DJ Cobalt 60: Why do you love creating images and given its frequency in your work what fascinates you so much about the female form?
Simon Bolz: Photographing females is a passion for me. It took quite a few years and trying out others things until I discovered what I truly love and want to do. It’s not only the female form that fascinates me but also their personality and body language that makes photographing women so interesting.
DJ Cobalt 60: When did you first become interested in photography? Who are some photographers who have shaped and influenced your own photography? Are you still as enamored by other photographers work as you use to be? What fuels you creativity these days?
Simon Bolz: I got my start in photography when I was in art school. I majored in photography there and as we had obligatory nude drawing classes every Monday (for 8 semesters) it somehow was very natural for me from the very beginning to shoot nudes. There are thousands of great photographers and many who I look to for inspiration. I would say I was influenced by the work of Carlos Nunez from Los Angeles and French photographer David Bellemere fascinates me a lot, too. I often feel jealous and small when I see the great works others artists have made, so I guess, this is something that never really changes. But it’s a good thing, I suppose. It means that you always want to improve and I never reached a point where I was fully satisfied with my own work. This is what keeps me going.
It may sound funny but I gain creativity from doing nothing. I discovered that I am a dinosaur at doing nothing and hardly anyone these days except for me enjoys moments like this anymore. Other people stare at their mobile phone 24/7 while I simply sit there and watch the world go by. I either observe other people on the street when I sit in a café or I just enjoy nature. This recharges my batteries, clears my mind and helps me find new ideas for photo series. There’s no such things as boredom to me, I enjoy the moments of being a witness and I assume this helps me to create moments where the viewer gets the impression of being right there on set with me when looking at my photographs.
DJ Cobalt 60: You categorize your work as nude photography though I think you bring more stylistic flare than your average nude photographer, your photos remind me of the type of creativity you typically get to see in the best fashion photography, finely straddling the line between erotic, fashion and nude photography, always suggesting more than it shows and I think it actually works to your advantage. Two of my favorite sets of yours “Crocodile Candy” and “Coming in Hot” wouldn’t resonate as well if you handled them more explicitly. The viewer’s imagination is stimulated without being overloaded. You know when to be subtle and when to be loud. Which photo shoot of yours do you think you pushed your personal limits of sensuality the furthest?
Simon Bolz: Thank you, so much. It makes me happy to read that you understand my work as I intended it to be when I created it. While I think it’s great to leave it up to everyone to see in my photographs whatever they want, I am glad that people like you feel the sensitivity I put in it. And yes, it’s true, I love to switch between being subtle and being loud. Walking on the thin line between sensuality and provocation is constantly a challenge.
I can’t really say when I pushed my limits of sensuality the furthest. Those things are never planned in advance. Every shoot carefully of mine is carefully planned and know about 50% of what and how I would like the shoot to turn out but the other 50% happens spontaneously and a lot of it depends on the personality of each model, the whole situation (location, weather) all play a certain role in a photo’s ultimate success.
DJ Cobalt 60: What is an image of yours that you believe best represents your style and aesthetic and what was the situation surrounding it?
Simon Bolz: Of my newer work, it definitely is my surfer series with Mia and this in particular shot:
Even though I admire the surfer’s lifestyle, I don’t know much about surfing myself and unfortunately never stood on a board. The surfing school that gave me the surfboard for my shoot, also gave me ‘sex wax’ (what a name!) and explained to me what you do with it. I instantly had the photo I wanted in mind and simply had to wait until the evening to take the picture at sunset.
What I love about the photo is that it is not manipulated at all. It shows Mia’s real body, a firm sexy female behind and a wonderfully slim body shape. So simple, so sexy. And like in my other work, there’s barely any retouching (just a bit of contrast and color adjustments).
DJ Cobalt 60: What’s your set-up like? How has is evolved over the years?
Simon Bolz: My preferred setup is a model, me and my camera. That’s it. No flash, no reflectors, no assistants, no one else. This is the best way to connect, to create an intimate atmosphere and to capture something you could consider to be real. Of course, I use flash in commercial projects (if the situation requires it) and even sometimes myself but most of the time I work with available light only.
