Roger Vekstein – Photographer
Roger is an independent photographer based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“When I was young my parents taught me to follow my dreams. That made me determined to do the things I love and that helped me become the person I am today. I live and enjoy the present.”
What’s your background? Where are you from?
Things I love are my background. I’ve always been surrounded by them. I tend to live in my mind looking for new things that would make me move in the future too. I live and enjoy the present focusing in where and how I want to live my future.
What or who is inspiring you right now?
Miles Aldridge (with his wonderful color), Tim Walker (with his scenery and characters), Brian Oldham (my all time favorite mind explorer) and Mario Testino (with his particular view of fashion) and Wong Sim (with his seductive way to show the human body). Tumblr and Instagram too: both social medias help me to be fresh and refresh my references every single day.
How have you developed your career? How did you come to work in your creative industry?
Working with no rest, really. I’ve started with photoshop in 2007, when I was ten years old. Then, discovered photography in 2011 in a school course, where I’ve met my first girlfriend (now ex girlfriend), a girl who today, even after we break up, I consider one of the most important persons in my life. With her support and my bests friends too, I’ve started looking for tutorials by myself, studying and listening to other photographers or artists. In 2012 I decided to launch my own Facebook page, Roger Vekstein Photography: I would call this the starting of my photography career. It was a new world to me, so at that time I had decided to full dive in and to never get out, and it went pretty well. That working and looking and trying to learn new things, with no rest, made me be where I am today, and let me tell you, of course I still have a lot to learn and I still have a lot of this world to discover.
What are you doing now?
I’m currently on a 4 hour cruise in Guilin, China, going to Yangshuo County. I’ve been travelling around the magnificent Japan and the enormous China for twenty days now, and there’s still two weeks left before I come back home.
Describe your creative process
I have two creative processes: one of them is the one I do alone. Sometimes, I tend to be drawn towards particular stuff. For example, last month it was the color red. I don’t know why, but every single shot I did last month had something red in it, and I swear it wasn’t on purpose! Sometimes my mind surprises me and makes me do things I didn’t even think about. Other times, when I know I’m into this particular stuff (last month I didn’t realize it was red until the month finished and I saw all my work), I tend to put this stuff on purpose on my work. To give you another example, a few months ago I discovered a lightning technique used in an editorial for Schön Magazine, so I tried to apply the technique for personal shootings I did at that time. Generally, I sit and think what I would like to do, look for some references and draw: drawing the possible frames and lighting always helped me to get better results on the shooting day, I like to keep things in control (even when I improvise something on the shooting day, I like to have an idea of what I’m going to do figured out already).
My second creative process, is the one I love the most: the one I do with my team work. I love talking to new people to work with (and working with people I know too of course), and love to do stuff we both like: so sometimes, maybe via phone or in person, we hang out and talk to see what we want to achieve or create is sensational, important, and would produce a beautiful result!
What do you want to say with your work?
I consider myself a universe creator. I want people to feel how my universe feels to me, even if it’s a work I did for a brand, a magazine or any kind of client. My photographs represent how I see the world (every single one of course at the time they were taken), and that for me is quite unique. I think sometimes that happens with every single artist too and that’s spectacular.
How would you define your style?
I think my images are very versatile: it’s weird because some people say they recognize my work, but I have so many faces in my job that I don’t think I have a particular style: I do fashion, commercial, food and more. Maybe the composition, color correction and the fact I photograph things I love are the things that defines me the most, but I’m keep growing and improving myself and my images and that changes my style sometimes too. When I started (2012-2014), all my material were surrounded by color. All of them. Years later (2015-2017), I usually did some dark images. Last year (2018) I started mixing all my old styles, making dark colourful scenes, very light unsaturated, and other were just completely different I can’t even describe. Let’s see where 2019 will bring me!
Paint a picture of where you live/describe it:
Roger’s world. That’s all it is.
What is your favourite era of design?
Probably today. I love how things evolve and I love to evolve with the industry.
Who has been the most inspirational person for you?
A professor I’ve had a few years ago. I was studying photography and this art direction teacher, Sol Pardo (creator of “Pardo Hats”), suddenly appeared. On the first class, she told us that every single photo needed to tell something, and that there were anything more beautiful than creating universes with characters in them. Who’s the person you want to appear in your story? What’s that person’s background? Something is happening in the scene? In which context the shooting is happening? Is it really something happening besides the model in the scene? Do you really need the scenery to tell something this time, or the model is strong enough to tell something by themselves? That, and a lot more questions really moved me and keep helping me every single time I have to plan or do a shooting now. Every single work I do is creation of my own (or of course my team work) questions.
What’s the project you are working on right now that you feel most passionately about?
