Ralph Mecke, Photographer Interview

Fewer industries offer a broader arrange of career opportunities than fashion. In our ongoing series, The Impression highlights some of the industry’s most talented people and interesting jobs.

How did you get your start in photography?
The very beginning of my interest in photography began with my first recognition of an image when I was 8 or 10 years old. I remember exactly. I saw Diane Arbus’ picture of the Las Vegas dancer and that photograph stuck in my mind. It is still basically the quintessence of what I love about photography – the portrait, the nudity, black and white, but first and foremost the world she lives in. As a guy from Berlin, growing up in a blue collar environment, that world still fascinates me. When I saw that Diane Arbus photograph, my decision was made. I never regretted it. I love photography.

What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
Diane Arbus, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Robert Frank, Steven Klein

What makes a great fashion photograph?
“I hate good taste. It’s the worst thing that can happen to a creative person,” I love that quote from Helmut Newton. It seriously gets straight to the point. I feel the same. That being said I love beautiful things. But that doesn’t mean these two don’t go together. To me a great fashion photograph still needs both – the beauty and the…call it what you want…rawness, bad taste, etc. otherwise one risks boredom.

What sort of impact do you think digital has on fashion photography?
I don’t see any serious impact of digital on fashion photography, but I believe that one can certainly see the consequences of digital photography on fashion. The digital aspect of photography did send waves through the fashion industry. Snapping pics during shows, for example, and posting them before the show is even over made a massive impact. People are bored by the clothes when they come to the stores. They have seen them a million times and in the back of their heads, they are already on to the next. In the meantime the designs get copied and are in other stores for a reasonable price. Everyone knows the next season is coming soon so why spend a fortune.

Favorite Film
One of my favorite films is Mystic River. It might be an odd choice for a photographer, but perhaps because I can see through all the technique, I don’t need special lighting or effects, just a solid story. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like to watch beautifully stylized films, but in general, my heart is with a story teller and the human drama. I am a big fan of Tran Anh Hung films. His mixture of human drama and visuals is quite inspiring.

What type of impression do you want to make?
I have no idea, what impression I make, or would want to make.  I’m a bit more ‘in the moment’ than that. It’s more about living up to my own expectations. I like to have an enjoyable shoot, but I also take it extremely seriously and hold the team to high standards. I like a lot of prep so that the team is working together in the same direction, a road map if you will, then if a problem arises, as is often the case, we can remain flexible, change things around, and still arrive at a great result. I’m pretty hard on myself, but I hope that only comes across as conscientious.

Ralph Mecke is a Photographer on the The Impression Biannual Vol. 2