The Desirable Fashionable Photography of Alex Korolkovas
From fashion editorials to nudes to advertising work, Alex Korolkovas’s photographs blur the lines between genres.
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Originally hailing from the suburban São Paulo city of São Caetano, photographer Alex Korolkovas (as seen in photo 1), had a ten-year stint living in California, before returned to Brazil to further develop his craft, becoming an established name with his trademark use of sexually charged photographs, bringing an edgy eye to fashion shoots, a fashion-informed approach to nudes and provocative fine art and advertising campaigns (as seen in photo 2). He continues to create and collaborate with other artists as well as the help of his subjects, remaining open to new ideas and seeking out inspiration from places that others might write off as problems.
thalo: What are your biggest reoccurring challenges when you’re working with fashion?
Alex Korolkovas: It’s always a thrill getting to a location with a whole crew of professionals and walk out of it with an incredible shoot. I love to shoot in places I’ve never been to. You start from scratch and I try to interpret what this place will look like in my pictures, how I’m going to light it, where the models are going to stand, how can I best take advantage of the variables and do a great job. It’s always a challenge.
th: I imagine that nudes are challenging, too. What are the most difficult issues when you're shooting nudes?
AK: You are dealing with human beings when they are very vulnerable—without their clothes on—so the first thing you must do is gain their trust. Once we have their trust, then we can create really cool images together: it’s always a mix, 50% model and 50% photographer—we can only shoot what the models give. So it’s our job as photographers to get them to do things they wouldn’t normally do in order to take a great picture. I try to make them feel very comfortable and relaxed—usually after an initial awkward time. Then after things start working out, we just have fun.
th: Given the graphic nature of many fashion photography shoots, how do you differentiate your unique eye between fashion work and erotic photography?
AK: I put a lot of energy into a shoot both mentally and physically, and I love to shoot women, beauty, glamour, sex. My interests always end up rotating around sex. I see it in many visual ways and it comes out in most shoots I do. I love to work with people’s sex appeal. I think a fashion editorial can be very sexy and even erotic. The major difference in this case is the client at the end, whether it’s a fashion client or a girlie magazine.
I love shooting women, dressed or not. I work with fun and talented people, and I always say that my best picture is the next one I’ll make. Although most of the time, I feel like an absolute beginner.
th: You do a good deal of advertising photos. How do you find the balance between your own style and what you know the campaign demands?
AK: When you shoot an ad, you’re basically working with a layout to sell a product. The ad agency relies on my experience to make their ad work, so it’s always a challenge to create an image that will generate sales. I usually say that the balance is to be able to do personally rewarding, very fulfilling jobs that may not pay so much, but also to get paid well and to do a job that is more rewarding for your client than for you.
th: Tell me a little bit about your fine art photographs. What do you aim to achieve when you set out to do something that you know is strictly for you and no one else. How do you approach your subject differently than when you’re doing other shoots?
AK: When I am working on a personal project, I demand a lot more from myself then I do when working for third parties. I have higher expectations regarding the images I’ll create. I try to cover a variety of themes and subjects on my personal work, from erotic subjects to places I‘ve been or a particular state of mind I find myself in. Valentina (as seen in photo 3), was inspired directly by Italian cartoonist Guido Crepax. I wanted to bring his character Valentina to life.
I have also recently started collaborating with other artists like painter Uiso Alemany, I had him paint three nude girls with his unique abstract style, and I shot their bodies combining painting, performance and photography. Right now I’m developing collaborations with different artists to push the boundaries of my own photography (as seen in photo 4).
th: Where do you seek inspiration for your work? Do you find yourself inspired by different sources than you were in the past?
AK: I’m always looking at images, and nowadays the web is an amazing resource, but I do love to get away from my computer and get out to exhibitions, movies, or just walk around the city, observing how light affects things.
I always tell my students, you need to have a repertoire. So when you start shooting, somehow, all that knowledge you acquired, will have an impact on the image you’ll make. The difference between how I inspire myself now, is that most of my research is done on the web. But the sources are the same.
All photos courtesy of the artist.