A few months ago, I started doing food photography. That really took me out of my comfort zone, because I’ve never done anything like that before. I started working with small brands or independent creators, creating content for them depending on what they needed. And recently, I’ve had the chance to work (and still ongoing) with an amazing patissier called Yanina Bloch. She usually sends me her creations and let my creativity flow: I work alone in my studio (or maybe sometimes with my best friends or family) creating scenes with food that calls for my attention, and she loves it. Of course we started somewhere (some reference images, an aspirational color, etc.) but besides that she trusts me one hundred percent and she wants me to play with her food. She really does love the final images, and I love them too, because unimaginable things come out with such little products. This kind of photography and the things I’m currently creating with her are really moving me right now. I have discovered something new I love too besides fashion, commercial and documentary photography.
Describe your “typical” daily routine?
Well, my week is particularly full. I wake up, have breakfast (I love breakfast), train (I do acrobatic gymnastics), study (graphic design or marketing, and once a week japanese), and work in my “free” time of the week (besides photography I work in a community helping children to grow and discover the world while they play).
What project of yours ha s inspired you the most?
My first job for a shopping mall, it was insane. I got a call to do a christmas campaign for a brand and I found out it was going to be in the window display of the brand’s store in a shopping mall, so the planning and execution were an enormous pressure for me. Thankfully, we managed to do a cool job, and then a few weeks later, being there and looking at my work printed on the gigantic wall of the store inspired me to do even more, and it was a seminal moment in my career.
What are your beauty secrets?
Control my diet and look and dress just as I want to, not as other want me to. My friends say that’s my own style, but I don’t consider it a style… I’m just being me.
How do you look after yourself mentally and physically?
Doing things I love while equally spend time with my family and friends. If I have a problem or I’m stressed I always tend to go to see a friend and relax. Also training: training is a very important part of my life because I helps me disconnect from everything else. In the gym, there’s other type of work, other type of stress and other type of people, and I love that.
What’s your favourite film?
“I Origins” – If you haven’t watched it, please go watch it right now.
Do you have a favourite quote that you try to live by?
“There’s no lack of time, there’s lack of interest, because when people really want, morning becomes day, Tuesday becomes saturday and a moment becomes an opportunity”.
What makes you nervous?
Lack of time, I think. And it’s a little stupid because I usually don’t have time for myself on purpose. Oh, and when people say “let’s meet at 10!”, and they arrive at 11. I was here waiting for you, buddy.
Is there anything in your career that you regret not doing?/regret doing?
I don’t particularly regret about it, because I think it was a fundamental part of my growth as a photographer. But when I started working for real money, the fear of thinking that some clients might not work with me because of high prices sometimes made me work a lot and stressed myself out even more than I could possibly handle. But as I said, that was an important part of my growth: I’ve had the chance of working with awesome clients and understand what should I do for them with future works. If you are an artist and reading this: you place the value of your art, don’t undervalue your work. “If you are afraid to swim, throw yourself to the lake with that fear as your flag”, that quote helped me a lot.
Who’s the nicest person you have worked with?
My make up artist, Melanie Ratuschny (creator of Miss Melanie Makeup). I met her at a family party, we were sitting in the same table. We got talking and I discovered that she was a starting makeup artist (as well as a professional singer) and at that time I was starting professional photography too. Right after the party, we decided that we wanted to do a shooting together. As I was just starting out, I had never worked with an agency model before. So I called a friend of mine to model, and Melanie was okay with that. After a few hours of shooting, we made a really cool shooting together (I was starting with studio lights too, so that was a new experience as well as working with a make up artist) and that’s how our collaboration began. The years went on (it’s been like 6 years now) and she became an important person in my life, not just as a makeup artist but as a friend. We’ve travelled together to another country, share our stories, insecurities and dreams. She’s always there for me and working with me, because we understand each other so well and we really love to create things together. Photography is always making this kind of connections. You meet new people and have the chance to work with wonderful humans, and that’s beautiful. If it wasn’t for what we love (photography and makeup), we’ve never had the chance to meet, and the fact we had that chance is more special for us too.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Hopefully, doing things I love the most. I see myself out of Argentina too. I would love to live in New York.
Do you dream?
Of course I do. Dreaming is the motor of my life.
If you were a perfume what would you smell like?
Abercrombie’s Fierce. Not because I smell or look like an Abercrombie model, of course. Firstly, because it’s my go-to perfume. I use it every single time. I have like three empty bottles in my house. Secondly, because of its name. Fierce people have the courage to achieve their dreams, and when I started I didn’t even like what I did. I grew up with that perfume and it helped me.
What’s on your playlist right now?
It’s full of instrumental music, every single one for different situations. Music helps me connect with the environment, and just as my photographs, connect with my universe. Right before I started answering this questions, I was listening to Bundle of Joy (from the movie Inside Out).
Can you describe what are you doing now, with your life and work?
Right now I’m trying to live in the present moment, as I’m trying to achieve my goals. At the beginning of 2018, I told myself “I want to have a printed magazine cover this year”, and fortunately I managed to do that: that’s how my first cover came out for a New York magazine called “Promo Mag News”. This year I have my goals too and I will move to achieve them, surrounded by people I love, which help me continue every single day, and of course, i’m not only talking of photography, this is my philosophy in every aspect of my life.
See more Roger’s work on his Instagram