German photographer Michael Philipp Bader found the perfect location in Denmark for his ‘Run the Dune’ photo series. He chose models Iréne Amuquandoh and Suri North very specifically because of their contrasting skin types. The outcome was an interesting mix of sports, fashion and portrait photography shot with the Leica S.
You are a qualified designer. How is it that you now work as a photographer, and has your training in design influenced your approach?
I got my design diploma in Dortmund, with an emphasis on photography. The conceptual work that our professors and teachers demanded from us during our studies, is something I now integrate into my photographic work.
You are very involved with the subject of sports. Why this preference for sport-related themes? Are there other subjects you are interested in?
It was through sports that I actually came to photography. When I was young, I was already photographing football fans and the atmosphere in stadiums all over Europe. During my studies, I created complex stage settings for fashion photo spreads. After finishing my studies, I rediscovered my interest in sports photography. The photographic eye acquired from pure fashion photography now helps me to stage new and different moments in sports photography. However, I am not only fixed on sport photography; I also work as a portrait photographer.
The Run the Dune series was photographed in the dunes in Denmark. Do you prepare a concept in advance for this kind of thing, or do you let spontaneous circumstances guide you?
The preparation for a free series is very important for me. The interaction with the location and connecting with the models, or sports people, I consider particularly important. With this in mind, I often work together with stage designers, graphic designers and illustrators. The exchanges that take place during the preparation are very inspiring. However, chance also plays an interesting role during a photo production. This often results in moments that can be a lot more exciting; this is precisely the interesting thing about photography.
Run the Dune has a recognizable color tonality. How do you use color?
With each series I take a completely new approach to the colors. This means that a different color concept arises for each new series.
What criteria did you use to choose the models for the S Magazine series?
In this case I wanted there to be a contrast between the models. That’s why I opted for two different skin types.
Apart from commercial photography, where else are you photographically involved? What do you prefer to photograph?
Ever since back when I was studying, I have discovered a love for my viewfinder camera and for original Polaroid material. I often like to use this equipment for certain portrait series. It is a very static and slow way of working, which, through the expired Polaroid material, leads to surprising results.
Are there photographic influences that are reflected in your work? Are there photographers who have had a particular impact on you?
Older generation photographic artists such as Paolo Reversi or Sarah Moon are a great source of inspiration. Their timeless, artistic photography allows their pictures to appear like paintings from an undefined time. Theatre and dance are also always sources of inspiration to me.
What features does your favorite kind of camera need to have?
Apart from its technical possibilities, I need to have fun with the camera. It must built in an uncomplicated and good way.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? Do you have a project that you’re particularly keen to realize? What direction would you like to develop in?
At the moment I’m working on an Olympic project with Olympic athletes, that I’d like to exhibit next year.
You can see more of Michael’s excellent sports photography at his website.