Luis Sanchis

Spanish photographer talks with us about his photoshoot with Madonna for her Nothing Really Matters single and his unique style.

In 1999 Madonna did an interesting and intimate photoshoot with luis sanchis and some of the photos were later used as a part of the nothing really matters single cover design. luis shares with us some tidbits about it and talks about his unique style and movie fascinations.

How did you end up working with Madonna on this 1999 shoot? It was Madonna who approached you or it was the other way?

Originally the shoot was for Arena magazine. The magazine presented to Madonna several photographers and she picked me.

How the whole concept for the shoot was developed? It's a little bit geisha-inspired and we know that Madonna was very into this subject at the time.

I guess she was into the geisha look at that time but my shoot had nothing to do with that. Her hair was black which it made her look very different. I spoke to the magazine and i met Madonna a couple of times and I presented her a few ideas and she picked the ones she was into it.

Did you know this shoot purpose ie. Nothing Really Matters single cover? It was also used on many different magazines as an advert for her then upcoming Ray of Light Tour (which later was scrapped) so we wonder what the original plan was.

Those images were run in Arena magazine and later on they picked two of them for the album cover. I didn't know till later on.

Shoot's location seem very intimate and interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

The location was the Hilton Hotel in NYC. I set up a few lighting scenarios and we went from one to another one. The intimacy has more to do with the lighting, framing, situation and feeling.

We always wonder if there's a music playing during the actual shoot? Or complete silence?

I was so busy with my assistants and you have such a little time to shoot 5/6 different images in a few hours that I don't remember if we had music or not. We probably had music playing.

It was in the beginning of my career and I didn't have the experience I have now so to shoot Madonna I guess it was a big deal.

Was Madonna involved in choosing particular frames? Like who decided to use particular shot for a single cover etc. Tell us more how it works with picking final set of pictures.

Those images were shot on analog/film. I made a set of contacts and marked my favorite ones. She picked the ones I like.

Do you have some favourite tunes from Madonna's catalouge? 

I like her first two albums.

You have very interesting and individual style. Is that something you were developing with years and experience or you started your photographic adventure with the clear idea how your work should look?

Style as you called is something you develop with time or maybe you born with it and just have to find it and develop it. When I look back at my early work in my teens, you can see the similarities and the evolution within the style. I believe we all learn from what everybody else did before us. After that is up to your hard work, skills and experience and experimentation to find your "style" and also to which things you connect with because ideas are in the air... for me it happened naturally.

You photographed a lot of celebrities and there is something that those photos have in common – they (celebrities) look different than in any other photoshoot they did. Is that your goal to show a different side of your model than everybody knows?

I think about it sometimes because they really look different but i don't have an answer. That's the way it happens or the way i saw them at that specific moment. My state of mind....  

You have always limitations but you can use these limitations to your advantage.

We read in one of the interviews you gave that you were trying yourself in shooting short movies with Super8 camera (which we are great admirers of) – is that still something you are interested in?

My background is cinema. From the age of 17 till 22 all i shot was Super 8 Film. Most of those movies are lost but I still have some of them that I want to transfer to digital and edit them. They were shot in the early eighties in Spain. Right on the new wave times so it will be interesting to see what I have in there. It's been 25 years since last time I saw them.

Everybody shoots film now. Every photographer is doing video. I have a few ideas I would like to shoot in Super 8 but the process is slow and expensive nowadays but I will do it at some point.

Nowadays there is a huge support from digital software, Photoshop etc. Do you like to use it extensively or you are more like old school type of photographer who doesn't like to alter much his raw photos?

Most of my work is done in camera and later on color correction and over all feeling.  Very similar to the way i used to do in the darkroom.  I still shoot film as much as i can.  You can call it old school but for me is all about to get it right on camera with the situation, lighting etc... Photoshop is a great tool.  You can do sooooo many things and make an image that is shit look good but as i said i prefer to get it on camera.  That's the fun!  I use photo shop for skin and minor things.  All the images on my website are shot on camera, no cloning or superimposed backgrounds etc...  when you work for advertising, a different story but i still keeping it as pure as i can.

If you could give one advice for someone who starts his adventure with photography what would you say?

Shoot shoot shoot.  Experiment.  Don't follow the rules.  Learn from the masters but find your way.  Get inspired but don't rip off.


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