[Female gaze] The photography rule-breaking fashion photographer discusses her career, aesthetic, and portraying women
Welcome to the 15th episode of the Dior Talks series ‘The Female Gaze’. With the term developed in response to the writings of feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, this podcast series will explore how the work of the female photographers and creatives collaborating with Dior offers a radically new and progressive image of women.
In this episode, series host Charlotte Jansen, a British journalist and author, talks to Julia Hetta, the acclaimed Swedish fashion photographer who has carved out a distinct position in the industry for her highly choreographed, minutely constructed images for editorial, advertising and portraiture. She takes much inspiration from Old Master paintings, particularly the Dutch still life tradition, and brings a beguiling process of finely balanced composition to a world so often preoccupied with fast appeal.
Julia Hetta was born in Uppsala in 1972 and studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam in the early 2000s. As a child she was fascinated by photography and the darkroom which her father had constructed in the basement. She painted and drew, but realised that photography enabled her to realise her ideas of light and shadow with more immediacy and she embraced the development of black and white images. Later she worked for a photographer’s agency but was not concerned with assisting photographers directly, preferring to define her craft through the inspirations of photojournalism. Since starting to work in the fashion world, she has shot for Vogue Italia, British Vogue, AnOther Magazine, W Magazine, L’Uomo Vogue and Dazed & Confused, among many others, and has done campaigns for major labels. She has photographed myriad celebrities, most particularly prominent women, and was also commissioned to take birthday portraits of Queen Silvia of Sweden in 2013. In 2014, her work was included in the exhibition Stop Now: Fashion Photography Next, at Foam Museum in Amsterdam.
Here, Charlotte Jansen and Julia Hetta discuss her route to fashion photography and the inspirations she has drawn on in her dedicated study of chiaroscuro and the interplay of darkness and luminosity. She describes working around her innate shyness to form her craft, from her early pictures of her brother to her current work for industry majors. Their conversation veers from the simplicity of Swedish visuals to the writings of Toni Morrison, as they deconstruct Hetta’s complex yet crystalline approach to the representation of women in photography. Finally, Hetta describes her experience shooting the Spring-Summer 2018 haute couture collection for Dior Magazine, and the brave decision of Maria Grazia Chiuri, the Creative Director of Women’s collections, to only collaborate with women.