Elias Wessel (*1978 in Bonn – Bad Godesberg, Germany) is a fashion photographer living in New York City.

Elias Wessel studied Art History, Visual Communication and Photography in Germany. He did his masters at the University of Art and Design Offenbach am Main. Already during his studies he worked for numerous renowned photographers, studios, advertising agencies and design bureaus in Hamburg, Paris and New York. His activities in street art were the first medium to inspire Wessel to work in the visual arts. Meeting with Sigmar Polke in Bonn 1997 had him drawing and painting before he persued photography.

Wessel’s images are described as intersection between fashion and fine art photography. His work is a particularly elegant blend of stylization, magical realism and an intense color palette. A sophisticated blend of opposites – sexuality and innocence, pop and noir, dynamism and control – telling infinite stories.

Elias Wessel has already worked with models such as Omahyra Mota, Lydia Hearst, Camilla Alves, Myf Sheperd. Amanda Lepore and Iekeliene Stange, cooperated with MNDR, Betsey Johnson, Naeem Khan, Cynthia Rowley, J. Walther Thompson, Stefan Sagmeister and Paola Antonelli among others. His work can be found in art- and fashion magazines, advertising campaigns, celebrity portraits, booklets and exhibitions.


You have a background in street art, drawing and painting. Most recently you’ve focused on photographing models. How did you become to shoot fashion?

What has driven me into the fashion industry is not fashion. I think fashion is an instrument to show things, a decor in a picture. Coming from street arty, design and a fine art background I am more into the image itself. I like to call fashion the vocabulary of an image, and to create pictures that talk.


The use of opposites in your photos create striking effects. There is a lot of movement in the pics, and in a very artistic approach, you use vivid colours and metallic shades. Is there a path of development, from where you started to where you’re now headed?

I never really thought about style but I am aware of what surrounds me because it influences and inspires. It is more about what I want to say and which feel I want to translate. The concept behind things interests me the most. I was always attracted to style and colors but that just happened, and it might change. I never want to limit myself by thinking about how my style should look like.




What do you look for in a model? Are there specific features or characteristics which define the photo you want to make?

Authenticity! Authenticity mixed with sophisticated edginess, something petite, subliminal sexiness and elegant innocence.


Some of your photos are quite provocative and can be interpreted as projecting political messages. Are you aiming to express your inner thoughts or opinions through the images? In your profession, do you feel there is such an obligation between you and the viewer, to provoke ?

For me it is about developing and elaborating my visual language. To gain a fresh regard on things. At first this is an inner process which has a lot to do with psychology and oneself. And because I have a very personal view on the world, I take the risk of not being “successful” in the moment of development. But if I am capable of formulating my language in a way in which it gains symbolic character, the door to a new and interesting beginning opens: the possibility that this language is also readable for others. 

Of course I want to communicate, explore and overstep boundaries. There is always moral, ethics, and sense, but no tabus. Those would just limit me.




What are you working on right now?

I just finished “There Must Be More To Life” which turned out to be a fantastic project with Amanda Lepore and can hopefully be seen in an exhibition at some point. Now I am co-operating with an unbelievable artist in Taipei… but I don’t like talking about future projects. Not out of secrecy but discussing them extensively robs me of the desire to actually do them. 



Interview: Anna Kelhu 

About The Author


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