VMI. Dario, who is Misja?
D&M. Misja (Dutchman) is the most loyal, honest and creative person you could ever meet. He is a fantastic storyteller… but don’t get him started on his family… you’ll never hear the end of it!
VMI. Misja, who is Dario?
D&M. Dario (New Zealander) is the most charming and talented person I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with… although I want to kick him in the ass at least 3 times a day… He is the best!
VMI. Why photography and at what moment did you decide to do photography together?
D&M. In all honesty, we stumbled upon it. We both come from performance backgrounds: one a dancer, the other an actor. We are a couple who have been together for nearly 17 years. About 12 years ago we decided to join creative forces and create television shows (we bought our first DSLR camera to create images to support the presentations.) This led us to living in France for two years and eventually moving over to Los Angeles. We had a number of contracts with some major companies there including Sony Pictures International and Madonna’s Maverick Films. When casting twins for one of the shows, we were interviewing the most beautiful girls who had the most awful casting photos. We saw a possible gap in the market and decided to take photography a little more seriously. Eventually we returned to Amsterdam, had a hit show on television and a growing photography career. Then photography took over and became our biggest love and full time occupation.
Photography is a much faster creative process than, let’s say, making a Tv show. We love the visual medium and working with talent from different backgrounds. Telling a story together with a great team (styling, make-up, models and/or celebrities) on great locations and creating something special is very rewarding.
VMI. How do you balance both your creative input between each other on your photos?
D&M. This is very organic. We brainstorm (fight, kick and scream, like a married couple) over a concept. Anything is possible and nothing is stupid. On the sets we both shoot in turn and we both edit. There has never been a conversation about who does what and when. It just happens naturally.
The great secret is to leave your ego out of the equation.
VMI. What are you working on right now?
D&M. We are very blessed to be very busy and the work is diverse. We are not photographers who like to shoot the same ‘one thing’. We just finished three fashion editorials which will be published internationally, that we are very excited about. There are a couple of celebrity projects in pre production in the next couple of weeks and we are in negotiations with a regular commercial client for the rebranding of one of their departments.
We have also developed a high concept fashion campaign for a big international designer and the reactions to this have been positive. Fingers crossed.
VMI. You did some collaborations with celebrities, does it require another approach than shooting with a model chosen at a casting ?
D&M. Celebrities are not models. They need a story, or some form of reason/motivation to help them on camera. Our dance and acting backgrounds are really helpful here.
On the other hand if you shoot someone like Snoop Dogg, you basically ‘don’t have to do anything’. He’s larger than life and anything he does, makes him Snoop, which is fabulous. Most celebrities are very ‘hands on’ about what is shot. We have the tendency to want to give them something different, so we have to use our selling skills to convince them to let us do what we want to do. A model is cast for look and personality and then the rest of the team determine what happens to them, which makes the whole process of shooting faster.
VMI. What makes a good photograph?
D&M. A good story: whether it is for the photographer’s satisfaction, who is successful is creating exactly what he/she wants to convey, or for the viewer’s imagination, who can be moved in some way by what he/she is seeing.
Other than that, we say no rules!
VMI. In general, “Citizen Kane”, “Cassablanca”, “2001 a Space Oddesey” are considered masterpieces amongst movies, same as “Dark Side Of The Moon” (Pink Floyd), “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts” (Beatles), “Excile on Main St.” (Stones) for music. What masterpieces would you add for photography ?
D&M. Love this question, but it’s a very tough one because there are so many greats. Let’s pick three as you gave three examples each.
The early Richard Avedon images where the models ‘danced’ and moved on with the camera (prior to this, the models were static with no movement.). Simple but brilliant.
The early concept images by Annie Leibovitz— seemingly simple (but unbelievably brilliant) ideas, Keith Haring, nude, painted in his own painting. An artwork in an artwork. Fantastic storytelling. By looking at the photo you know immediately everything there is to know about the artist.
The works of Jean Paul Goude— Grace Jones standing on one leg. He developed photoshop in a brilliant way. He uses a very specific combination of aesthetics and humor.
VMI. What are you excited about lately?
D&M. Creativity never dies, and the opportunity to work in a field that is forever changing and developing is a true blessing. Waking up each day, not always knowing what opportunities and challenges the day will bring is a very exciting way to live.
VMI. Helmut Newton or David la Chapelle?
D&M. This is a very ‘Sophie’s Choice’ question… two photographic giants.
Both artists explore sexuality in their work. We love David’s conceptual work— his color, theatricality and storytelling. His ability to always push the envelope with celebrities is truly amazing.
But to be honest, we would choose Helmut to hang on the wall. Helmut’s work is raw and powerful, dark and moody. Helmut’s work draws you in, whereas David’s work is very ‘in your face’.
VMI. Biggest struggle you overcame?
D&M. We try not to talk about ‘the struggle’, but more about ‘the process’. So there is no struggle ever, but just a lot of hard work in getting better. ALL THE TIME. On every level— technically, working with people, understanding fashion, telling a story and above all, working together (which is the best thing, but still a work in progress).
VMI. Favorite record when you’re sad and surrender to it?
D&M. We talked about this question a lot… but to our own surprise we are never sad… sometimes stressed or troubled, but never sad. We would be more likely to put on some empowering music that lifts us up, like the “Ray of Light” album by Madonna or some good old U2 album, than sit in misery listening to sadness…
We do love melancholic music… but that makes us feel more romantic than sad
Music is very important to us anyway. We make a new playlist for every photoshoot. It always helps tell the story and creates the mood on set, like a movie soundtrack.
VMI. Tom or Jerry?
D&M. Misja is Tom and Dario is Jerry but more in a Bert and Ernie kind of way…
VMI. Guilty pleasures in music?
D&M. Don’t get us started on guilty pleasures… you can never have enough.
When in doubt, apply more mirrorball (Kylie, Cher and the whole Priscilla: “Queen of the Desert” soundtrack)
But here’s the thing: NEVER feel guilty about a guilty pleasure… When it’s pleasure do not apply guilt.
VMI. Dario, what should people never forget about Misja?
D&M. People should never forget how they felt after spending time with Misja. I can promise you— safe, creative and special!
VMI. Misja, what should people never forget about Dario?
D&M. That Dario has worked in the industry, all over the world, for more than 4 decades and you should definitely trust his judgment.
VMI. What question do interviewers always forget to ask you?
D&M. This one!
VMI. At the end of all questions, there is a special concept focused on inspiration. We ask you to name a designer/artist (or more) that inspire you and what questions (3 or more) would you ask him/her if you were our editor/interviewer. We will then contact this person and if he/she agrees to an interview, at the end we ask them as well to name their inspiration.; this way we would like to create a chain of inspiration, a new way of introducing designers by designers and showcasing where influential inspiration originates and how many paths it follows.
D&M. Vivienne Westwood is a major force in the industry. She is very political, outspoken and very much into ‘the world’.
Question 1 – What is the fashion industry doing that it shouldn’t and what is the industry not doing that it should?
Question 2 – Your collections always come with a message or statement, hidden or otherwise. What message do you still want to get across to the world?
Question 3 – As conceptual photographers, studying your collections each season, conjures up, for us, a world of different possibilities, yet most of your campaign images have a very specific style about them. Is that something that has developed over the years and now works, or is it the result of a complete trust and pure love of the photographer’s work?
Thank you for taking the time.
If you want to check their latest work visit their website www.dariomisja.com or facebook page.