Digital FeaturesLeft at the AltarJulia Kiecksee
Dress: Lethicia Bronstein Veil: A White Chapel
Dress: Xylea Shoes: Micheal Kors Earrings: Jared Jamin
Dress: Xylea Shoes: Micheal Kors Earrings: Jared Jamin
Top: Maggie Barry Earrings: Jared Jamin
Top: Aya by DK Bottom: Aya by DK Shoes: Micheal Kors Necklace and Earrings: Jared Jamin
Dress: Kooples
Dress: Lethicia Bronstein Veil: A White Chapel
Top: Maggie Barry Jacket and Pant: Aya by DK Boots: JF London
Top: Maggie Barry Jacket and Pant: Aya by DK
Top and Skirt: Maggie Barry Boots: JF London
Top and Skirt: Maggie Barry
Dress: Lethicia Bronstein Veil: A White Chapel Boots: JF London
Left at the Altar · Julia Kiecksee 1 / 1


Julia Kiecksee


© Roman Dachsel

Photography: Julia Kiecksee Stylist: Styling by Andru Hair: Carlos Gallegos Make up: Alysia Tavidagian @LeiV Agency Model: Carolina Ballesteros @Modelwerk Camera: Leica S (Typ 007) with Summarit-S 70 f/2.5 ASPH. (CS) and APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120 f/2.5 (CS)

Tying the knot in Las Vegas is almost as popular as trying your luck in one of the city’s opulent casinos. But what if the groom doesn’t show up? Working with the Leica S, Hamburg-based photographer Julia Kiecksee created a cinematic fashion story about shattered dreams and broken hearts amidst a glittering world of fortune seekers and impulsive weddings.

When did you start working in the field of fashion and beauty photography?
I was still at school when my father gave me an old analogue mirror reflex camera, and that’s how it all began. I was absolutely fascinated by fashion and beauty photography. So I completed an internship with a fashion photographer in Hamburg and, once I’d done my A-levels, started working in the industry. That was eleven years ago.

Do you have any specific role models, and if yes, who are they?  
My all-time favourite photographer is Steven Meisel. He has a unique way of expressing something that is both beautiful and broken, and tends to address very interesting topics. There have been many occasions when I’ve been inspired by his work. I also admire Steven Klein and David LaChapelle and, of course, the old masters such as Avedon.

How did you come up with the idea for your fashion story, ‘Left at the Altar’?
I’ve long been fascinated by the concept of spontaneous weddings in Las Vegas, so it seemed apt to explore it in my work. I’m also a great fan of wedding dresses, though I wouldn’t necessarily want to photograph them in a conventional manner. There is just something glorious and innocent about them.

And yet, the wedding pictures you captured in Las Vegas don't include a happy ending – nor, in fact, a husband-to-be…
The core theme of the series is summarised in the title: the bride finds herself waiting in vain in a little chapel in Las Vegas, slowly realising what has happened. We consciously decided not to show the groom at all, in order to intensify that feeling of having been abandoned. Essentially, this is a story about hopeful dreams giving way to harsh disappointment.

In line with this theme, your model is always depicted on her own – looking desolate in empty streets and parking lots, illuminated by almost mercilessly bright lights…
In the beginning she is still waiting at the chapel, not quite willing to believe what’s happened to her. It gradually sinks in that she really has been left at the altar. So we see her, for example, in the washroom – looking lonely and fragile, as she starts to grasp her situation and fall into despair. She goes through various stages of anguish until she reaches a state of resignation, which is when we see her standing apathetically in a parking lot.

Your protagonist, the jilted bride, is clad in very elaborate, almost baroque-style dresses. The setting around her, on the other hand, is rather sparse. What draws you to such juxtapositions?
Contradictions have always piqued my interest. In fact, I’ve previously also photographed a man wearing a wedding dress. With these types of contrasts, the viewer’s gaze inevitably lingers a moment longer. It’s also why I like to introduce a degree of imperfection to every photograph. I produced this project together with my regular team from Los Angeles, which is why I could comfortably give my stylist relatively free rein. I think it’s important for every collaborator to have plenty of creative space.

What camera equipment did you use to shoot this series?
As with many of my previous projects, I worked with the Leica S (Typ 007) with a Summarit-S 70 f/2.5 ASPH (CS) and a Macro-Summarit-S 120 f/2.5 (CS).

How did you deal with the bright, almost dazzling desert light?
I’ve always liked shooting in daylight, and in my opinion the light in Las Vegas is absolutely incredible. Every now and again, I soften the light with a reflector, but generally I like it natural. The main challenge was to match the scene in the washroom to our outdoor shots, given that I had to work in such a small space using only available light.

What other ventures do you have in mind for the near future?  
I have an idea for a new long-term project that I’ve been harbouring for some time now, but I won’t reveal any details just yet. As for the more imminent future, I’m about to fly back to California for another editorial, which will be set in the streets of Downtown LA.