A lens less ordinary: Ekaterina Bazhenova’s cinematic approach to fashion photography

A lens less ordinary: Ekaterina Bazhenova's cinematic approach to fashion photography

Photographer and videographer Ekaterina Bazhenova channels Helmut Newton, who once said that the perfect fashion photograph looks more like a still from a film

2 October 2013

Ekaterina Bazhenova is no stranger to bold statements. Throughout her work, the fashion photographer and videographer has eschewed the banal imagery associated with commercial fashion in favour of a personal story that uses the language of art. In a video for British fashion magazine Pop, she positions the camera behind the model’s left shoulder. The model is dressed in a yellow coat — the “high yellow” of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers —and is filmed up-close against a cornflower blue table. We watch the model as she peels two lemons before taking a sip of water from a glass, which she then slams down on the table. We never see her face and we only ever see part of the coat. For Bazhenova, both model and clothing are only ever just one element of her overall vision.

Having moved to London from Moscow in 2006, Bazhenova has worked for a raft of fashion magazines that, in addition to Pop, includes Husk and Tourist, all known for their innovative photography. Her works have a distinct feel to them: minimal and monochrome; distant, almost cold, but also sensual. Through her work, she channels photographer Helmut Newton, who once said that the perfect fashion photograph looks more like a still from a film or a portrait. Beautiful on the surface, her images portray a deeper sense of alienation. “I think I’m a bit obsessed with beauty itself in a wrong way,” she says. “I believe that beauty is a bitch and it’s never perfect. It’s the opposite of perfection.” Presented in a special edit for The Calvert Journal, this is Bazhenova in her own words and pictures.


Bazhenova knows what it’s like to feel imperfect.


When at work in her studio in Battersea in south London, Bazhenova is always in full control of the image. She carefully selects the clothes the models wear, designs the set and then quietly and studiously watches them.


Her photos are full of thin, pale, dark-haired girls with large doe eyes who seem restless in the white rooms in which they are photographed or otherwise lost in total darkness.


Food too has been an object of fascination throughout Bazhenova’s life.


When she’s not taking inspiration from food, Bazhenova turns to film, using voiceovers from old art house movies for her own videos.

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