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Artist of the Week – Christian Leitner

November 9, 2009 by · 15 comments

Mariana Velichkova’s interview with the fashion photographer Christian Leitner


How has photography become an important part of your life?

A benefit of working at a university is that you can travel a lot to places you would normally not visit as a tourist, so I started to take pictures wherever I went. But the real life changing moment was when I was invited by a friend who worked as a part-time model to take pictures at a fashion show she was attending. From the first moment I was enchanted by the atmosphere of the show. So I started shooting at fashion shows on a regular basis. Luckily there are a lot of possibilities for fashion photographers in Vienna.



You are an assistant professor for biotechnology as well as being a fashion photographer. Is there a connection between science and fashion?

There is! In both science and fashion it is mandatory that you know the basics. But to become outstanding you must be creative and think in ways no one thought before. Only then will you be able to design a dress in a way no one has ever done before or make a scientific breakthrough which was thought impossible before.



What’s the “beauty” of science?

In biochemistry you try to unravel the secrets of life itself. Can there be a more beautiful work?


What do you like the most in the world of fashion: the designers, the models, the shows or anything else?

The designers! My favourite moment during every show is at the end when the designer shyly comes out from behind the curtain, almost dragged by a model and overwhelmed by the applause of the audience. It is truly unfortunate that only a few of them can make a living with their art.



Do you follow the fashion trends?

As a fashion photographer it is an occupational hazard. But I carefully choose which trends to follow and which to ignore. After growing up in the 80´s I will never wear neon-colours again! Of course I do posses a few designer clothes that I treasure, most of which I got as trade-in for pictures.


Would you share something interesting about the fashion in your home city Vienna?

In recent years I have seen a growing interest in fashion in Vienna. There are a lot of young designers and new boutiques open especially in the 7th district and around the Museumsquartier. For instance five years ago the annual Hetzendorf (a school for fashion in Vienna) fashion show was performed in a small tent in the park of the school, this year it was held in the beautiful ceremonial room of the Vienna city hall. The fist Vienna Fashion Week this fall was well attended and is another sign for the growing public interest in fashion.



How would you define the term “fashion style”?

I think there is not one fashion style. Everyone should develop a style that expresses their feeling or attitude. Surely this is not possible on a daily basis but it should be done for special occasions at least. Fashion should be viewed as art and not as something that keeps you warm during winter times.



Are there places you would love to take pictures at but haven’t been to yet?

Of course there are! I would especially like to shoot during one of the big fashion weeks in Paris, London or Milan.


What special skills does a fashion photographer need to possess to take really good pictures?

Patience! Fashion shows never start on time and to get a good place for shooting you should be there rather early. The bright side is that you can use this time to talk to other photographers. And most of them like to talk about their work and can give you valuable advice. So it is also good to be a communicative person.



Who are your favorite models?

Those would be the models of the annual World Bodypainting Festival in Seeboden, Austria. Most of them are volunteers. The painting itself takes 5 hours, is performed outdoors in almost any weather – except for rain – and is attended and photographed by thousands of visitors.


Afterwards there is a big photo shoot with more than 200 photographers followed by a stage performance. And after all this most of the models stay painted for the whole night; posing, smiling and visibly enjoying themselves. I really admire their stamina!



What was the last fashion show you attended?

It was a show of three young Austrian designers at “Mon Ami”. Once a place for “dog and cat care”, it is now a café, boutique, and music shop where you can eat, drink and enjoy and buy music all whilst looking through the collections of 18 young Austrian designers. I enjoy the familiar ambiance of these small shows very much!

Thank you very much for your sharing and contribution!




Christian Leitner lives in Vienna, Austria, where he works as an assistant professor for biotechnology. One positive side effect of working at a university is that he travels a lot. It was only natural to start with photography. Six years ago he was asked by a friend to shoot pictures during a small fashion show she attended as a model.

From that moment on he was fascinated by the creativity of the designers and the atmosphere of the show. After that he started to photograph at fashion shows as an artistic counterbalance to his scientific life. Fortunately there is a very active scene of young talented designers emerging in Vienna and this has lead to a lot of small fashion shows and to the first Vienna fashion week this fall.


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