Txema Yeste is part of the group of Spanish photographers who have achieved international recognition but above all have managed to stay on top with his highly relevant work for Numéro France, Vogue Italia or Harper's Bazaar US, amongst others. With more than ten years of experience behind him and with a successful professional career in big cities like New York, Paris and London.
All images by Txema Yeste. Words by Andy Durán and Edwin S Freyer.
This is an interview extract. Find out the full version in the Spring Summer 2019 Issue 2
Get your copy here.
We would like to start from the very beginning, could you tell us more about who is Txema Yeste and how you started as a fashion photographer?
I started working as a photojournalist, after finishing my studies in Barcelona and Birmingham. At some point, Magnum Paris tried to hire me for a big project but finally I felt I needed a personal change. I wanted to be able to use all my colors, flashes and lights to develop imaginary worlds of my own.So it kind of felt natural to find a space with more freedom in terms of creativity, a place where I could develop the worlds I see in myself: the fantasies, the unexpected, and the surreal. That space ended up being the fashion language, which is somewhat the realm of fantasy.
What differences do you see in fashion photography since you started until today?
Nowadays you have to get through a lot of obstacles in order to avoid the product that you are shooting conditioning the shoot too much. It's always a dialogue between your idea and your idea fitting in the magazine or the clients, which is quite normal at the same time.Also, the change of paradigm that occurred in terms of how we see images nowadays means a great deal to all image creators, I think. I don't feel that comfortable with this fast way of consuming images, or whith the screen being the only medium where we interact with images. However, I take the challenge everyday; it's good to go through the traditional ways and rethink them.
Your colors are a signature in your work, they have such an important presence in it. What does the use of colors mean to you?
To me colors are inevitable; of course I shoot in black and white sometimes as well, it always depends on what you feel about the photograph, the setting, the model, everything. Sometimes a photo can be better understood in black and white. However, I do have a tendency for the impact, the epic and also for a strong solid beauty that is better explained in harsh colors.
How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?
I think I have a particular approach to fantasy. I like to create a strong atmosphere, a kind of separate of reality that, at the same time, has a very sense of truth. I like presence, gaze, and creating characters, not just poses that enhance the final product. What really speaks to the public is a story. I'd also say I have a special taste for powerful, striking images that you won't forget for a while, I hope.
Be true to your unique vision
True to what you feel
Make photos with that state of spirit
Did you work in any other artistic disciplines apart from photography? Is there something else that you have an interest in?
I love the art of crafts, but currently I am more an observer, a collector. I'm the editor of Dream Magazine along with my wife, Cristina Ramos. It's a magazine about objects and materials. Publishing this magazine is kind of a discipline itself. We both love these arts, which are at the same time are very present on our daily lives.
I am originally from the Canary Islands so that work you did with the 'Trajes Populares' it just a great thing to see. What is the connection you have with the islands and where did this idea came from?
I am very glad you liked it. It's a very much-loved project. I've been a lot in the Canary Islands, usually for work because it is a very versatile place where I find myself easily flowing with creativity and improvisation. Of course, it's something about the weather as well. So I was very clear that I wanted to start there and we met an anthropologist, Juan de la Cruz, who is now advising us in each region we go. The last one was Castilla y León, which will be published in the next issue of Dream Magazine very soon.
Do you have any photographer or artist that especially made a big impact on your work?
Post-war Japanese photographers, undoubtedly. I recently gave a lecture in a photographers gallery in Barcelona about Saul Leiter, who came to light not so many years ago, but we have to admit he changed something in every photographer's mind.
Which were the key points that never can be forgotten that have lead you to where are right now?
Non-stop working, determination and perfectionism.
What would you change if you look back and start over again?
Taking things sometimes more patiently.
What pieces of advice could you give to other fashion photographers to help them to achieve what you already did?
There's no formula. I'd say, be true to your unique vision, be true to what you feel. Make photos with that state of spirit.
Read Txema's interview in the Spring Summer 2019 Issue 4. Get your copy here.