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Vienna seen through the lens of Elsa Okazaki

A visual trip through Photography, Film and Art

Elsa Okazaki, born in France, grown up in Amsterdam und Lille, and since several years working as a Visual Artist and Photographer in Vienna. In the following exclusive interview she tells us about her life as a Visual Artist and shows us Vienna through the lense of a professional photographer.

Tell us something about yourself and where do you live?

I am a visual artist, born in France, I lived in Amsterdam and Lille. I come from a french japanese dancer family. I am now based in Vienna.

How would you rate the fashion industry in Vienna? (Are there enough challenges for a fashion photographer?

Vienna is not a typical fashion city. You don’t see a lot of stylish people on the streets like in London, New York or in Tokio. But it is getting better. The young people are very inspired. And concerning the fashion designers, because of the great Modeklasse at the Angewandte, very good designers emerged, like Wendy & Jim, Petar Petrov or recently the duo Bradaric-Ohmae.

Besides photography (fashion), you also work in film, TV, advertising and even music – which part of your work do you enjoy more? Which one allows you the most creative liberties?

I actually really miss working in the film industry. A film team is like a family. From the beginning, it was for me magical to be on a set. Because I worked more on the production side (for my last film project, ‘Imago Mundi’ an short film directed by Lisl Ponger, I was line producer), I was not actually very creative. Unfortunately. I really admired directors, D.o.P… artist who can build atmosphere and stories.

Image or video, which one makes it easier to get your message across?

For the moment, it is easier with the medium photography.

What defines a good shoot: a well-organized team or a charismatic model?

For me, it is very important to have a good atmosphere on the set. Therefore is a good team (model included) essential. I really don’t like ‘attitude’ at work.


Who is the most important person in your team? The stylist, assistant, editor, model or maybe a friend – who inspires you more when you’re looking for a fresh perspective?

Everyone is important, this a team work, I respect the work of each one of them, so I am quite open to suggestions. Not always but often.

Campaign vs editorial – what appeals to you most? Which one gives you more freedom as an artist?

I like both, but editorials give me generally more freedom.


Portraits are a big part of your portfolio, which one has the most fascinating story behind it?

I would not say fascinating, but the funniest story was for the picture I did of Justice. I literally climbed in the backstage space to talk to them, I met them in Vienna, before they got famous. Then we talked and we did the picture. When I want a picture, I can be very obstinate.

Is there a certain personality you would love to do a portrait of?

The Australian singer SIA, the crew of the new Star Wars movie, Michel Gondry, Lady Gaga and much much more..

In your series of self-portraits you rarely uncover your face, it’s more of an interpretation of your personality. Do you enjoy being on the other side of the camera or do you prefer to preserve a certain amount of mystery?

I like to work ‘with me’, when I am alone in the room. And at the end, I chose the most neutral or ‘hiding’ pictures. I don’t want to preserve a mystery, but I don’t want to show too much.

Before you start a project, is it important to get to know the person in front of the lens or do you just follow your vision of what they should do?

Sure it is easier with someone I know. But I really enjoy the development of a shooting, the ‘get to know the person’ in front of the lens.

If you had to choose just one project to represent your photography style & vision, which one would it be and why?

Difficult, because all of them represent it, in a way. Spontanoeusly I would say ‘ASHion’, because it is clean and ‘cheeky’.


Does your photography style differ when you go from a “work project” to a personal one?

I hope not. To have your own style is quite the most important thing, isn’t it?

Are you an organized artist, with a strict schedule or you fit the bohemian romanticized image of an artist?

Because I am not only an artist, but a mum, I must be organized. Before the kids it was worse, I was quite a control freak. My kids actually settle me down. So.. strict but spontaneous, I would say. The bohemian romanticized image of an artist… well, not for me.

Finally Elsa Okazaki shares her insider knowledge about her favourite locations and hotspots in Vienna with us which you can see in her Vienna Trend Guide. We hope you will enjoy a stylish trip to Vienna following the Elsa´s insider recommendation.

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