Meet the Artist: Kourosh Sotoodeh

Meet the Artist: Kourosh Sotoodeh

Kourosh Sotoodeh had to leave his home country to pursue his photography passion. The road has not always been easy but the journey took him far and is still ongoing!

Originally from Iran, Kourosh studied Industrial Design and Cinema before focusing on photography. He fell in love with the medium while photographing his friends and family. From there he started experimenting and building his portfolio, although his work was limited by the fundamentalist laws ruling over Iranians’ lives.

Kourosh eventually left his home country when it became clear he would never be able to work as a photographer and express himself as an artist in the Islamic Republic. Although there might not have been laws forbidding fashion photography per se, taking photographs of people (and of people of the opposite sex) falls in a grey area and is left to subjective interpretations.

There have been crackdowns on the Iranian creative class over the years. What is permitted one day is not the next day, the rules are unspoken and ever-changing – an impossible situation for any artist to live and function in!

Female model looks a us as she's standing against a wall

Since then Kourosh has made a name for himself in New York and Los Angeles, where he works on both editorial & commercial assignments for fashion and cosmetic clients.

Being a foreigner in the US myself (I’m originally from Paris), I know firsthand how difficult emigrating can be. You are confronted with a new language, culture, and social code. You’re the new kid on the block, with no support or friends. Everything needs to be built from scratch – it’s no easy feat.

Succeeding then is a testament to your talent and hard work (and just enough luck to make it all work!).

Woman dressed in Indigenous dress, standing on a rock in a desert
Woman drapped in a long red fabric, standing in a desert

The images presented here span genres and styles – from hyper glamourous beauty shots to views of a starry sky. They come from both editorial shoots and personal work. I like the mix it creates.

I’ve always been a firm believer that it’s important for photographers to work on personal projects throughout their careers. If you’re only shooting for jobs (even editorial ones), you’re never free – there are always expectations and requests you need to worry about.

Personal projects allow you to truly express yourself. Which can be daunting for some. It’s equivalent to the fear of the white page for a writer!

I titled Kourosh’s exhibit “Moments” as the images presented here are a mix of past and present works, editorial images and personal projects. Aren’t all photographs moments after all?

See Kourosh Sotoodeh’s exhibit here.

Female fashion model seen in profile, dressed in a tight black leather top and shorts
Close-up of a woman's mouth with red lipstick, holding a precious gem between her teeth

Photographers I Love: Jeanloup Sieff

Photographers I Love: Jeanloup Sieff

I had the incredible opportunity to pose for Sieff… but then never followed up to ask him for a print! I could kick myself!

I was working at BBDO, an ad agency in Paris, as an assistant art buyer (as we were called then) when his agent came to show us some books.

She thought I looked great, took a quick polaroid of me, and next thing I knew, I was meeting the great man himself!

He was looking for nude models for a new book. I was then beyond shy and so ill at ease in my own skin that the idea freaked me out to no end.

But I did it, mostly to prove to myself that I could do it, and also because it was Jeanloup Sieff — the man was a legend in France! How could I say no?

Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, naked, sitting on leather pouches on the floor

He was nice and attentive, professional and patient. The shoot took place in his loft. I remember it was during summer and Paris was quiet.

A few weeks later, Sieff invited me back to see the contact sheet and choose an image for a print, but we kept on missing each other. I got busy getting ready to move to New York; I got scared and shy again… and I never went and never got my print!

When he passed away, that door closed forever… I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life but that’s definitely one of them!

Torso of a woman wearing a tight corset
Woman wearing high heels laying down on a bed

Born in 1933 in Paris, Sieff first dreamed of cinema before switching to photography. He started his career as a photo-reporter working for Elle and Magnum. Although his reportages got his recognition, he eventually moved to fashion and portrait work.

While living in New York in the early 1960s, Sieff shot for Look, Glamour and Esquire, among others. When he came back to Paris, his dramatic and sensuous black and white style was fully defined, and he went on to create striking images of the who’s who of that time.

His use of dramatic lighting and darkroom printing techniques, like dodging, make his photographs immediately recognizable. From portraits to nudes to landscapes, all his images share the same strong compositional sense and tactile quality.

I could kick myself for not following up and missing the opportunity to have a print of his!

Nade woman laying on a couch

© Jeanloup Sieff

Disclaimer: Aurelie’s Gallery does not represent Jeanloup Sieff, nor claims to do so. My “Photographers I love” series is purely for inspiration and to encourage discussion.

Photographers I Love: Sarah Moon

Photographers I Love: Sarah Moon

I thought it would be fun to write a series about some of my favorite photographers. I am starting with the one who introduced me to photography in the first place: Sarah Moon.

 

 

In the 70s my mom worked in an ad agency in Paris that handled Cacharel, a fashion line. Sarah Moon shot their campaigns in her dreamy, ethereal style. My childhood bedroom was covered with Cacharel posters. When researching images for this post, I found some ads I distinctly remember having on my wall… and I’m pretty sure the posters are still somewhere at my parents’!

Woman in profile

Since these early days, I have loved Sarah Moon’s work. I love the tactile quality of her images, her sense of color, the romanticism of her women, and the quietness of the world she creates. Most of her work is on film, sometimes on polaroid, which only adds depth and layers to her images. Although nostalgia and the loss of a bygone era infuse her work, I feel her images transcend time. Her women may be long gone, but their beauty and mystery endure…

“I create situations that do not exist, I seek the truth from fiction.” Sarah Moon

Woman wearing a black dress and hat, standing against a muted yellow background
Woman wearing a black dress and hat, standing against a green background

Sarah Moon was born in France in 1941 but grew up in England. There she became a model and changed her name to Sarah Moon. It didn’t take long for her to decide she preferred being behind the camera, and she became a photographer. She eventually crossed back the Channel to live in Paris where she worked for the biggest names in fashion.

She even ventured into motion (I still remember the TV spot she did for Cacharel’s Loulou perfume in the late 80s) and did a couple of feature-length movies. I would be curious to find them — moving from single still images to building a narrative is often difficult for photographers who venture into motion.

But then again, Sarah Moon’s still work is often very cinematographic, full of ambiance and untold stories.

Surreal photograph of a woman sitting on a chair with tall wild grass around here

© Sarah Moon

Disclaimer: Aurelie’s Gallery does not represent Sarah Moon, nor claims to do so. My “Photographers I love” series is purely for inspiration and to encourage discussion.