Boudoir Photographer Elfi Rasser
Elfi Rasser was born in 1962 in Styria, Austria, she has two daughters and has had various roles during her life: as an secretary in a hospital in St.Gallen, changing to the Information Technology (IT). First in the internal IT division in the same Hospital, then an insurance company close to Zurich and ended up in a Bank in the centre of Zurich. She completed various business education courses and studied Quality Management at the Schweizerische Institut für Betriebsökonimie in Zurich.
In 2000 she pushed further her passion for photography at a Master class in Zurich and soon started her Photography Business in 2015 as a wedding & Portrait Photographer.
Since 2017 she loves to photograph women and show them how to admire their beauty. She says “each women deserves a beautiful picture of her – no matter which body shape they have”. And this basic principle she have been following ever since.
1. Tell us why you decided to become an artist?
I’m an Austrian girl, and grew up in the east part of Styria close to the gorgeous city Graz. When I moved to Vorarlberg I was a single mum of two little girls (5 and 3 at this time) and I had to earn money to keep our little family alive. Soon I got a job in Switzerland in an office of a hospital. My passion photography had no place in this life due to the lack of money.
When my kids grew up and moved out of our home, I got a job in Zurich. With my first money I bought my first DSLR-Camera. I had to learn it from scratch as I was used to capture analogue photos. At this time it was still a hobby, but the new technology and the work with software to edit photos fascinated me. Soon I was asked by friends to capture pictures of them and within a short time I captured my first wedding photos.
This was 5 years ago and my ability and creativity grew after every picture I took. So I can say I did not decide to be an artist. I would rather say, I have become creative. And to take photos is a way to express myself. To edit photos is so fascinating. To see how a raw file becomes the picture I want to have. To reflect the person I captured in a way I had seen this person.
To show the beauty of that person, this is my goal. I believe each person deserves to get the best and beautifulest picture of them.
2. What kind of artist do you consider yourself?
Photography is a service. So I am more a service provider than an artist. Yes, I make the best out of a picture and incorporate my personal creativity in the process of editing.
But let’s face it. Rembrandt did the same hundreds of years ago. He got a mandate to draw pictures of people. Most famous people could afford his service. And he was extraordinary good in his craft.
I would never compare myself to the skills of Rembrandt but I try to get better and better at each picture I create.
3. Do you have any mentors or advisors?
Not at the beginning. I took long term trainings first. But a few years ago I got introduced to Greg Gorman which is a celebrity photographer from LA. At that time I was at the beginning of my career and I was aware of my lack of knowledge.
As he reviewed my portfolio I got such an unexpected critic. He told me, that I have the eye and I took out the best of the person I captured. I was completely overwhelmed. A few weeks after his portfolio review I booked, together with a few other Swiss photographers (all women), a 5 day Workshop with Greg Gorman in his estate in Mendocino CA. He was the one who taught me how to capture shadows.
My second mentor is also a famous photographer from LA, and she has been my inspiration for a year. Her name is Sue Bryce and is the most gorgeous women photographer I know. From her, I learned how to get the best women’s pictures.
No matter which body type the women have. Sue showed me how I can capture each body in the best way.
4. How is your artistic process for creating work?
For example when I make portraits: First I try to talk to them in person. Face to face, per phone or via Skype. I try to figure out what she/he is expecting first. Then I tell them my concept with a complete make-over. That includes a styling with Hair & MakeUp, beautiful dresses and guidance in posing. In a very relaxed atmosphere, they will be pampered and in different studio setups the pictures will be created. I always tell the client to book a romantic date that evening, because they are looking gorgeous on this day.
I make the selection of the best pictures and edit them in my special way – you can say that is my artistic way to finish a photo.
After about 2 weeks the client selects the pictures. On a reveal wall I present up to 30 prints, which are bordered in a precious passepartout. They can decide how much they want to purchase. No need to take them all.
To each print the digital file is included. After purchasing, they can take the pictures home, which are wrapped in a beautiful, handcrafted box.
5. Name three visual artists you admire
I love art by nature. No matter if it’s architectural design, furniture design, paintings, sculptural design, fashion you name it. But as a photographer I have of course my favourite heroes.
First of all is Greg Gorman, the Master of Shadow and Light. He taught me so much in terms of craft and confidence. I really appreciate it.
Second is and will always be, Sue Bryce who taught me how to edit pictures like paintings from Rembrandt.
And third – and this is my absolute favourite – is Annie Leibowitz. She is the master of orchestration. Each portrait she made is a story. The items and surroundings she put their subject in has always something to do with the person she is portraying. I never saw anyone who could master this characteristic in that perfection.
Boudoir photographer Elfi Rasser
6. Have you overcome any challenges in your career?
Oh yes. You can be the best artist and best photographer in the world, if you are not able to present your work to the desired customer, you never can make a living out of your art.
This is the most challenging fact of my career as an artist, and many artists are struggling with the same issue. I often ask myself if that is the nature of the matter. Art and business do not really fit together – but it has to be. There is no other choice.
7. Has gallery representation always been your dream or working independently been more beneficial? Or both?
Representing my work in a gallery is not my main goal. I love it when my customers see their pictures. The smile in their face is priceless.
But I would really love to present ig portraits from interesting and different people in a gallery. Maybe one day?
To be independent is really desirable. But how much independence can be reached ?There are always limits restricting one.
8. Tell us one of the weirdest or funniest moments of your career
I guess, that was at the first wedding I shoot. It was in the middle of January and that Friday snowed the whole day. The wedding was on a small mountain and the venue was a old castle.
My fear was that it will be cloudy outside, which means very dark inside. But on Saturday the brighter sunny weather appears. So far so good. But it was cold, very cold, it was -10°C.
When it comes to the bridal shooting, the couple had to go outside for a few pictures. The rest of the guests joined later outside for the smaller group pictures. The couple were freezing!.So I decided that the guests should go back inside, open the windows (thank goodness were lots of them) and at each windows a few people put their head out. And this was the big group shoot with the couple standing in front of the castle!
9. What advice would you give to an emerging artist?
Search for cooperation. You do not have to do all by your own. Look for people who can take over work from you. That can be someone who create your homepage, your book keeping, your advertisement etc.
I made this mistake and did more or less all by myself. It takes so much time and energy. So look for cooperation especially in commercial matters. Then you are open for creativity and you can unfold your artistic side.
10. As you reflect, what has been the influencing factors in your art career?
Influencing factors are old oil paintings. Definitely. When you see how they saw the light and how they brought that light and shadows to the canvas is amazing.
This is often an influencing factor when I capture portraits. I try to see the light and with my craft I reflect it in my photos.
11. What are you currently working on?
Besides Boudoir Photography, I also capture portraits (for business and personal branding) and I am a wedding photographer.
My private project is taking pictures of faces. Old faces, young faces, interesting faces. All different kind of faces. Who knows, may this will be an exhibition.
Photos copyright by: Elfi Rasser