We met Nico Stinghe in the summer when he got in touch and came along to our indieberlin picnic (ah summer). A thoroughly nice man with an impressive moustache, I still had no idea who he was or why he was there – having invited loads of people – and so could only have a vague kind of conversation with him on the day. So I went home and googled him and woh! Found out that he’s an experienced, well-travelled and frankly brilliant fashion and art photographer who’s well established in the industry, with an amazing eye and a unique way of approaching things.
It’s good to be in Berlin and around all the creative people that have time too.
Sadly enough you run into people whose ego is ten times the size of their talent often enough, so to meet someone who was the reverse was – and remains – an absolute pleasure. And hey, a serious moustache to match. Having moved from his native Hungary he has lived and worked in Canada, NY, London and has now opened a studio in Berlin Kreuzberg, Another Sidewalk TV.
We put some questions to Nico and this is what came out:
indieberlin: You’ve worked professionally as a photographer in London, Canada and now in Berlin. What would you say are the biggest differences between here and those other places?
Nico Stinghe: I liked the people of NYC – when they see “new blood” they get curious and start to create links to local people. Europe is more into a hierarchy and old comfort. It’s good to be in Berlin and around all the creative people that have time too.
I recently asked an agency for a model with a more “ arty look “ and I felt bad afterwards.
indieberlin: How do you find your inspiration – do you approach a project with a pre-formed or half-formed idea in mind and try and make that happen, or do you react spontaneously to the situation and model you’re working with?
Nico Stinghe: Best would be the go-see’s i do at the studio, the agency propose models to me. Sometimes I don’t even mind who the models are and let things go, then when they come we start building a quick universe. Recently it’s more simple, walk around and so on. When you work with a team and they start to have preferences in ideas and places or how things should be it’s interesting to observe. I recently asked an agency for a model with a more “ arty look “ and I felt bad afterwards.
I stopped dreaming when I moved back to Europe.
indieberlin: Do you dream in colour or black and white?
Nico Stinghe: I stopped dreaming when I moved back to Europe.
indieberlin: Why do you take photographs? What drives you?
Nico Stinghe: I feel that all I produce I already did. Yes, it’s with different faces in every image, but the approach is the same. I’m trying new things at the studio and they made me become more a studio keeper now, but I look at a lot of people, how they do things, what they think of what they do. I was taking photographs to meet people and discover places I think that was what was driving me the most. I feel it has changed now, something has ended, everyday
I think of printing and filming, animate prints in video.
I think we will continue regressing
indieberlin: What do you see happening in photography/fashion photography in the next year or two? More of the same? Or do you see bold new ideas, perspectives or methods being attempted?
Nico Stinghe: I think we will continue regressing, yes. And repressing too. I really don’t know. It all happened when it was invented, we’re not only commercializing what we find, adapting it a bit, personalizing it a bit and calling it a style . It’s always between a decorative or conceptual abstract series.
For fashion photography I think it’s constantly a dialogue with the lifestyle of people watching it, and one influences the other. I very rarely – or never – met a stylist that had an interesting, unique voice. A stylist is that person generally with a commercial interest that makes the link from the industry to the person wearing it. It’s art schools that come with interesting ideas, but never a stylist, so this is a very big handicap for the fashion industry: their spokespersons are deaf. They mostly see colour and pattern matching.
indieberlin: Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Nico Stinghe: I don’t know. Sometimes I think South America.
It was really dark and I would feel the war still. I think it was making me calm so I kept on coming back.
indieberlin: Why did you come to Berlin? What drew you here?
Nico Stinghe: I went to London actually and hated it. It was 10 years ago and I felt arriving into a cheap copy of NYC, so I booked a ticket for Berlin. It was really dark and I would feel the war still. I think it was making me calm so I kept on coming back.
indieberlin: How do you find the creative scene here? And the lifestyle? Both positive and negative?
Nico Stinghe: A lot of interesting people. Some are very easy going and reliable, some not.
indieberlin: Where can people see your photographs?
Nico Stinghe: On my website www.nicostinghe.co.uk
I organize an art show almost weekly so maybe soon one for me too.
indieberlin: Any exhibitions coming up?
Nico Stinghe: Maybe at the studio, I organize an art show almost weekly so maybe soon one for me too.
indieberlin: Nico Stinghe, thanks for talking to us!
Nico Stinghe: Thank you as well!
Interview by Noel Maurice
The pictures are by Nico Stinghe of the entryway to his studio Another Sidewalk TV, which display a collection of his works.
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.