Yasmin Suteja from Culture Machine talks photography and Bali fashion

Posted on March 25 2014

Meet Yasmin Suteja – photographer, art director, video editor and the brain behind the creative collective Culture Machine. Her style of photography is real, but dreamy, it feels personal but accessible. She is not afraid of experimenting, and her style is constantly evolving.

Based between Bali and Australia, this multi-talent has worked with several of the PASAR designers, like Bleach Project, FRANKSLAND, and This Is A Love Song. We talked to her about her photography, her influences, and the Bali fashion scene.

PASAR: Who are your biggest influences in photography, and why?

Yasmin Suteja: Two of my favorite photographers are David LaChapelle and Helmut Newton - both are very different photographers that have influenced by style. I love LaChapelle’s use of pop colour and his distinctive hyperrealist aesthetic. I love Helmut Newtown’s compositions and the visual narratives he creates.

David LaChapelle and Helmu NewtonDavid LaChapelle left, Helmut Newton right

Recently I’ve been obsessed with photographer Cybele Malinowski who has an online photography project called Model-Maison that captures model beauties in a way that is both real and unreal.

There are a lot of opinions about retouching and photo manipulation, especially regarding beauty ideals etc. What are your thoughts on this?

Someone once told me that the best photographers have an ability to ‘make the ordinary extraordinary’. I think I’ve allowed this to direct the way that I see the world and in turn this has influenced my style of photography. Most of the time I find myself constructing a scene or adjusting the environment in which I’m shooting (whether it be opening a window, or moving a table, or adding a prop)– so in that way, photography is already an art of manipulation. So I don’t have a problem with retouching or photomanipulation. I think it’s an art in itself.

Naomi by Yasmin Suteja

Yasmin Suteja shoots Naomi Samara with illustrations by Inès Katamso

In regards to the previous question, is fashion photography "real"?

Fashion photography is hyperreal.

If you could shoot any one, dead or alive, who would it be, and how would you shoot him/her?

Frances Bean Cobain. That Hedi Slimane shoot is still one of my favourites. 

Frances Bean Cobain by Heidi Slimane

Frances Bean Cobain by Hedi Slimane

While you've been working in the fashion scene in Bali the past years, what developments have you seen?

I’ve seen a massive surge in impressive young talent. Bali is the most amazing place to experiment. You get access to exotic beauties, incredible locations and amazing opportunities. It’s the young photographer’s paradise.

 Anastasia by Yasmin Suteja

'Sugar' by Yasmin Suteja, featuring model Anastasia

And where do you see the development going?

Bali is already a creative hub, and the work that comes out of the island is recognized internationally. I think we’re going to see a lot more creatives moving to the island and an increase in collaborative work.

'Currency', by Yasmin Suteja, featuring EGR and Nemis Clothing

Are you able to pick out a favourite photo of yours? Which one, and why?

It would have to be the shot of Fa Empel at La Favela for Ben Trovato. Fa is wearing head-to-toe EGR. I love the print on print and the way that she’s almost camouflage in the scene. I also love the way she’s holding her cigarette. There was natural light coming in from the open ceiling and I just filled it with diffused flash. This was my first ‘big shoot’ working with a team of people who I had admired for a long time. It’s also the cover shot for the CULTURE MACHINE website.

Fa Empel wearing EGR

Fa Empel wearing full EGR outfit, by Yasmin Suteja

Yasmin is a fast learner and a photographer in constant development. While her style keeps evolving, the personality and characteristic in the photos are constant. Keep an eye out for this girl, and follow her work through CULTURE MACHINE and her tumblr!


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