Amazon.com offers this much abbreviated biography of Frederic Aranda: “he is a native Swiss photographer based in London, who contributes to magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair, and collaborates with brands like Cartier and Cutler and Gross.” This is but a minuscule resume or description of this artist’s oeuvre and it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the man and his talents.
As it turns out, Freddie as he is called by friends is one of those photographer/ artists that happens to be a legend in the making and much more than just the sum of his parts. He is one of the most gifted photographers of his generation and is undoubtedly an icon in the making. Oh, and he is charming, wry, intelligent, witty and carries an unmistakable mischief about him especially with that irrepressibly boyish smile.
Lucky for me that Freddie is a friend along with his longtime pal Christine Suppes with whom he co-authored a book. Together they gave the genre of fashion books a monograph that could have only been accomplished by 2 kindred spirits with a single vision and a love for the visual as well as for fashion. (Electric Fashion, SKIRA) In other words they wrote a love letter to fashion and style.
“Suppes and Aranda describe this project as a journey, but this is an unbelievably intimate demonstration of one woman’s adoration of fashion with her “partner in crime.” Together, they have created one of the great fashion books to have come along in this millennium to date. “www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/electric-fashion#sthash.B2VRE39g.dpuf
The accompanying images speak for themselves even though Freddie has become known for his stellar and distinctive group portraits; he is an artist at heart whose “eye” is that of a portrait painter possibly of the Renaissance era. The clarity of image, the laser sharp line, the contrasts, the colorations and the intensity are only some of the aspects that account for the startling and mesmerizing reactions one has when each image is viewed. He has been the subject of several one man shows including one at the V&A which featured his work for Electric Fashion as well as one to benefit the victims of the Fukushima debacle in Japan. Don’t let me forget to mention that his subjects have included Dame Vivienne Westwood, Prince Phillip, Margaret Thatcher, Farrell Williams, Tom Ford, Ben Stiller, just to name a few!
At the end of the day, it is my opinion that Mr. Aranda will more than hold his own in the pantheon of great photographers since despite his relatively young years he has achieved a professional reputation and level of perfection that will rival the greats of the 20th century. In essence, he is not some snap shot or fly by night flavor of the month photographer like so many who receive underserving praise and attention.
Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Freddie, the visual storyteller … in his own words:
Jeffrey Felner: Can you give us a brief synopsis of how you arrived to where you are today professionally?
Frederic Aranda: I am a self-taught photographer. I did a degree in Japanese at Oxford, during which time my parent’s divorce got me taking pictures of my mother to help her feel beautiful during a difficult time. It was a distraction (for both of us) at first. In order to improve technically, during term time I practiced on my Oxford classmates so that I could return home to Switzerland during the holidays to take better pictures of my mum. Yet, it’s what I did photographically at Oxford, not at home, which gained momentum and which got me launched as a portrait photographer in London after completing my degree. I’ve been working professionally as a photographer for about 10 years in London, and have done three solo exhibitions (the last one at the V&A), many editorials, and a book. The pictures of my mother have never been shown anywhere but they contain all the passion and naiveté of an aspiring photographer.
JF: Let’s speak of Electric Fashion: how did it come about, any plans for a sequel and how did you and Christine meet and decide to do this?
FA: Electric Fashion (MAY 2015) is collaboration between myself, shooting all the pictures, and Christine Suppes writing all the texts. It’s my first book. It came about organically after I started photographing Christine’s clothes and realised that there was an incredible collection here which needed to be shared with the outside world. The question then became how to share it in a unique way, and that was where I had to convince her to pose for me in the clothes as opposed to shooting them just as still life. We are not planning a sequel to Electric Fashion but are working on something different which draws on my experience as a portrait photographer and on her life experience in California.
JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why them?
FA: My guests would be John Waters, Bette Midler, Gina Riley, Jane Turner and Princess Diana. All of them have/had a joie de vivre and a particular point of view that could only make for one hell of a dinner!
JF: If you could choose any collaboration, who or what would it be and why?
FA: Anohni*, truly a remarkable inspired talent
JF: What’s the best advice you ever received and from who and what’s your advice to up and coming photographers?
FA: My advice is to find your voice as a photographer. Ask yourself why you are taking pictures every single day. The answer to that question will give you your subject matter. Also, kindness.
* Anohni (stylized as ANOHNI), formerly known as Antony Hegarty or Antony, is an English-born American singer, composer, and visual artist. She is best known as the lead singer of the band Antony and the Johnsons.