Color as a precursor to emotion

Otto Masters (London)

Otto Masters is a British-born South African-German photographer based in London, UK. Through a desire to push the boundaries of what photography can be – he incorporates fashion, fine art, documentary, still life, and portraiture photography in his practice. Working with analogue and digital processes, his work focuses on the lives that are unfolding around us and the hidden messages we are not being told. He explores both the extraordinary and the every day, the journeys we take and the people we can become. Recurring themes in his work include dark romanticism, queer narratives and environmental issues. He seeks to subvert the messaging around these subjects in order to empower others and promote positive change in the world.

You use a lot of strong colours in your work. The choice of colours, the combination of colours, and the expressions are sensual, what inspires you to use colour the way you do?

I like to think of colour as a precursor to emotion, that carries the black and white tones within an image. I often prefer black and white images, so I really have to make sure when using colour, the same feeling and timelessness are translated across.

Can you tell me what inspired your photo series, Unfulfilled Love?

The story was exploring ideas of being stuck between two places. Transitional spaces where people are on a journey. The idea of exploring this with unrequited love. Love you would never receive back. Say whether that is leaving your hometown, moving abroad, or someone that will never love you back. I had recently moved to London when I shot this so the work was very much a reflection of my emotions at that time.

What do you look for/what interests you about a portrait subject?

I like someone who has a story to tell. Someone who is different, an outsider, not from the conventional mainstream. Interesting features that don’t follow the beauty ideal. People from underrepresented backgrounds and minorities.