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The 505 - Stefan Wachs

1. Where did you grow up and how did you come to live in New Mexico?

I was born and raised in Switzerland, my father is American and my mother Swiss. Not long after finishing graduate school I was visiting my sister in California and made my way out to Santa Fe. I was planning on just spending a week or two here with friends. But the wide open space and desert landscape of New Mexico captivated me, especially after so many years of living in Switzerland. I never left and ten years later I still call Santa Fe my home...

Stefan Wachs Photograph


2. What lessons has photography taught you?

The main lesson I think is to be more perceptive of my surroundings. My background is in international economics and law, so most of my education was very academic. Photography has taught me to be less analytical and more intuitive and visual in my response to places and people. I think that as a result of this I have become much more observant of my environment than before, even when I'm not actually photographing. 

Stefan Wachs Photograph


3. What person has most influenced you, or your photography? Can you tell me about him or her?

During my time working at the United Nations I came across an exhibition by James Nachtwey. His work along with the work of many other war and documentary photographers always fascinated me and is the reason I first took an interest in photography. As I started working at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and doing more studio work and  formal portraiture, I started studying some of the great portrait photographers such as Richard Avedon, Gregory Heisler or Dan Winters. I also love the work of many fine art photographers, especially Todd Hido.  There is hardly a genre within photography that I'm not interested in and so I'm continuously influenced and inspired by many photographers and artists. The list is long and keeps getting longer.... 

Stefan Wachs Photograph



4. Do you have any passions or talents outside of your work?


My upbringing and my studies have instilled in me a strong desire to travel and explore. I follow world affairs and politics and I'm an avid reader of newspapers and literature. When I'm at home my preferred method of transport is my Harley. I spend as much time riding and exploring the Southwest on my motorcycle as I can!

Stefan Wachs Phtograph


5. If you could photograph anyone or anything living now or at any point in history, who would it be and why? What camera would you want to use?

I'm not as interested in photographing one single person (a celebrity, actor or politician) as I am in photographing a community of people. I've always admired photographers who have spent an extensive amount of time with a specific community, living amongst them and documenting their way of life. I hope to do something like this one day.... Recently I have enjoyed going back to photographing with analog cameras, mostly with a medium format range finder. It slows down the process of photographing and makes it more challenging and meaningful. So that would probably be my camera of choice. 

 Stefan Wachs Photograph