The Austrian Elfie Semotan has revolutionised photography, as you’ll be able to see in the documentary that will premiere on the 4th March in Vienna. Elfie Semotan, Photographer, directed by Joerg Burger, accompanies Semotan during her shootings. At the same time, she talks about the fashion and advertising photos she’s taken since the ’60s and her life-long passion for photography.
Semotan in Fashion
A former-model herself, her close friendship and collaboration with fashion designer Helmut Lang put the photographer on the map.
Never mainstream and often controversial, the Austrian tried to see out how far she could go. She explored what would be acceptable and what not in fashion photography, creating a new aesthetic.
The provocative campaign “I Dare You” Semotan made in the ’70s for the Austrian lingerie label Palmers was quite scandalous at that time. The ad campaign that showed models in black underwear was deemed too sensuous. The photographer worked for many years for the Austrian mineral water company Römerquelle; creating, again, provocative add campaigns alluding to ménage-à-trois. Over the years, she’s also challenged conventions with her photos for fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, among others.
Elfie Semotan”s signature story-telling photos that look like a still of a movie have made her famous. These photos often have reference to historical works of art, mixing art with commercial photography. The subtly erotic images refect the hedonistic Zeitgeist that was taking place in the ’80s and ’90s.
But Semotan is also known for her portraits of several celebrities, ranging from Louise Bourgeois to Milla Jonovich. She famously shot Benicio Del Toro, Collin Farrell and Willem Dafoe, making fantastic portraits. The subjects of her photos usually have something more than just beauty. She says “I’ve always had a weakness for beauty that you can’t see at first glance”. She saw, for example, in the Viennese model Cordula Reyes, something that others didn’t see at first, not even the model herself, who believed she wasn’t pretty.
The 75-year-old artist says that she’s shot her most interesting works when they’ve been little or not paid. That’s when she feels she can do what she wants, and nobody else has a say.
Where to Watch it
The premiere of Elfie Semotan Documentary will be on the March, 4th 2020 at 20h, at Film Casino, in Vienna, and with the presence of the photographer and the director.
Photos courtesy Elfie Semotan Documentary