Thiago Vargas on his travels: from Brazil to Berlin, how one photographer found his passion
We invited the Brasilia-born photographer and model scout Thiago Vargas to shoot our newest frames on some of his current favourite male model faces.
From his position in front of the lens, Thiago Vargas saw his future. Spending his childhood walking in Brazilian Beauty Pageants and posing as a kid-model, with his mother supporting him from beyond the stage, Vargas, early on learned what it takes to turn heads and what makes a good image, exceptional. Transitioning out from the world of IT, coding and computers, and into the flashing lights and spontaneity of fashion, Vargas felt compelled to experiment. It was upon purchasing his first DSLR camera back in 2016 that his passion and talent for photography was made clear.
We invited Thiago to shoot a selection of our current design highlights on three male model faces he currently worked with in his role as scout and booker and wanted to know more about his creative process and his travels.
You’re from Brazil originally, where did you grow up and at what point did you realize your love for taking photos?
I grew up in Brasilia, the capital, spending my childhood and youth there. I’ve been always somehow involved with photography but at an early age I was mostly in the front of the camera. Surprisingly, I was a model as a child, taking part in children’s beauty pageants. It was funny to see all the hysterical mothers screaming at their children backstage, trying to act out all the moves they should do… but amidst this my own mother was kind to me.
I swapped sides, moving behind the camera, as an adult, now living in Germany. In 2016 I got my first DSLR camera and started experimenting. I fell in love with taking pictures, how it invited people to see the world through my eyes.
What draws you to taking portraits, as this seems to make up the body of your work? I have to admit, taking portraits was not a conscious choice.
I love fashion photography but it is much more about the scenery and the clothes. I like to capture all spectrums of emotion, and portraiture-photography helped to shape my work and it was then that I started getting noticed.
In terms of your role as a model scout, can you recall any faces or personalities that stood out to you the most? What qualities do you look for when scouting for talent/models/new faces?
There are a lot of faces that have impressed me. But for sure one of the faces that have stuck in my mind belongs to the stunning Russian model, Nastya Kirikova, of whom I had the pleasure to work with, as her booker here in Germany. I caught myself looking at her pictures, on minimum once a day. She is very edgy but somehow also has commercial appeal, which is what makes her very versatile.
When scouting, I try to keep some standards in mind, like measurements. But what shapes you as a scout mostly is your personal taste and your vision on what is or is not beautiful. I personally tend to stay somewhere between edgy and beauty – and faces always get me first, rather than body shape.
As an expat yourself, could you offer any advice for creatives looking to refine & sharpen their skills and art abroad?
In my experience I would say, place the same effort into building your network wherever you go. Just as you would put in to finish your masters or to work on your art. Most artists neglect this, which I believe is something crucial to their success. Also, it often feels as though individuals in the arts field, from fashion to painting, are using people, or that they themselves are being used or abused. Because of that, they don’t network properly. I also felt like that in some occasions, but I’m pragmatic and so, after some time I realized, we all have doors, each with a variable amount of opportunities behind them, which can be opened with the right force. Everybody wants something from you and you from them as well. Your only concern is to see how people behave once you’ve opened the door.
How did leaving your home shape your artistic identity?
I told myself from a young age that I wasn’t a creative person, I was a computer nerd basically. So I ended up studying informatics and later became an IT Manager. But, I started to perceive myself differently whilst living in Germany. The moment I saw that I did indeed have some “creative activity” in my life was when I got married to a German Film director, producer and script writer. Being so often surrounded by creative people made me see that I actually had this within me all the time, I just wasn’t able to let it flow. To start, I was doing singing classes, then music writing and then began reading different books about storytelling. For a period of two years, I was an assistant for a Brazilian Painter friend of mine who lives in Berlin, I learned a lot about the art world in this period. On the other hand, I was helping a fellow photographer friend of mine by sometimes assisting or posing for her artworks; and it was at that point that I decided I would pursue photography. She was mentoring me in the beginning and at some point I naturally became very committed to it.