Friday, June 15, 2007
Stan Musilek - Mixing It Up
Taking advantage of the latest digital capture and postproduction tools keeps Stan Musilek's work fresh and evocative
If you've always dreamed of being a professional photographer, you could do worse than dreaming you'd become Stan Musilek.
Do you wish you shot high-fashion advertising full of glamorous models? Great. Stan does that.
Want to photograph perfectly formed still-life gems? No problem. Stan can.
How would you like to completely master studio lighting, develop your own highly refined and ever-evolving visual style, pick your clients and assignments, work comfortably in exciting locations and in your 10,000-square-foot, two-story converted factory studio in San Francisco, where you spend eight months of the year when you're not living and working in Paris? You wish you were Stan Musilek.
It's no mystery how Musilek achieved such photographic success. He's a methodical perfectionist who studies his craft intently. Early in his career, he cultivated a reputation as a meticulous still-life photographer, until, one day, an adventurous art director gave him a shot at shooting fashion. A decade later, he's choosing people and product assignments as he sees fit, and it's all a result of his master plan.
“There's a definite planned element of eclectic work,” Musilek says. “It's really important to me that there be a mix of various segments of photography, mainly based on the idea that if I do something for too long, I get bored and fall into a kind of automated execution. There's a conscious effort after having a one-week still-life shoot to make sure that the next job I take involves people. When I get bored with the still-life stuff—I'm basically locked in a cave for a week in the darkness—and because I find myself in the lucky position that I can pretty much pick and choose what kind of project I want to get involved with, the next job involves people with a big crew and stylists and hair and makeup and all this stuff. And that gets old after a week, with too many egos, too much commotion, and then I just go back. Automating this kind of pacing is why the stuff looks the way it looks: a collection of different things.”
Musilek's visual style is deliberately contemporary. His portfolio has the energetic feel of a young, hip photographic savant, mixing cutting-edge fashion and design with an old master's skilled hand in lighting and composition. His precision shows in every image, no matter the subject, yet he works to keep his technical proficiency from getting in the way of crafting simply beautiful images.
“It doesn't matter much what we're going to be shooting,” he says. “I feel like I can imprint a certain style on it. Inevitably, you bring some of the flexibility that's imposed on you when you're photographing people back to still life, as well as a certain discipline of how to light back to the fashion world. I come from a technical background; the craft of photography was always intriguing to me. It's also important to make that skill go away, so it doesn't seem like ‘Oh, my God! How did they do this?' It needs to go away so we stay focused on the image. My visual language is a fusion of what's going on in industrial design, architecture, graphic design and fashion. It's an ever-evolving thing. The style isn't a shtick for producing images. It's really important that the freshness stays.”