ASSISTANTS Jerome Couderc and Mohamed Ali MODEL Anabel @ Marilyn CAMERA Leica S (007) with Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph., Summicron-S 100mm f/2, Apo-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/2.5

Inspired by Hanami, the Japanese cherry blossom festival celebrating the blossom that fades away after a brief moment of incredible beauty, Antonio Paredes’s softly blurred photo series stages model Anabel playing the role of a fragile western Geisha. Stylist Jeanne Dekonink does a brilliant job adding modern and floral details.

S Magazine: You come from a Mexican business family with a strong sense of tradition. With such a background, how did you become a photographer? Does this background influence your photography in any way?
Antonio Paredes: Because of the pressure my father put on me to take over our family business, I knew that becoming a photographer in Mexico would never be supported. I came to France with the desire to fulfil my childhood dream  and follow my own path. In Paris, I was able to discover myself and, looking back, it was because of my family’s strong opposition that I found the strength to follow my passion.

I think my Mexican roots influence my photography, as I love the golden age of Mexican cinema, the drama in light, and the characters that are part of my upbringing. I think you can feel it in my black and white photography. On the other hand, Mexico is a colourful country, and that also influences my photography by mixing different colours and backgrounds. It’s always a reminder of my travels through the small villages of Mexico.

You have worked as an assistant to many renowned photographers, such as Craig McDean, Alasdair McLellan, Kenneth Willard, Willy Vanderperre, Horst Diekgerdes and Vincent Peters. This represents a colourful bouquet of styles and genres. How and in what form has this diversity found its way into your photographer? Have certain of these photographers influenced you in a specific way or do you do things completely differently?
I spent three years working as first assistant to Vincent Peters. It was a great schooling, as he knows how to light extremely well. Working so closely with him taught me to adapt to every situation, while recreating his universe in all different types of locations and lighting.

It was a rich experience, but working with one person makes you automatically adapt to the same universe, so you can easily lose your own photographic style. Afterwards, I freelanced with a lot of other great photographers, which showed me different methods and ways of working; and, of course, I was influenced by all of them. That helped me develop my own photography.

You live and work in Paris. Why Paris now? Is it a place where you can/want to prove yourself photographically?
Paris is an amazing city. I think it’s a great place to learn because it’s a big fashion hot spot, and all the best models and photographers come here at some point during the year…

However, to start your career as a photographer, Paris is a tough choice. I don’t think it’s open to new emerging talents like maybe London or New York. I think clients, art directors, art buyers, etc. work with more high-end brands here, and therefore don’t give access to unknown artists.

For Hanami you decided on a particular look, applied very special colours and played massively with blurriness. What’s the idea behind it?
I wanted to work with colours, something happy and sexy: I like the mix of stills, fashion and beauty. I started photographing the flowers a few days before the shoot with Anabel. I wanted the flowers to inspire the fashion and was influenced by Felix Vallotton’s stills and Sara Moon’s blurriness.

What’s the story about? What role do the flower still lifes play?
The story is about the traditional Japanese custom called Hanami, which is about enjoying the ephemeral beauty of flowers. Flowers were the origin of the project.

How did the concept arise and what role do the stylists and models play in this regard?
After I photographed the flowers, I searched for fashion and beauty inspiration. While doing the research, I found out about the Hanami ritual, which gave me the idea of a geisha. However, the subject has been covered so many times and I didn’t want to fall into a geisha cliché; so I decided to make a radical break by choosing a western model. Jeanne, the stylist, was inspired by the idea and together we created the story. I’m very happy with the result!

Do you prefer to work in full or medium format? What was the technical impulse to use the S for this series and, in your opinion, how is it evident in the photographic results?
I’ve always preferred medium format. For me it’s less of an instant but I feel the impact of the image is stronger. The S Leica is fast, the perfect balance between a full frame and a medium format camera. The sensor is great, and the raw results are stunning. I love the skin texture that it creates and the lenses are just amazing. Everything is so clear when you look through the viewfinder that, after working with it, it’s hard to work with a different camera.

Where should photography still lead us?
This is a great question! Photography has changed since the arrival of digital, and it’s still changing. More and more of the photographers I used to assist as a digital technician are now back to film. I think it’s a trend brought on by the fact that today everyone can be a photographer.

I feel that we’re harassed all the time with images everywhere, and that the quality of photography has, in my opinion, lowered. I find we are lost, and we often don’t recognise when we have a great photograph in front of us because we can’t see the difference any more.

I don’t know where photography will lead us, but I think photography as we know it will end when all the masters, like Peter, Paolo, Patrick or Bruce**, are no longer working.