Creating a world the audience would like to inhabit is what photographic duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott do so well. This world is magical, playful yet mysterious, sensual, and dark. Looking at their photos, you are inside a dark fairy tale.
In the world of fashion photography, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott are among my favorites. They are considered masters of retouching, capable of producing photos with such highly saturated colors that fill up your senses.
The duo insist that most great photographs are the ones that do not require much preparation, rather they happen spontaneously. When asked what elements link their photographs, they mention storytelling, surrealism, and darkness.
Mert and Marcus describe their very first shoot, illustrating the frustration and suffering that goes with producing something artistic and beautiful.
She arrived at our home and we started taking pictures of her, but the pictures were boring. We didn't find normal photos that intriguing, so we tortured ourselves immensely. Just beautiful was not sufficient. We didn't care about techniques or sharpness—we just wanted to make something that people would react to. So at the end of the day, we pulled the glass out of our oven and shot her through this glass with some water drops on it. The result was dark and weird, so we published it.
The narcissistic side - on the obsessive insistence of creating something that is unquestionably your own. In fact, the only way of "doing your thing":
The mind wants to see color in a certain way. I may see a red in a photo, and my mind says, "That's not the right red!" So you search for that right red, and that's when something becomes yours—your red. I guess we're all selfish, cocky artists who want to do what we believe and what we believe only. [all laugh] We just do our thing. If you're lucky, "your thing" becomes popular and people respond to it. In our case, people seem to like it.
Finally, the duo describes their individual inspirations, each vision so evident, yet both seamlessly combined to create their dual vision with their photography.
PIGGOTT: As a child, I used to find it very intense looking at Bosch, almost like an out-of-body experience. There was so much to explore in his work, all the details and scenarios and sexuality in one painting. And the first time I saw a French Vogue with pictures by Helmut Newton was super intense.
ALAS: I associate myself with the late 1920s and early '30s, with the beginning of surrealism, Dada, Bellmer, Dalí, Delvaux. I wish I were a part of something like that, or the Beat generation.
Read the rest of the interview here
For a complete portfolio of their work, click here
Read a funny and anecdotal article from The New Yorker