REMEMBER PAUL REIFFER? THE ADVENTUROUS GUY FROM THE UK, WHO WE INTRODUCED HERE ON BEAUTIFUL IN DECEMBER LAST YEAR? PAUL STARTED MODELING IN JUNE 2008 AND HAS SINCE THEN BEEN ON A ROLLER COASTER OF PHOTOGRAPHIC ADVENTURES. FLYING ALL OVER THE GLOBE HE RAPIDLY HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER MODELS OF TODAY... REMEMBER PAUL REITZ? THE GIFTED PHOTOGRAPHER FROM NEW YORK CITY WHO WE FEATURED ONLY ONE WEEK AFTER PAUL REIFFER’S DEBUT WITH HIS SERIES OF THE TASTY SIMON CZAPLINKSI. IF YOU REMEMBER THESE TWO GENTLEMEN, YOU CAN PROBABLY IMAGINE THE MAGIC THEY CAN CREATE TOGETHER. AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY DID.
About a little over a month ago Paul Reiffer packed his things and went to New York, one of the many trips he embarked on lately. The goal of this particular trip was a meeting and work session with Paul Reitz, unknown of the fact that this would turn into something much more. The shoot not only became a BeautifulMag exclusive, it was also the start of a good friendship between the two Paul’s, which has resulted in a cooperation that went a bit further than just photographer/model. Paul and Paul decided to put their heads together and wrote about their own experiences, with and without each other. The result is the funny and entertaining double interview that we present to you today, a conversation between Paul Reitz and Paul Reiffer in their very own words.
Reiffer: London calling…
Reitz: Hey mate…greetings from Gotham.
Reiffer: So, BeautifulMag want a bit of background to the shoot we did last month in New York…
Reitz: …on a sunny and chilly day on a Chelsea rooftop. You were such a good sport, braving the elements and quite a bit of grease and dirt.
Reiffer: Ha ha – yeah, that’s the one!
Reitz: I was very gentle with you tho…
Reiffer: (laughing) yes, apart from the fact it had been snowing the night before! But I think we got what we were both aiming for, so I’m very happy with the results.
Reitz: As am I. I appreciated the willingness to try something different, for both of us, really.
We shot one-on-one. No stylist, no assistant, no hair and makeup
team…you did everything yourself. You directed every aspect - is that
typical for your shoots?
Reitz: Absolutely. Obviously, more complicated locations or shoots have required me bringing in an assistant, but that’s not how I prefer to work. So much of that can be a distraction for me, or for the subject.
Reiffer: The dynamic of working one-on-one really made the day more
“fun”, and allowed us to play around with some different ideas…
Reitz: …which is evident in the shots. That’s the most common feedback I hear; that people appreciate the intimacy, the connection. I don’t think I’m a control freak, but I have a basic direction and a plan, and the trick is to not let too much of the external take over, whether it’s clothing or location or hair & make up. There’s a person lurking underneath all that, and that’s the meat of the story…that’s what I try to capture.
Reiffer: Yeah, I can see that now. There’s certainly something a little more relaxed and comfortable when working one to one, rather than when a team of people are watching your every move. It’s also great to know that my ideas “count for something” when working that closely with a photographer.
Reitz: Indeed, all ideas are good ones when we’re shooting – it’s best to explore them. Even the crazy ones can sometimes turn out to be that killer shot.
Reiffer: Yeah, that sounds about right! I remember that guy’s face when he got into the elevator with us – a photographer and a guy with just underwear, stage grease, and a load of baby oil on. To us, it was perfectly normal – we know what we were going to shoot. To him? Well…!
Reiffer: You have somewhat of a reputation for being rather adventurous in locations…
Reitz: Yeah, well… I do like to sneak into unusual locations, go places we’re not supposed to be. And that’s part of the process, and people usually respond to the thrill. It’s going on an adventure together.
Reiffer: Ah, yes, so that explains why climbing up fire escapes and jumping from building to building seemed quite “normal” that day! So, have you got any favorites? Have you ever been kicked out of anywhere?
Reitz: There’s a couple of old abandoned factories and steel mills in Jersey City that are just incredible. I shoot there often, the long New York winter weather permitting, of course. But it’s right out of “Hostel.”
Reiffer: There’s sort of a recurring them in your work, masculine
images set against architecture or something man-made that is bare and
Reitz: I love putting a model that has all this virility, power, sexuality…into something man-made that is falling apart…I’ve always been drawn to that scenario. I invite the analysts of the world to consider that appeal, but for me, I can just say that it’s the contrast, the life in the subject set against a gritty backdrop that heightens the sexuality, the danger, perhaps. And I think I can track it back to my love of Greece and statuesque imagery. Speaking of…you have some such work that I love…where you are standing, looking gorgeous, shirtless against these brilliant, massive columns. An iconic and statuesque image…Where was that?
Reiffer: Ah, that’s a place just South of London – an old stately home near Winchester. It’s like something right out of a period drama, and has some pretty amazing backdrops as a result. That shoot was with Leigh Carter, back home – those images turned out really cool too!
Reitz: You’re one of the busiest models I know, certainly among the most globe-trotting. Where are you off to next?
Reiffer: Well, by the time this is published, I’ll be in Miami, with the guys from image1st, setting up their studio there. Then I’m off to Montreal for a few days after wards and then I get a few weeks off back home (although I’m shooting for a book during that time, so it’s not exactly “off”!) After that, it’s off to Tahoe late March for a REAL vacation at the end of the season snowboarding – that, I’m looking forward to!
Reitz: And what inspires you to shoot? More importantly, is there a
common thread that you’ve found in yourself, when working with such a
variety of individuals, each with their own style or approach?
Reiffer: Well, it’s a bit of a weird one. I never thought I’d be in a position where I would be shooting as much as I am. For work assignments, I’m getting a bit picky now – I only really go for the “hard”/rough images as I just feel more comfortable in that setting. For the more “fun” shoots I’m doing, the idea that an angle, and lighting, can make a human look SO different, just with little tweaks, I still find fascinating – and when I find a photographer who can really work those elements, great things seem to happen! So, what’s the common thread for you, if there is one?
Reitz: Hmmm…masculinity, power with a touch of vulnerability, intimacy.
Reiffer: So, I’ve been lucky enough to shoot all over the world now – but what would be a dream location for you?
Reitz: Anywhere where there’s a gorgeous subject. My friend Walter Kurtz talks about it is just easier to shoot when you have a beautiful person in front of you…and that can’t be understated, but if I had to pick a place…Palm Springs. It’s all I love…sun, heat, crisp clean air, pools, and all this mid-century modernism. And you…?
Reiffer: Well, funnily enough, I’m going to be in Palm Springs at the end of May (and you literally didn’t know that until I just said it!). But to me, the one shot I’m missing is London’s skyline by night. I’ve seen the shot I want, I just need to work out how to get it. Night-time changes things, and I love the way a static model can look so isolated against a moving background by night. That’d be the one I still have to get.
Reitz: Thanks, Paul…for a brilliant experience in working together. I
loved every minute of it. We’ll do it again when it warms up.
Reiffer: …most definitely, but if we don’t make it a warm Palm Springs, you’ll just have to come over here - I know you’ve still not shot in England…
Reitz: Fair enough! Well, London is my favorite city in the world after all, aside from NYC of course! –B-
Photography: Paul Reitz. Model: Paul Reiffer. Written by Paul Reitz and Paul Reiffer.
Read also: The Incredible Story of Paul Reiffer and A Weekend with Simon [BT].