Liron Peretz is a talented Berlin-based fashion photographer who has been covering Fashion Week events for the last three years. For Lomography, she took the New Petzval Lens to the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin. Find out how she got along with it in this exclusive interview and see some of her beautiful backstage photos!
Name: Liron Peretz
City / Country: Berlin, Germany
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Please introduce yourself to the Lomography community.
I’m a fashion photographer based in Berlin. For the last three years, I’ve also been covering Fashion Week events and scouting upcoming young designers to cover for Vogue Italia. I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this legendary publication.
I specialize in backstage photography for fashion labels, PR, and advertising agencies. I also cover “behind-the-scenes” and “making-of” photo shoots for commercial campaigns.
My first introduction to photography had been when I was a child through the family’s compact Kodak camera. Throughout the years I’ve accumulated more knowledge and experience in analog photography and started collecting 35mm and medium format cameras. While today I mostly shoot digital, I still come back to my film cameras for personal moments and artistic projects.
My understanding of composition and lighting came early when I was majoring in cinema in high school. I would sometimes freeze the frame and look for cinematic expressions like color, camera angles, composition, and anything else I could find. I still find myself doing this. One of the latest films that had me pressing pause many times was “Ida.” Although I later completed a degree in communications, I have maintained my interest in photography [by] working as an assistant to fashion photographers. This was also how I started out in fashion photography and what got me hooked on it.
You had the chance to test the New Petzval Lens at the Berlin Fashion Week. Tell us about this experience. What do you like most about the lens?
Coming to the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Autumn/Winter 2015 with a new lens was exciting, and I was happy to be representing Lomography.
I found the 85mm focal length lens to be of great use in the stage presentations and in some backstage moments. Due to the manual focus system, it took me a while playing with it before getting consistent results. Once I got used to it, the special focusing mechanism was very fast to use. It was actually more comfortable and intuitive than regular focusing rings.
Other than that, the Petzval lens’ shiny brass material and unique design was a real eye-catcher and true conversation piece. Models were intrigued with the golden lens and other photographers wanted to “have a look” and were interested in the results.
The lens was a nice addition to my equipment selection, and the Petzval pictures are very easily distinguished from others by the special atmosphere and its unique, dreamy, swirly bokeh.
Which shows did you shoot?
I attended around 10 shows in the Fashion Week events and was using the Petzval lens mainly backstage in the designer’s shows of Anne Gorke and Use Unused.
In your opinion what makes the perfect (fashion) portrait?
Generally speaking, it’s hard to write down a checklist or recipe for the perfect portrait. Of course, there are always the technical aspects, the composition and lighting, attention to focus, and such. In reality, though, I think that the most important thing is to convey a character, emotion, and a situation in your photo. It can be grainy, out of focus, and weird, but capture the moment perfectly.
In fashion there’s a higher focus on aesthetics, textures, and color, and technical aspects become more important. The secret is to find the balance which will keep a viewer interested, to keep them staring or coming back for more. You want to get a person to think, feel, and absorb your photo slowly.
If you could photograph anyone in any place with the Petzval, who would you choose?
I’ve always been infatuated with Kate Moss. She’s so versatile and engaging. She can look very different between shots and project different emotions. I am always drawn into her photos. There’s this quality about her that holds you staring. I have bought the Kate Moss book a couple of years ago and I keep coming back to be amazed by how timeless and interesting she is.
There are lots of interesting characters I would love to have had a chance to shoot. People like Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Clint Eastwood, and others, but I’d also love to go back in time and shoot icons like Frida Kahlo and Audrey Hepburn.
On a more personal note, one person who had profound meaning in my life was my grandmother. I wish she was here today and I could sit her down and capture her deep, sensitive, curious soul in a portrait.
Do you have any advice to current or future Petzval users for shooting with the lens?
I think that the key to using this lens is playfulness and experimentation. The Petzval is a true “lomo” lens, meaning that it has its own character. Anyone who tries using it should not expect the lens to always do what they want, and when the lens plays with you, you need to play back.
My advice would be to experiment with different textures for the background. The bokeh that this lens gives is amazing and different textures will give really different atmosphere to your shots. Using the artistic apertures will also enhance this a lot.
Experiment with different compositions. With the Petzval, focus behaves very differently when the object is in the middle of the frame where everything is sharp, or closer to the edges where things become interesting. Different framing will give more than just a different composition.
Experiment with lighting. Unfortunately, I did not have a lot to choose from when I was shooting backstage. I had to work with what I had. If I could choose, I’d love to use the lens in different conditions where I had much more light or contrast. You will need to try different things to see what works best for you.
Thanks for the interview!