German photographer Simon Bolz has been creating stunning nude portraits of beautiful women for almost 10 years. Having been published in magazines such as Playboy, GQ Germany, Photographie, Men’s Health and Women’s Health, Simon has now self-published his first coffee table book called Frisky. This huge 208 page limited edition book features 28 beautiful women captured in stunning locations across Europe. We spoke with Simon about his work and how Frisky came about.
You have been shooting nudes for almost 10 years now. What drew you to photography and in particular nude photography?
Simon: At university (Academy of Visual Arts, Frankfurt) my photography teacher said that I was highly talented when he saw a portrait of a goose that I had taken in a park. I didn’t really take him seriously because I was just photographing with the camera in automatic mode. But somehow, this challenged me to learn how to photograph.
For my graduate thesis, I did a project where I portrayed 56 random people in New York City. I worked very close with strangers and discovered my fascination for people. Soon, I felt the urge to overcome this small distance and tease out more intimacy in my photographs.
For some people the difference between gratuitous nudity and beautiful, sensual nudes such as yours can be mistaken. In your own words how would you describe your art?
Simon: I neither want to be a missionary nor shock anybody. We live in more prude times nowadays and censorship is widespread. This bugs me, as I simply want to entertain my audience. Life is already serious enough, so my photographs are simple and have no deeper meaning as to simply please the viewer.
The female form is obviously a huge focus of your work. What does the female body mean to you and how to you try to represent that in your work?
Simon: My photographs are not just about bodies, they are more like nude portraits. I never objectify women and always try to showcase a human being in my series. In my images I celebrate the beauty and appeal of women without crossing the line.
What do you think makes a truly memorable photo?
Simon: When you want to look at a photograph longer than usual, when it starts your inner cinema, I’d call it a truly memorable picture.
Can you explain a bit of the process behind your shoots?
Simon: Most of my work is the planning of a shooting. I need to find suitable locations, get permits, look for models who are willing to pose for me and organise the travelling.
A lot of thinking goes into the shooting before I have taken my first photo. But on set, I want to act as spontaneously as possible and often things go differently than I have planned. Part of my process is to find a balance between distinct ideas and the personality of the model.
What’s the craziest/funniest thing that ever happened in one of your shoots?
Simon: When I was in Ibiza I photographed a model on a remote beach. It was a Sunday morning, we were half an hour by foot away from the parking lot and there was no one else around. Suddenly I saw a reflection of an old man behind me in the display of my camera. He was completely naked and his penis was stiff. It was so awkward and ridiculous that both my model and I just had to laugh.
You’ve just released your first book ‘Frisky’ which you’ve described as a “monument to female beauty and appeal”. Can you tell us a bit about this project, how it came about and how it was made?
Simon: My work get published in magazines regularly. But magazines are sometimes thrown away after a couple of weeks. So, I figured, I wanted to create something that lasts. I gave it some thought and the idea of creating a book was born.
I soon realised that it had to be different than just printing out my portfolio. Therefore I planned many, many trips to photograph 28 beautiful girls in different locations throughout Europe. At first, I photographed only indoors but then I felt I needed a nice mix with outdoor pictures and so I shot in the nature of Ibiza and Fuerteventura several times as well.
I had taken over 18,000 images. I chose the best 500 photos on my computer, printed them out in letter size and then covered our whole apartment with images to chose the best ones and to determine the order. This process took me several weeks until I had the perfect flow. I wanted to let my viewers room to breathe and yet surprise them with every page.
The book was printed locally in Frankfurt and I was there the whole time. That was very exciting! In the end, I had five palettes full of books. The positive feedback that I received by the people who bought my book, makes me very happy. I don’t take this for granted and it is a big motivation to continue my work. I sell the book through my website and shipping is available worldwide.
I understand an Australian designer created the Frisky logo for you. Can you tell us how this came about and what is the meaning behind the title ‘Frisky’?
Simon: When putting all the images together for my book, I needed a title that matched the whole thing. I tried to describe my style in one word and luckily there’s the word “Frisky” for it. I have to explain its meaning to Germany buyers frequently, because we don’t have a suitable translation for it here. But “frisky” fits so well, it had to the name for my book. Although commonly used sexually (and this is not a mistake either), frisky can also imply a lifestyle. Someone who is frisky is apt to do anything, anywhere. Spontaneous and jolly in everything they do. This could have been the feeling I had when shooting, what the models thoughts were or what the viewer might feel like when browsing through my book. I’ll leave that open to everyone.
So, I came up with the title and was happy that no other book had the same name already. I also knew exactly that I wanted a hand-written typeface that matches the meaning but I was incapable to do it myself. Through Behance.net I found the great Australian designer Luke Lucas and hired him to design the logo. I was very happy and it is great that nowadays you can collaborate on a project with a person even though you have never met and live thousands of miles apart. Luke did a great job and I love the logo he created.
Making your own book with your own photography would be a dream for most photographers. What were some of the challenges involved throughout the process of Frisky?
Simon: Most challenging are the costs, of course. Printing a book, is a huge investment. It is possible to earn back the printing costs but not the photo productions with modelling fees and travelling costs. I personally wanted to invest this still as I am turned off by living in a world dominated by money. So I leaped over my own shadow, robbed my piggy bank and I have no regrets.
I encourage everyone to fulfil their dream. You only live once. And while many like the saying “Carpe Diem”, hardly anyone lives by it.
You also publish a nude calendar every year since 2009. Are there any other projects you would like to explore in the future?
Simon: Moving images fascinate me a lot, too. I would like to produce some nice and sensual clips in the future. It feels a bit like virgin soil to me as it definitely should be better than what I have filmed in the past. But I will never give up on nude photography. It is something new and fascinating, every time I shoot.
Finally, what advice would you give to young photographers looking to get into this type of field?
Simon: Hobbyist photographers usually buy a lot of gear before they begin to photograph. It was the same with me. I don’t use much of my equipment anymore. So my advice would be to gain experience by beginning to photograph rather than buying too much stuff.
Some people speak a lot about what they would like to do but then have so many excuses why they cannot do it. I would suggest to stop talking and give things a try. It will be worth it!
Simon Bolz (Frankfurt, Germany) / website / facebook
All photos by Simon Bolz from his book Frisky, order online here