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Axel Brand : 1x Featured Dance Photographer

by Yvette Depaepe 
Published the 26th of April 2021

Axel Brand
has found his passion in minimalistic dance photography in which he really excels.  He always strives to achieve elegance, grace and calmness in all of his works. To Alex, ballet triggers emotions by looking to perfection and beauty, making him often cry from sheer happiness.
By sharing those strong feelings through his work, he succeeds to deeply move the viewers.
Enjoy this wonderful interview with a fine and sensitive artist.




Dear Axel, please briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I was born in 1976 Southern Germany and have been photographing intensively since 2014.  I started with travel photography (documentation, landscape) in January 2017 and also wanted to try studio photography which I began in 2018 with ballet and dance photography. The whole process of capturing dance images captivated me since the very beginning and still fascinates me today as much as it did on the first day.

Since 2018, I have been doing photography during the weekends as a sideline activity. In the meantime, I'm giving workshops for ballet photography but also for other categories such as rhythmic gymnastics, contortion and artistic nudes.  Most of the participants are from Germany but also from other European countries.




How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
It was always clear to me that I wanted to see the world to get to know and understand the many different cultures, religions and ways of doing things with their rituals and festivals. There are so many interesting things to see in the world, from which you can learn a lot and broaden your personal horizons. During my travels, I  always was in close contact with the local population and always learned a lot to understand things and views, why people act accordingly or have a different point of view.

What first attracted you to photography?
For me, photography began like it probably does for all other photographers.
I wanted to capture certain moments that touched me so that later, when I looking again at them, I could revive the emotions I felt at the time.

We remember those moments which had a strong emotional impact on us for a very long time but over time however, memories fade away of become somewhat distorted subconsciously.
In the worst case, we also forget them, whether unconsciously or through illness. With the pictures, however, we can always return in the past to refresh these memories/emotions and to feel them again.






Describe your overall photographic vision.
A picture should be concentrated on the essentials, everything unnecessary eliminated, as it has no influence on the picture's effect or message.




My style is minimalist and concentrates on the lines of the dancers, emphasised by the lighting and contrasts. Which is very much in keeping with this, as the lines are also very important in dance.

Katarina Merk – 'Dedication'




Why are you so drawn by Dance Photography.
I did a shoot with Katharina Merk for the first time in 2018. She is a ballerina and I had so much fun working with her and creating ballet pictures, also because the pictures are very aesthetic and every single picture is something special, captivated me.

Ballet and dance photography captivates me, as I place a lot of emphasis on light/lines. Professional dancers have a very good feeling for the body and know how to use it very aesthetically and with perfect form.

The path to becoming a professional dancer is a lot of hard work. Years of intensive training are necessary to present the figures in such a way that they are aesthetic and trigger emotions in the viewer. For me, ballet triggers emotions, such a strong joy to look at this perfection and beauty that I even cry from sheer happiness.





'Flying dress'




What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Of course, pictures should be technically flawless, that's what I attach importance to. But more important to me is the artistic aspect together with the image's message. The picture should arouse emotions in the viewer. 
Be it through elegance or a perceived lightness (although the figure is heavy). Preferably everything in one picture.

The viewers should be guided through the picture in a targeted manner. In studio photography, I achieve subconscious guidance through targeted lighting or through contrasts. Regardless of what you are photographing - whether it is people photography, landscapes or still life.


 'Reach the stars'


What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
I love watching ballet, it's a beautiful way of expressing something without words.
I maintain a loyal friendly and also partnership relationship with my models.
This strengthens their trust in each other, which also has an effect on the pictures.

What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I use a system from Fuji, as the contrast range suits my type of photography very well

What software do you use to process your images?
I edit my images in Photoshop CC and Lightroom. Each image is processed separately, I refuse batch processing or even filters etc., as each one should be unique. This is very time-consuming but I enjoy doing it very much.

Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
The majority of my retouching work is cleaning up the floor and wall. I then edit the tonal values in Lightroom.

What is your most important advice to a beginner in Dance Photography and how do you get started?
Be highly concentrated on the dancers and movements so that the perfect moment is caught. Working with the dancers is also very important as they see the lines/perspective of each figure better than photographers who are new to the subject.




Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography? 
I like the pictures by Alexander Yakovlev and Carlos Quezada very much.
The flour pictures series by Alexander Yakovlev radiates a lot of calm and elegance, but at the same time also a dynamism through the flour dust.
Carlos Quezada creates beautiful pictures with his male-dancer-project, which also appear very elegant but powerful.

Elegance, dynamism and calmness are also important to me in my pictures, as these attributes contribute a lot to the aesthetics.

Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
The photos by Alexander Yakovlev and Carlos Quezada are perfect.
It is very difficult to make a choice. I can only warmly recommend taking a look at both. They are great photographers!

Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I feel very comfortable with ballet and dance photography and it gives me a lot of pleasure and fun to create beautiful images together with the dancers. I would like to continue working on this in the future.

Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?


'the hat'

This picture is one of my absolute favourites. I like the minimalism in the picture. Although you can't really see much and the rice hat is the most dominant, it fades into the background.
I like the elegance and softness of the fingers touching the hat, the light highlighting the body contour ever so slightly and some sex appeal with the hip and tights lit up.
It's all very subtle, but the minimalist lighting makes it stand out, especially with the super performance of the model.

Is there anything else you wish to add  and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
The 1x gallery is a very high quality gallery where fantastic works of all genres are curated. It fills me with pride when images of mine successfully go through this process, and serves as a quality indicator for me.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the whole team and Yvette Depaepe for the fabulous work they do every day!

And last but not least, a special thanks to all my models
From the bottom of my heart, I would also like to thank all my regular models for their great cooperation and that you accompany me on this photographic journey.
Namely Katharina Merk, Lexa-Lee, Marietta Fliegerbauer, Jana Prendel, Stine Ehlert, Daria Ivakhnenko.
What would I be without you and your great achievements?
A thousand thanks for that, I am very proud of you! Big hugs!!










Many thanks!
I think you have a real good feeling for esthetics. Some of your works remind me of Robert Mapplethorpe. Bailare, Skirt and Dance are real masterpieces ! Thanks to Yvette for conducting and publishing this interview.
Heartfelt thanks for your kind words!
Many thanks!
Just beautiful, love your work!
Heartfelt thanks!
Well deserved!!! Excellent work - herrliches Portfolio - Glückwunsch Axel!
Thank you so much for your kind words!!
I had the pleasure to visit one of your workshops, as you know, Axel. So I know you're not only a great photographer, but also a very nice person. Keep up the good work, and might Covid pass one day, I might join again, but want these jumping shoots, too! (As you know) :-)
Hi Mike, thank you very much!! Would be a pleasure to meet us again!! And the jumps are possible because i only do workshops in the biggest studio in the meantime, which we have enough space for jumps (and no paper background) :)
Absolutely professional work from you and the models. Congratulations!
Many thanks for your kind word, I´m pleased!!
Bravissimo ... truly complete images as a whole, creation, composition, light, originality and mood ... Bravo! ..
Mille Gracie!! Thank you so much for your kind words!!
I love your beautiful work Axel. Congratulations
I´m pleased you like it, thank you so much!!
I like this photographer particularly because I love dancers photography . Thanks Yvette for another amazing article. Regards
Heartfelt thanks dear Federico!!
Thank you so much!
Beautiful work full of elegancy and grace, Axel ! Congratulations with this fine interview. It was a pleasure to collaborate with you. Cheers, Yvette
Heartfelt thanks dear Yvette for your´s and support!! Very much appreciated!!