Growing up, Fred Stichnoth was always drawn to adventure movies set in tropical locations. “I love ancient themes, from Egypt to Indonesia. I’ve spent a long time travelling around the world, being drawn to what is considered taboo,” he says. So, it was a dream come true when he located from his native Germany to the Indonesian Island of Bali. From here he has been able to explore some of the remotest areas in the East Indies and the tribes that call these places home. A home that is fast disappearing, along with their customs, legends, ceremony and regalia.
When the world is at your feet, turning your back on it is a big call. But most of us are not Fred Stichnoth. The German-born, Bali-based photographer relinquished life as a celebrity and fashion photographer in the late nineties, where he was poised for popularity, in order to decamp to the East Indies and collect shells. It’s a move that has yielded a distinctive body of work. Stichnoth’s portraiture bears the hallmarks of his haute couture pedigree, applied to natural and exotic subjects.
Stichnoth’s portraiture studies the beauty of women and ethnic culture using a unique combination borne out of necessity and unconscious influence. He employs an old fashioned technique whereby a backdrop is used to separate the subject from their surroundings. This juxtaposition is striking when the subject is so obviously separated from their natural environment. He also uses motifs and poses that echo the stylised productions in fashion magazines. The final picture comes together like an ethereal sculpture, caught on photographic paper.
"The most important thing in my life is creativity. To have an idea, to work on it, to make it happen. Enthusiasm. To do good work is my philosophy. To inspire others, to do something positive, to create a new awareness. Something that stays. I think my East Indies photography does this." - read our interview with Fred Stichnoth in The Crazy Mind magazine.