My name is Stefan Imielski. I was born in Munich, Germany, and grew up in a small village called Schliersee. When I was young, I always tried to become a professional tennis player. At the age of 21, I stopped playing tennis professionally and worked in the fashion industry for around 15 years as a model. In all those years, I became more and more interested in photography and I changed sides. For the last four years, I have worked just behind the camera.
Which place do you call home?
Definitely Munich. It’s such a calm beautiful city. I really feel good there. After all my trips, I am happy to be back.
Are you self taught or schooled?
My best teacher was my former job as a model. I believe, there is no better way to learn. I made the experience, how the models feel and to what you should pay attention. Some photographers treat the model as a machine, but they also have feelings.
How did you get into photography?
I learned photography, when I was young. I got my first camera from my father, when I was 12. Then I was taught in school, how to work with analogue cameras. But at this time, I had so many dreams in my head, so I was not too focused on photography. There was also a time, where I wanted to become a camera man for movies. But now I realized that being a photographer is a real dream job. I am so happy to have found my way.
How long have you been a photographer?
I have been doing it for four years.
As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in capturing your image?
I would not express it as a critical moment. I would say, sometimes you just miss a big shot, because you are too slow or too fast. But then, there comes a new situation and you catch it and then it’s even better than before. So I would say, we should not be too scared that we don’t get the right pictures. Just relax and let it happen and it will …
How would you describe your style?
I like a mixture between a bit of fashion and a bit of skin. I like it, when the model is nude and has just a nice jacked on. So you don’t see anything, but its more exciting than too many outfits. So I like to keep it simple with a bit of provocation. I also work with a lot of firstclass fashion models.
What do you think makes a truly memorable photo?
Always something that stays in your mind. There exist one million good pictures, but only pictures stay in your mind, which are somehow caught at the right time at the right place with the right person. You cannot plan something like this too much. You are lucky, if you can get one big picture a day.
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?
There are many very good photographers, who inspire you every day. I am a big fan of Mario Testino and Camilla Akrans for example. Two days ago, I spent one day in a museum of art in Munich, the Pinakothek der Moderne (of Modern Arts). It was also a great inspiration.
What does fashion mean to you?
I am not too much a fashion person. As I work in this industry and see all the crazy staff and outfits, which the stylists bring to the shootings all the time, I prefer the simple version. Just jeans and t-shirt or a nice jacket.
What’s the craziest/funniest thing that ever happened in one of your shoots?
There were many funny situations. Once a girl was dancing on the set and made a step too far back and the background fell over her. So she was caught like by a spider in the net. Once we did a casting in Cape Town in a very luxurious and beautiful house and there was a small pool for the fish at the entrance. And one girl made a step too far to the side and fell in the water. Thank goodness, she didn’t kill a fish. The fish were worth 20.000 dollars.
What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
Mario Testiono, Camilla Akrans Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, Mario Sorrenti, Alexi Lubomirski.
What has been your favorite photo location or session?
One of my favorite places to produce is Cyprus. I fly there every year several times. You have always a good weather and so many beautiful locations. I also have one production partner, who lives there and he organizes everything for me. So it’s a real relaxing atmosphere.
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
I shoot at the moment with a Nikon D800.
If you had to choose one lens, which one would it be and why?
If I could keep only one, I would take the 70-200. It’s one of the best lenses for fashion photo-graphy.
Do you prefer flash or daylight?
I like both, but daylight is easier and you can have much nicer effects. With flash, you need a very complicated set up to get the same effects.
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
My Mac book pro.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
It’s very important. But most pictures, I don’t retouch by myself. I have a very good team, which retouches my pictures.
How important is a website and social media for your business?
It’s also very important. You have to keep up with the times. Nowadays, you have so many possibilities to promote yourself. The people, who are not up to date, are either already very famous or missing a big chance.
Do you listen to music while doing your shooting? If so, what are you playing right now?
Yes, of course. Without music, it’s hard. I always ask the model, what kind of music she prefers. It’s important that the models are in a good mood. My music, which I listen to, would not help the models too much. I prefer German music. Sometimes rock or punk.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
Just try and find out if you like it… quite simply, there are no rules as to what is good, what is bad. So just don’t waste time, if you really want it. It’s really a dream job. And most important, don’t expect it to be easy ….
What lies ahead for you?
I have the luck to shoot in the next weeks for some big magazines with some big names… It will be Harpers Bazaar, Lofficiel, ELLE, Grazia…, the names are secret.