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Peter Richweisz

He is the founder of Desert Fish magazine, he’s known for his extravagant photography here and worldwide, his latest brainchild is a concept store in Dubai, The cARTel- Peter is an artist with a mind

He is the founder of Desert Fish magazine, he’s known for his extravagant photography here and worldwide, his latest brainchild is a concept store in Dubai, The cARTel- Peter is an artist with a mind of a business man. We have sat down with this extravagant character to find out what makes his world go round.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
After my university studies I moved to London to spend exciting eight years there, I came to Dubai kind of accidentally in 2003 and since then I never went back.

In 2004 I have set up a studio in Dubai and in 2005 with Shub Qureshi, we started Desert Fish Magazine. When I thought my life was not busy enough with the overload of commercial photoshoots and the magazine, I founded The cARTel – a concept retail space in Al Sarkal Avenue, Dubai. I had the idea for a long time to create a platform for emerging designers to set their foot into the Middle Eastern market and give the customers a diverse choice of designs to challenge the mainstream brands and retail routines. Desert Fish magazine was a substantial pillar for this venture and 2012 seemed to be the year when I found the right partners, May Barber and Shub Qureshi to start the long-planned journey.

Besides photography I also direct motion pictures. One of my fashion films won The Best Style award in Hollywood’s International Film Festival in 2014. It was a pretty inspiring moment and it was the first film achieving such a result from the whole MENA region.

The cARTel seems to be a unique concept, what makes it different from other retail stores?
We have 60 designers from five continents in our portfolio; we are specialised in unique stand-alone pieces and if you shop at The cARTel you can be assured the chances of someone wearing the same outfit in Dubai is practically zero to none. We cater for the style-conscious customers who have the confidence to move away from the comfort zone of mainstream labels. Our merchandising is very forward thinking, avant-garde and edgy while staying within the margin of being wearable.

Besides that, we provide a relaxed, personalised shopping experience, we have a creative space which provides a platform to various events: from exhibitions, performances, to industry gatherings. At first, we represented emerging designers exclusively, today we have a balance of wide selection of young talents and established industry names, like Iris Van Herpen, Gareth Pugh, Hussein Chalayan- just to mention a few.

What was that moment which captured your passion for photography?
When I was at around the age of 12, someone gave me an enlarger so I learned the basics of the labtechhiques which I mastered about ten years later. When I was at the age of 18, someone else gave me a Canon SLR camera on a loan for a few months and from that moment there was no excuse not to use it. I experimented as much as I could and learned everything by myself. In addition to my Neo-Dadaist art ambitions and university studies I started to do model portfolios. I always took it as a light-weight and cheesy way of applying my creativity and I would have not thought at that point it would become my life-long engagement with fashion and photography. To start as a professional, I had to move to London where my philosophy studies wouldn’t have taken me too far, so the only choice I had was to make a decent living from my photography. Even now, many years later I enjoy every minute of it.

Hair Accessories: Dario Scapitta Jacket: Reemami Trousers: Rad Hourani Shoes: Jail Jeans

Hair Accessories: Dario Scapitta
Jacket: Reemami
Trousers: Rad Hourani
Shoes: Jail Jeans

How did you get involved with the type of photography you are doing now?
I always had a great interest in art house cinema, contemporary art and, of course, some classics. When I started to work commercially I adopted these inspirations to my visual language. This is a never-expiring base for my creativity. Most of my shoots are in a stylised fashion context, and that gives me the freedom to use artistic strategies and aesthetics.

What is the influence of digital technology on your photography?
It gives you instant feedback and assurance when you have the shot you planned. What I find the most exciting these days is how the digital cinema is merging with still photography.

First there was the resolution war, now we’ve reached to the pixel count level, which exceeds human perception by a huge margin. The camera makers are now developing and competing with dynamic ranges and sensor sensitivity in order to convince consumers to invest into a set of new gear. These progresses and the digital cinema revolution promise us some inspiring tools to explore.

How important is it for a photographer to “connect” with his or her subjects to bring out their true self?
It depends, some shoots are more model-centred than the others. I had to shoot when models had to lay down all day with eyes closed; or I had one when they needed to look super glamorous hanging on a harness from a ceiling; or jump out from an airplane and pose on landing for the camera. A lot of time I create narrative roles for the models and then the connection and understanding of the roles are crucial. I can rate the model’s capacity after a few minutes of working together and adopt the communication according to that.

What advice do you have for the folks who want to get into photography but can’t afford equipment?
It has never been easier then before. Back in the days when I started, we shot on films. At the very beginning I had limitations of the expenses and the number of rolls to use, let’s say 4-5 rolls of medium format film gave you about 40-50 images to choose from and there were always plenty of good ones. These days we shoot on digital hundreds of images per job, we are fixing imperfections in postproduction, but I am not sure if the results are obviously better for the one-time viewer. What still matters most is the story, the subject, the message and the composition. These don’t depend on the tools you use. Thanks to technology there was a revolutional development on the PROsumer market, so with a few thousand dollar setup you can get your desired result.

Photographer: Peter Richweisz
Fashion Stylist: Angela Papadopoulos-Fortune
Make-up & Hair: Monique Lagnerius for Carita
Model: Kato @The AgenC
Location: Al Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz
Special Thanks to The cARTel

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