Interview with Art Director and Photographer Daniel Lathwesen

Courtesy of Daniel Lathwesen

VOOM had the privilege to interview Daniel Lathwesen, native German art director and photographer, on his last three short fashion films: Fashion Fruit, Reflections and The X Files – in collaboration with Bastian Kempf, director of photography. We also learned about his own story and personal aesthetic.

Hello Daniel, we would you to share your story: who you are and where are you from? 

Hi Sofia, nice to meet you. My name is Daniel Lathwesen. I was born in Essen, an industrial city in Germany, where I grew up, went to school and did my studies. 

How did you fall in love with your job?

It has been a while since I started working as a professional creative. I guess my first thoughts on creating own concepts for photographs instead of just taking snapshots with my camera arose at the very beginning of the millennium. I was in my early 20s in those days and started arranging my first photoshoots. Scouting appealing locations and looking for an ambitious team to realize my ideas became fascinating to me as well as my main focus. From then on, the further development continued: I got educated as an art buyer at a publishing house for two and a half years followed by a scholarship at the Academy of Fine Arts in my hometown. I was able to experiment with different media to find my artistic expression; including photography, film, painting and sculpturing. 

Describe your self in 3 words

Empathic, curious, sometimes a little childishly naive or playful

How does the city where you live – Berlin – influence your creative process?

Berlin is renowned for its vibrant cultural scene and is a city of art, artists and creatives. Even after 7 years of living in this city, I always discover new sides to it. Of course the competition is fierce as it is home to many exceptional people with incredibly creative minds. But the will to collaborate and also to create something creative has always been and is still strong in Berlin. This gives you the freedom to express yourself without getting jugged by others. 

How is coronavirus affecting your artistic work?

As an artist or a person working in a creative environment, you try to shape your emotions or view on current events while creating. With a dancer, it’s his/her movements, with a painter perhaps the colors he/she uses to express his/her mood. Apart from the general conditions for productions that had to change due to the virus, the topics have also changed a lot in my point view. 

Fashion Fruit, a short fashion film made in collaboration with Bastian Kempf, how would you define the project?

The production was a unique experience. At the beginning there was this location: an uncommon restaurant in the heart of the city. The shapes and colors of which are a tribute to the A Bigger Splash series by the painter David Hockney. We were a team of eight on set, most of whom had never seen each other before the day of shooting. I am always thrilled to be part of a creative process in which everyone finds their place and where all become a unit for the period of creation. 

And, why are collaborations so important in the fashion world? 

I actually can’t tell as I wouldn’t assign myself to this industry. But what I generally appreciate about collaboration is the fact that you keep learning something new and expanding your own knowledge. 

Who and what inspired your fashion and dance short movieReflections?

After completing the production of Fashion Fruit, I was looking for another way to narrate a fashion story. With the first Covid lock-down that started in Berlin, I suddenly had a lot of time to re-search for a poem or writing that I wanted to use as an inspiration for the new project. I found this lovely poem by Suzy Kassam, an American poet with Egyptian roots which really touched me. 

How did you create Reflections’personal aesthetic?

I wanted to work with a pair of twins for that project and we were able to win over Azza and Azama Bashir for the production. Both are trained in classical and modern dance. I think this decision was probably the most important one to create a successful connection between text and image. 

And, what is the purpose of this project? 

The film celebrates the empowerment of black women of the past and the future through the powerful movements of the dancers.

What’s the funniest thing that happened during the shooting? 

Oh, I really can not say, as it was fun most the time. 

How do you think the collaboration with Bastian Kempf will evolve and what are your future projects? 

We are currently working on the completion of a hybrid of an automotive and fashion film for the car manufacturer Porsche and its new electro vehicle. The shooting has already been completed in autumn last year. Since we work a lot with digital video effects in this project, we have expand- ed the team with a video FX professional. 

Tell us about your new project The X Files. What is it about and what prompted you to start it?

The X Files is a project we started filming in July 2020 in a small desert around 90 km far from Berlin. It actually is the only desert in Germany and it was caused a major forest free in 1942. Flora Miranda – an Austrian designer – provided us with two wonderful designs which I wanted to place in this barren landscape. The X Files is a short narrative about the power of solidarity, cohesion and love.

Who did you work with? And, how was the writing process? 

Like in the other productions we were talking about, I worked with Bastian Kempf as my Director of Photography. The designer was the already mentioned Flora Miranda.The main work and writing process happens during the post production this time. Martin Krupinski was responsible for the visual effects and editing of the film. He is based in Düsseldorf and we had to find out about the aesthetics and edit in long phone talk sand chats. Last but not least my partner was a big support by listening to my ideas and thoughts when needed.

When I saw the video, I felt a certain surreal nostalgia. Are you a nostalgic person? 

I like things and objects from the past. I like design- as well as photo – and film history. These were my favorite classes during my study time. I love watching portraits – and street photography of strangers from the past. I really can do this for hours. They help me understand the present in a way. I would say you might be right, I am a nostalgic person.

What’s next for you?

Let’s see what 2021 is going to offer.

Interview & article by Sofia Malatesta| @sofia_malatesta