Color grading plays a big part in post-production for me along with turning the small sliders and knobs slightly, so I can modify the atmosphere to the way I like. But I try to never to go too over the top with it. I am happiest when you aren’t able to tell that I changed anything.
DJ Cobalt 60: How do you like to direct your models?
Simon Bolz: During a photo shoot I talk a lot to the model, I give a lot of direction but, prefer it if a model ‘offers’ me something to work with, so we create the images together rather than me just posing a doll.
DJ Cobalt 60: I’d like to call attention to a photo set of yours that I love titled “Duckaday” the images strongly remind me of my summers spent in San Antonio, Texas, however the photos were shot on the island of Ibiza. In regards to evoking nostalgia acknowledging that not every viewer comes from the same background, is it all about going after universal truths?
Ironically I stayed in San Antonio, Ibiza with the model during our trip. So this is a funny coincidence. And yes, I want the mood I go for to speak to universal truths. I assume they exist. Like for example the movie “Emmanuelle” (with Sylvia Kristel) comes from a time that fascinates me and that influenced my look on sensuality.
DJ Cobalt 60: I want to ask you some questions about you first ever coffee table book “Frisky”, what inspired the book and how long had you been working on it? Were you surprised by how it was received by readers?
Simon Bolz: Beginning in September, the first edition of “Frisky” was sold out. 1,000 books sold in less than a year. This definitely made me super happy, especially because producing a book is a big investment and I had no idea how it would turn out. I was very happy that I sold it world-wide to many different countries. It’s nice to know that people in all over the world know and appreciate your work. So I was and still am, very thankful and happy.
I had been working on the book for over 2 years and it was my dream to someday create a real coffee table book, so this was a big step forward in my career.
DJ Cobalt 60: Your next book should be due out in 2018 is there anything you can tell us about it at this time? Will it also be a limited print like your last one?
Simon Bolz: Yes, my next book will also be a limited print. I think this makes it more interesting and special to buyers and collectors. The book will be about sexy nude women again. And it might be very interesting to see how a book in a time where publishers think nudity is old-fashioned and not appropriate in the world anymore will be perceived. I disagree with the idea that nudity is no longer relevant and want to create fantasies and images that I personally think are timeless and celebrate females. There’s not much more I can tell you about it right now except for that no girl that was in my first book will be featured again in my next book. All of the women will be new and the images never before published.
DJ Cobalt 60: Every year you release a 12 month calendar which people can order off of your website composed from photos of your work from the past year, when it comes to putting the calendar together is it as simple as choosing what you feel are your 12 best images of any given year or do you treat the process more like your editing a book?
Simon Bolz: I actually treat my calendar more like I was editing a book. However, it’s different of course as you only change the ‘page’ once a month. Still I want the images to be different, not to repeat myself and to maintain a certain flow.
DJ Cobalt 60: As an artist what is the highest compliment you can receive?
Simon Bolz: It’s fairly easy to receive compliments by men. This happens almost every day but, when I receive compliments from women, I value those a bit more, because it shows me that they can feel the eroticism, too. And that I am not exploiting women (like some people think) but showing how beautiful they can be and how much power they have.
EVERY PHOTOGRAPHER NEEDS time to play around and discover his/her own style.
GOOD MODELS are hard to find.
BAD MODELS do exist but, with experience you can find out easier who will click with you and who won’t.
THE PERSON I MOST WANT TO PHOTOGRAPH AGAIN is someone I am still looking for. I always search for new faces to work with.
THE LAST TIME A PHOTO LEFT ME SPEECHLESS was when something I tried out, worked out like I wanted to – only after a couple of tries. Luck was with me on this one, for sure.
DJ Cobalt 60: For people interested in learning more about you or your work where can they go?
Simon Bolz: Simply go to my website www.simonbolz.com. I promise frequent updates and showcase things that interest me on my blog.
DJ Cobalt 60: Is there any you would like to thank who has supported you throughout your career or been instrumental to your career?
Simon Bolz: My friend Rene de Haan, a Dutch Playboy photographer (www.renedehaan.com), who encouraged me a lot from the very beginning to do what I love even when I was unsure of my own abilities. He’s still a very good friend of mine and a great photographer, too.