Immigration is a hot topic in Germany right now no doubt, whilst this tends to conjure up a certain stereotype for most people, Achtung Digital interviewed Julien Barbès, who immigrated to Berlin four years ago from Montreal to develop as a photographer. He tells us about his inspiration for the Brutalist Editorial above exclusively on Achtung Digital, and how it was to shoot in one of the dodgier areas of Berlin, along with his thoughts on the differences between his homeland and his new city.
Achtung Digital: What originally drew you into fashion photography?
Julien Barbès: I started a street wear brand with my friends back in Montreal when we were younger; I was the one taking the photographs for look books and magazines so I got more and more drawn into the photography side rather than the brand itself. I decided to study at Dawson College (Montreal) and at about 19 I started assisting in Montreal and New York, with some big name fashion photographers.
I think a lot of creatives are coming to Berlin instead of Paris or London because it is a culture that is moving so fast and it’s inspiring
AD: You’re originally from Montreal but now living full time in Berlin, how does life compare between the two?
JB: Back in Montreal the fashion scene was a little less developed, there are some great photographers but I was getting bored there. I came to Berlin a few years ago for the Bread and Butter festival, fell in love with the creativity of the city and realized that this was the best place for me to develop as a photographer! So I decided to learn German and move to Berlin. I think a lot of creatives are coming to Berlin instead of Paris or London because it is a culture that is moving so fast and it’s inspiring, which pushes everyone to do more.
AD: Tips for younger photographers thinking about breaking to fashion?
JB: It’s a very complicated process for new photographers to find their own style and niche, I had the revelation early on that I had to stay true to myself, as a skater I found myself taking photographs in natural light and more street wear. It is difficult to become known for your signature style, but you have to pursue it and practice. There will of course be things to block you along the way but stay true to yourself and stay original.
I wanted to do something brutal and real like the movie, something to reflect the harshness and rawness of city lifestyle
AD: Inspiration behind the shoot?
JB: Brutalism. La Haine, it’s one of my favorite movies, I wanted to do something brutal and real like the movie, something to reflect the harshness and rawness of city lifestyle. With male models they’re always ready to try everything and they were perfect for this shoot, so we put three boys together in this harsh brutalist architecture in Berlin and got this really organic shoot with natural emotion! The location, Kreuzberg, is known for being a poor area and we heard sometimes the neighbors throw things from the windows if you’re being too loud.
Photography: Julien Barbès
Stylist: Veronique Helmschrott
H&MU: Katja Maassen
Model 1: Kevin @ Iconic Management
Model 2: Florian @ PMA Management
Model 3: Leon @ Core Management
Text by Siân Hughes