Photographer Thorsten Roth: “The capture of a perfect picture requires almost always “Going Into the Zone”, fine-tuning and finding the perfect “key”

04 jul, 2013

I grew up in Germany in a town called Iserlohn and started Photography at the age of 13. My grandfather and father both were into amateur Super 8 filming. I preferred Photography because I could control the entire process starting with shooting, developing the film and then printing in the darkroom. I took school workshops and then later on, I went to one of the best Photo-/Film Design Colleges.

After graduating I followed my dream and moved to Paris and started to work as a freelance photo-assistant for Vogue Photo Studio – after that I assisted and worked under many great photographers (Oliviero Toscani, Patrick Demarchelier et al), so I can say that I paid my dues and learnt “old-school”.

When it comes to my style I believe that German Expressionism is certainly at my roots. Paris with its sophistication and exquisite tastes had a huge impact on me. Because of my Design back-ground I also believe very strongly in the commercial application of photography and New York is the perfect place for that, besides that it is a fantastic place to live!

The digital revolution:  necessary and positive

It is obvious that the technical advancements and the changes in workflow have pushed us into a different dimension. This is a double-sided sword: On one hand progress is necessary and positive! On the other hand the “digital revolution” democratized photography and provided a saturation of the medium which led to a devaluation of the craft of photography itself. In the big picture these facts are already “water under the bridge” and to argue about it has only nostalgic value.

At the end technology is an important tool in the creative process. Only – it will never really replace artistic intuition and creative vision!

Worldwide economic crisis on fahion photography?

This is a very complex question as it depends on which sector of the fashion photography market you are talking about? In general the market is much more conscious and more conservative about budgets than before and I think this mentality will reign also the near future. Despite that there will always be good and big budgets in the high end luxury and big brand’s branding- and advertising photography.

We are in a time of transition and diversification – video and interactive applications have taken a big chunk of the market with more to come. Because of the obvious technical innovations there is a constant flux.

The degree of enthusiasm and the willingness to be part of this evolutionary process is deciding who’s in and who’s out.

Next to this trend I regard creativity & quality as the most promising virtues for a place in the market of fashion photography.

The special moments capturing a perfect picture

As a photographer it is your job to make it happen, period! There are a couple of things that lead to that moment:

A) Like a good musician you have to master your technique: exercise, exercise, exercise!!! Let it become your second nature in order to “forget’ about it when you shoot!

B) You have to know yourself very well, be honest and be aware of your tastes and what you are going for!

C) The right casting-choices are a big pillar together with communicating your creative intentions to the models and to create a great emotional connection – I must believe in them and they have to trust me, we have to click with each other!

D) Then you have to put in on stage, show-time! – stay very focused and relaxed at the same time. Often magic moments are just happening as an “afterthought”, an improvisation on your initial plan. The so called “accidents” need their space, you have to be able to go with the flow and to let it happen.

The capture of a perfect picture requires almost always “Going Into the Zone”, fine-tuning and finding the perfect “key”! And then when it’s happening I personally have this very pleasant, harmonious, sensual sensation in my stomach – time seems to stand still. It’s like falling in love with the moment, getting seduced by the situation without loosing awareness.

I shoot it – I got it and it feels wonderful – these are the moments I live for!

In the aftermath it is very important to stop quickly afterwards. The perfect picture is a momentary gift, Lady Muse comes around the corner and gives you a big kiss. Then it’s time to move on and hopefully fall in love again.

Funny/unusual backstages´ moments: the magic parts looking perfect!

“Snapshot” during the last video-shooting: The mesmerized, amused  and very enthusiastic expression on my make-up artist’s face observing the stylist adjusting a sock-prop in my male model Gianluca’s Calvin Klein underwear to make his “magic parts” look perfect!!! :)

Top cool favorite places for a shooting and why

When I lived in Paris I shot a lot at La Défense because of the its graphical, futuristic architecture.

In general I love very much to photograph in industrial environments to create a strong, esthetic contrast between high end fashion and the rough environment. On the contrary I also like to shoot in nature. Beaches are very relaxing, Barbedos is a great place.

One of my most favorite places to shoot is of course New York particularly Time Square – being surrounded by chaos, jump around with my models in slow traffic  – absorbing the energy and “melting” in the location!


Elza/Marilyn NYC

© 2013 All rights reserved by Thorsten Roth 

A special moment

When the Smithsonian Institution accepted my Portfolio of American Jazz Musicians, EVERLAST featured me with my boxer series “Fighters” and Joan Osborne’s Album “Bring It On Home” for which I shot the photography and directed/produced the video was nominated for the Grammy Awards 2013.


The actual and upcoming Projects

I just shot a very sexy lingerie/fur fashion editorial in the Financial District close to Wall Street. It was a night shooting and I was working with 2 models: Lyza and Betta from MC2 Model Management – I loved working with them because they allowed me to walk the thin line of sexiness, provocation and sophistication – they both were just amazing!

Otherwise I am in PostProduction of 3 Fashion Videos featuring Calvin Klein Underwear. It was produced several weeks ago and I directed on a soundstage at Windmill Studios here in Brooklyn. We had tons of lighting going and shot on a Red Epic. Beside the creative joy I am also very excited about the technical quality.

My models were Gianluca Di Sotto/Q Model Management and Veronika/MC2. Gianluca’s Italian personality embodies the combination of male macho and a touch of feminine sensibility that allowed me to create a more complex image of a man in my story.

Veronika has an irresistible edge and a very seducing beauty – both, Gianluca and Veronika were all game and I can’t wait to  finish the editing and presente the final versions of these branding videos.

So, I am up for several ad-jobs, one is for one of the biggest eye-wear chains of the US – otherwise there are other shoots lined up: two CD Cover projects, a branding-project for an urban fashion-label, an editorial men’s fashion cover-story and on the top I’ll push for a couple of fashion-videos.

The Photographer

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All photos:  © 2013 All rights reserved by Thorsten Roth 

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