An Interview with Fashion Photographer, Elias Wessel

Elias Wessel is a rising fashion photographer. Born and raised in Germany, Elias moved to New York in 2005 to continue persuing his career in photography. Elias's work has been featured in a wide range of fashion publications, from Vogue Italia to Futureclaw. It is clear that Elias has much more to offer to fashion photography and he has the raw passion and imagination necessary to continue creating his signature, inspirational work.

Front Row View got the chance to interview Elias on the subject of his photography, career, inspiration and more.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on making my future goals happen.

What are your plans for the future?
I don't like to talk about non completed projects and future goals. Not out of secrecy but because discussing them extensively robs me of the desire to actually do them.

Growing up in Germany, did you find that you were inspired by your surroundings or by another source?
I can get inspired everywhere. When I look out the window, a hotel room, music, emotions, the grapevine, things which surprise me. Anything that evokes memories. Anything or anyone I like to look at or listen to over and over again. From anything which gives me goosebumps. Of course there are times and places which are more inspiring than others but I always try to be aware of my surroundings. Even looking at a blank paper and thinking of what could be on there can be inspiring - no matter where I am.
Did moving to New York change your artistic vision or inspire your photography differently then when you lived in Germany?
Moving to New York changed me and of course with changing me it also changed my artistic vision. The way I get inspired is still the same. However everything which makes New York, New York makes it a fantastic source of inspiration. It's endless diversity of culture, lifestyles, thinking, art, society, it's extreme opposites and the way it can make you go through heaven and hell at the same time. It all affects your daily life and personality and there's no bigger inspiration than your personal perception of your surroundings.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
About 10 years ago I sold my first painting in my first exhibition that my sister and myself organized at a gallery in Germany. Last year I sold one of my photographs here in New York for 10 times the price of what I got for my first sold painting. People travelled more than 10 hours to come to my "Falling In Love" exhibition in Germany. Betsey Johnson used the portrait I took of her for her personal christmas card. Aaron Basha used pictures which were shot as an editorial for their worldwide advertising campaign and placed it in W Magazine and Italian Vogue.
My personal project "Falling Up" made more than one thousand people email me about how much they like it. I saw people taking pictures of my picture which was showcased at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. I gave one of my photographs to my closest friend before moving to New York. It is exhibited in his apartment and he tells everyone proudly where it came from. You are interviewing me because you saw some of my photographs... However it can look like: Highlights of my career is when I honestly feel someone truly appreciates my work.

If you could take a photograph of anyone in the world, who would it be, and why?
Today it would be Lady Gaga. I like her message that being different is a good thing. Or Tina Turner. Anna Wintour. Last year I would have probably said Michael Jackson. There are just so many interesting known and unknown personalities and characters out there. I want to work with as many of them as possible.

Who is your favourite fashion photographer and why?
Everyone who is capable of bringing his own style and personality into fashion photography. I believe that personality is the only essence that can make a photographer unique and along with that interesting to high end clients. That being said I would have to drop lots of big names here that everyone already knows anyway.

What do you think is most important - the model, the clothes or the location?
Everything has to be perfect and sophisticated for the cause of the image you want to create. When you want coincidence, there has to be coincidence. When you want glamour, there has to be glamour. When you want to tell a story, there has to be a story. When you want to make someone look beautiful, there has to be beauty. Whatever this means. Beauty can be intellect and glamour, it does not have to have anything to do with money. However you can not take a picture of something that is not there and when one single detail is not working, the whole picture is messed up.

Do you like the subject in your photograph to have an edge like the model Omahyra Mota who you recently worked with, who has a chic punk look - or is it possible to give a model their own personality through a shoot?
You can't change anyone's personality but good models can play a role, tell a story and give emotions you want to focus on. And I believe you can make anybody look beautiful if that is what you want. However there's a difference in shooting a model as a model or a model as a personality and both appeals to me. Working with Omahyra was incredibly interesting because of her personality.
I think the picture I took of her in the shower is one of the most honest and interesting portraits I have seen of her. Obviously there is her cool-sexy-loud-edgy-chic-nude-bitch-punk-look she is famous for but what I see is a underlying fragile tenderness and silent sensuality which I felt while taking this picture and when we talk. What makes me love a picture is often the feeling I get from it, not necessarily what I see. And that is up to you to make it happen.

Do you have a typical day?
Working under lights at night.

What have been your biggest challenges so far?
I want to do what I love. I want to do what I'm interested in, what I am attracted to. So I think I'm experiencing my biggest challenge so far during these times. I have a lot of confidence in my work but when you come very close to the face of suffering it makes you really ask the question of purpose. I like to think of it as beautiful struggle and a big guy just told me not long ago "Man, you know, you are living the American Dream!" and hopefully I will grow from that.

To find out more about Elias or to view more of his work, check out his offical site at:

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  1. I seriously love Elias and his work!

  2. Wow! This is so true and insightful. I want to hear more of what Elias has to say. Thanks for sharing this.


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