Steve Diet Goedde has been a fine art photographer for 25 years. His subtle approach to photographing the high-gloss fetish world with a very non-gloss, down-to-earth aesthetic sets him apart from that genre’s more typical styles. (www.stevedietgoedde.com).
Titled Arrangements, the retrospective features never-before-seen images from Goedde’s recent and classic photoshoots, alongside a few iconic fan favorites - in fact, nearly 50% of these images are previously unpublished. The series is being launched via a Kickstarter campaign that has earned a Staff Pick from the fundraising site as one of the best projects currently on offer there.
For more information, please visit the project information page at www.SDG25.net, or check out the Kickstarter campaign at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/centuryguild/steve-diet-goedde-25-year-retrospective-volume-iii
The campaign - which runs through the month of February.
Angela Ryan is an international cover model and burlesque performer. She has collaborated with Steve Diet Goedde on several occasions and conducted this interview.
Angela Ryan: Why is photography important?
Steve Diet Goedde: The art of photography is more important than ever right now. We live in an age where photography is incorrectly perceived as an effortless art form that anyone can do thanks to iPhones and Instagram. Amongst the masses, 100+ years of photography appreciation is quickly eroding away because 'anyone can do it!'. People have to be educated that photography has been and will continue to be as aesthetically legitimate as other arts such as painting and sculpture, to name a few.
Angela Ryan: What does "fetish photography" mean to you?
Steve Diet Goedde: I don't really consider what I do as fetish photography. I mean, yes, there are usually some fetishistic elements in my work, but that's not what my work is about. The general aspects of art photography come first - light, composition, and tone. And then there's the emotional weight of the image - the lyrical content as depicted by the model. What she is wearing (or not wearing) is an important element in how she is portrayed. What she's wearing should have some sort of emotional relation to her external demeanor whether it's empowerment or simply erotic introspection. Basically, my work comes down to being fashion photography but from a psychological perspective. To me, the term 'fetish photography' refers to a photographer's documentation of what turns them on, whether it's done artistically or not. Since the fetishistic elements in my work are usually secondary to emotion and photographicaesthetics, I don't like labeling my work as such.
Angela Ryan: Is there something you always ask to yourself or think just before you push the button?
Steve Diet Goedde: Because I don't crop my photos, many variables must be considered before I take a photo. In that split second, I have to decide if the composition and lighting are up to my standards, are the posing and clothing details correct, but most importantly, is the emotional content in line with my aesthetic. What is the expression of the model and does it fit into the mood I'm going for? All those elements have to synchronize, otherwise I do not take the photo and will work with it until it's right or just move onto another idea.
Angela Ryan: What do you shoot with and why?
Steve Diet Goedde: I'm not a tech-oriented photographer so I could care less about the newest, most fancy camera on the market. It doesn't matter in terms of creating my art. It's the photographer who takes a great photo, not the camera. It all comes down to decisions - when to take a photo and what's in that photo. You can do that with any camera from the shittiest cellphone camera to the most expensive digital Hasselblad on the market. My main camera is my Mamiya 645 medium format camera - it's the camera that I've used from the beginning. It's the one that gave me my style in the early 1990s so I still use it as my base camera, and I'll always use it. I do like experimenting with low-tech cameras like Holgas and Polaroids - just to mix it up a bit. With color, I'm not that concerned about a consistent look because I'm not as committed to it as I am with my black and white. Most of my color work of the last ten years was shot with a (now old) Nikon D200 or my 35mm Canon A1 which I bought when I was 14.
Angela Ryan: Why black and white for one image? Why color for another?
Steve Diet Goedde: Basically it all has to do with light and color. My preference is black and white and it will always be my default style. However, some situations just demand color. For instance, when I have a model wearing a bright red dress in a predominantly luscious green environment, it's just too colorful not to shoot in color. Also, you have to consider how certain colors will show up as tones when captured with black and white film. This red/green combo I just mentioned, although great in color, would be very monotone in black and white. Strip the color out, and red and green can be near the same tone of grey, thus not a very tonally dynamic black and white photograph.
Angela Ryan: Have the cities you lived in played a role in the images you have created? Specifically the stark contrast between the the cold and bleak urban setting of Chicago where you started versus the radiance and golden warmth of Los Angeles where you currently reside?*
Steve Diet Goedde: Most definitely! When I first started taking photos in Chicago in the early1990s, I shot under many overcast skies which was perfect for the tonal range that I preferred. The sky often acted as one large softbox and because of that, a visual style quickly emerged. In addition to atmospheric conditions, environment played a big role too. I lived across the Chicago River from Goose Island which at the time was a mostly abandoned industrial area (now a hip retail/living environment), so I had unlimited access to that as my shooting ground. That, in addition to older Chicago architecture, provided me with incredibly visual backdrops. In 1998, I moved to Los Angeles where not only the environment and architecture were different, the light had a completely different quality. So I basically had to adapt to a whole new set of rules - something of which I found most welcome because I never want to stick with a certain style for too long. As an artist, I like to evolve and not settle with an assembly line method of producing art.
Angela Ryan: Can you tease us with what to expect in ARRANGEMENTS Volumes I & II?
Steve Diet Goedde: If you couldn't tell already, we're going backwards with this series, starting with 'Volume III'. For years, people have been asking for a new book from me. If we had released 'Volume I' first, it would've consisted of all the work they've already seen from *The Beauty of Fetish* years. Even though the volume will contain a LOT of unseen work from that era, it just seemed more exciting to release all the new work first. The second volume will consist of all the work I did immediately after *The Beauty of Fetish* years which was my most productive era. I shot so much quality work from that period (2000-2006) that I did end up securing a publisher for that work in 2007, but unfortunately that publisher went out of business in 2008, and of course the book was scrapped. So now I finally will have a platform to release a wonderful collection of work from that period in my career.