Simon Bolz (born 1976) graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts in Frankfurt in 2002. About his style, the photographer says:
„Good taste and sensitivity are the ingredients of my images.”
Pictorials by Simon were published several times in magazines such as Playboy, Men’s Health and TRIP magazine.
Which place do you call home?
I reside in Frankfurt, Germany. But I travel a lot and gain energy from being at other places. I don’t like traveling but I enjoy being elsewhere. It probably is the excitement of discovering new things that I enjoy when being abroad. So my home really is basically the place where my stuff is.
Are you self taught or schooled?
At the Academy of Visual Arts in majored in Photography. I learned many of the basics there but we had only nude drawing classes. Not nude photography. So, I’d say, most of what I do now is self taught by looking carefully around, always being curious in life.
How did you get into photography?
I began with photographing portraits. The intensity of a human face always fascinated me. When I was a kid, I wanted to become a detective. Nowadays, I sometimes feel that photography feels similar. You investigate and discover something that is there but hidden.
How long have you been a photographer?
My professional career began in 2006. But it took me several years to find out who I am and where I want to go. My first production for Playboy was in 2012 and I have been very busy ever since.
As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in capturing your image?
I want to find the balance between having a nice flow in the shooting and creating a near to perfect composition. If the model and I manage to surf on the same wave, I will be happy. Even though I have specific images in my head when being in a certain situation, I always want to include the model’s personality in my shots.
How would you describe your style?
My motto is “too much perfection is a mistake”. I try to remember myself to this whenever I photograph. Perfect images get boring in my opinion, therefore I try to avoid this.
My style is very honest. Women I photograph are always in control, proud of displaying their sexy bodies and never used as objects. This is very important to me.
What do you think makes a truly memorable photo?
A truly memorable photo is a picture you want to hang on your wall, a photo you can watch over and over again without getting bored. We live in times of over-saturation and we are faced with thousands of images on social networks every day. If you manage to create a photo that will make viewers hold their breath for a moment, you have created a truly memorable photo.
We know each of us has someone or something that inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?
Many people already asked me where I get my inspiration from. It was very difficult for me to answer in the past. But most recently I found out what it really is: I takes breaks. Real breaks. While other people check their smartphone every few minutes, I turn it off. I go outside, watch people pass by, enjoy nature, just sit on a bench, don’t speak, don’t listen to music, I simply seize the moment. This is very inspiring for me and I assume it has to do with over-saturation in media. So these contrary moments help my mind to relax and come up with new ideas.
What does fashion mean to you?
In my shootings I do all the styling myself. I started doing so when I realized that it’s easier to care for the styling than to rely on other people. Many models have poor taste. Don’t get me wrong. There are supermodels and great fashionistas. But there are also many, many beginners who style as if they were 30 years older. They often don’t see the potential I see in them. And they tend to overstyle often.
I would be happy if people used their brain more when dressing. Fashion is an expression of your personality and not just a commercial thing.
What’s the craziest/funniest thing that ever happened in one of your shoots?
When I was shooting a nude woman in Ibiza, we went very far outside on a beach and after half an hour of walking we reached a deserted bay where we were the only ones. I began to photograph and all of a sudden a naked man with a stiff dick stood behind me. He scared me to death because he was suddenly there. The model took it so cool and began to laugh. But I definitely won’t forget this shooting.
What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
I am a big fan of Carlos Nunez from Los Angeles. Looking at his pictures, I can tell he has good taste. And I believe this is most important for creating good pictures.
What has been your favorite photo location or session?
I love photographing on islands. When you are near the sea, there is so much more light than in a city. And as I prefer to work with available light only, beaches are my favorite places.
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
Since August this year, I photograph with a Sony Alpha 7RII. I felt it was the right time to try out something new. But I also love my Canon 1ds MKIII. It has been a great companion for many years. And from time to time I also shoot with my Phase One 645DF. It has the greatest lenses and medium format is something different, but it’s heavy and complicated for traveling.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
As I try to create stories that feel real, I’d go with a 50mm lens as it shows more or less what we see with our human eyes. So either my Zeiss 55mm 1.8 (on the Sony) or the Canon 50mm L1.2 or the Schneider Kreuznach 55mm (on the Phase One).
Do you prefer flash or daylight?
Working with daylight only is my absolute favorite. It makes it more difficult as I have not much control over the light situation but it’s always good to be challenged to find a way to work with the light.
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
It’s a small plastic glass that I bought at an optician. Sometimes I hold it in front of my lens when shooting to create some blurriness and to add depth to my photos.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
Color grading plays an important role in my photography. I turn sliders in post production until I am happy with the result. Usually I spend a full day with setting the colors and then I sleep over it and re-adjust things the next day again. I am very picky with this.
Skin retouching is something I don’t like to do at all, so I only spend and average of half an hour on this.
How important is a website and social media for your business?
My website helped me gain popularity a lot. While I use facebook and twitter, I am not happy with how social media developed. There are already too many images and opinions out there. I don’t see how this can be a benefit for our socities if we increase the number of posts every day.
Do you listen to music while doing your shooting? If so, what are you playing right now?
Everything that helps a model get into the right mood is good. So, of course, I use music as well. I prefer to listen to music the model likes but I really hope not to be forced to three hours of Russian techno music again soon.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
Don’t listen to other people. Concentrate on yourself and do your thing. But do your thing. Don’t wait for things to come to you. Start doing them. You will fail. You will fail again. But you will improve. Doing things is much better than pressing like buttons on things other people do.
What lies ahead for you?
I began to work on my next coffee table book. For this I want to experiment and try out new things. Right now, I am searching new models to work with in 2016.
Besides that, I plan to film a little again and I want to stay curious.
Thanks a lot for the interview Simon Bolz.