Katrin Olafs

1. Aesthetics – The study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty. How has aesthetic evolved over the years and how has this influenced fashion photography? How do you approach aesthetics in your works?

My approach to aesthetics in photography is quite sparse with a minimalist sensibility. I regularly juxtapose the movement of my model with the form of either architecture or nature. Combining the nature of the female form with the urban nature of the city or the uncanny landscape of Iceland, my home country.

2. Identity – “We contain multitudes” wrote Walt Whitman, referring to the fact that we see ourselves in different ways depending on different contexts. Nowadays, gender and sexuality have been explored in many ways – art, cinema and of course fashion – and fashion photography has been perceived as a means to translate and picture actual reality. How do you reflect identity in your works? How has the perception of our own bodies changed in recent years? How has it been influenced by media and by fashion itself?

My work reflects on the social perception of the female body and how women are being presented by the media. With my work I try to strip down all unrealistic expectations we have towards images of women by creating a new way of looking at women: as their simple selves, simply humans. The perception of our own bodies is changing constantly and in a world full of images we are extremely aware of our own looks and appearance. Women get fed images of models by the media and instantly start comparing themselves to an unrealistic expectation of what women should look like. I try to create images that refrain from enhancing existing feelings of jealousy and comparison and rather try to create images that welcome you to experience and join.

3. Beauty in Fashion – “The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express” said Francis Bacon. Fashion photography once depicted a perfect kind of beauty, almost false in its perfection. Today, fashion photography focuses on imperfection and peculiar traits. Which is your relationship with beauty? How has the language of photography mutated in the past years? 

I believe that fashion photography is at a turning point at the moment, it is changing it’s movements, presenting something unusual. The fashion industry is choosing peculiar and quirky looking models to showcase their evolving designs. The fashion image is becoming more bold and abstract – finding beauty within the strange, and it is this notion of locating beauty in unfamiliar or unexpected places; in shapes, patterns, movements that I seek to achieve in my practise – celebrating the unfamiliar.

4. Sociology – The study of human behaviour. How is photography capable of picturing social changes? Is fashion photography a way to picture cultural changes within society? How have social and cultural changes influenced your works?

We live in a social media age, where we are bombarded with an immense amount of imagery every day, from everywhere we look. Instagram and other social medias have drastically changed the way fashion photography and photography is viewed in general terms. Contemporary fashion photography often looks more raw, documentary and conversational, as opposed to historically a more slick and structured construct. I believe this change makes the photos more accessible and interesting for the viewers, and let’s them get a more intimate look into the fashion industry.

5. Perceptive Variations: an exhibition about identity, gender, change. How have your works expressed this feeling? How do you express your personal background in your work?

My practise has been influenced by the representation of women in media and gender for as long as I have been creating images. Overcoming body issues as a teenager, I became very tired of a constant self-awareness of my own image, and I turned to use photography to pay my own tribute to a new way of looking at women that will insist a return to our simple selves, as humans, in a landscape.

by Giovanna Pisacane


Katrin Olafs