Sascha van der Werf is a notable fine art photographer based in Vienna. He seized Sensuali‘s attention with his intricate approach to sensual photography. His photos are subtle, sensitive and poetic, yet daring, erotic and incredibly raw- beautifully capturing the nuance of sensuality.

It’s raining both in Vienna and London when we catch up over video call on a Wednesday morning. Sascha’s enthusiasm for life is infectious, and we quickly get lost in candid conversation about his instinctive creative process, the importance of authenticity in his work, and our joint mission to make the world a more sensual place.

 

How did you get into sensual photography?

Well, until 6 years ago, I was a frustrated CEO at a company in Austria, but I knew that it wasn’t the life I wanted. I started experimenting with photography- that was 6 years ago. I began taking pictures simply because I was looking for a way to let out emotions I had kept in for a long time. Today, my photos are an expression of everything that has happened to me in my life – good and bad.

I had time to try out different styles and I learnt that I liked portraits because of my deep-rooted fascination with people, their unique stories, and the idea of capturing fleeting moments in time. Over the years, I’ve honed my skills and developed my unique style, which focuses on authenticity and depth, turning the transient into something enduring.

It’s my passion to reveal the essence of individuals through my lens, creating compelling narratives that resonate on a deeply personal level. So, that’s my story to where I am today in my sensual photography.

 

Sensual photography, by Sascha van der Werf
Sensual photography by Sascha van der Werf.

 

How do you create photos that are somehow soft and sensual, yet punky and loud?

Creating this balance stems from my deep belief in the diversity and complexity of human nature. 

I approach each subject with an open mind and aim to capture the breadth of their personality, from their delicate, sensual aspects to their bold, punky facets. 

This duality in my work mirrors the contrast we all embody – the fusion of softness and strength, quiet introspection and loud self-expression, which in harmony create the authentic and unique essence of each individual I photograph.

 

sensual photography, portraits by sascha van der werf
Sensual photography by Sascha van der Werf.

What 3 words would you use to represent the mood of your sensual photography?

Reflecting on my work, the three words that distinctly represent the mood of my photography would be “authentic,” as I strive to capture the raw essence of my subjects; “expressive,” because I believe in encapsulating the unique emotions and stories of individuals; and “intimate,” as my photography delves deep into the personal journey and character of my subjects, creating a close connection with the viewer.

 

Can you present 3 of your photos?

 

OOHLord:

OOHLord No. 1: sensual photography by sascha van der werf
This image features only the legs of a girl in a bathtub, a little provocative yet tastefully done. I’m drawn to this image because of its ability to stimulate the imagination without crossing into vulgarity. It’s a teasing glimpse that leaves much to the viewer’s interpretation, creating an allure that is both intriguing and sophisticated.

 

Magdalena:

Magdalena: Sensual photography by sascha van der werf
The second image is a sensual portrayal of a girl in what seems like an abandoned, dirty factory. This photo encapsulates the essence of my love for contrast and storytelling. The juxtaposition of the lovely and innocent appearance of the woman against the grim and forgotten backdrop of the factory creates a compelling visual narrative. It’s a mood piece that resonates with the deeper, often conflicting, layers of human emotion and desire.

 

Touched:

Touched: sensual photography by sascha van der werf
My third choice is a minimal yet intensely evocative image showing a hand touching the butt. Though you can see nothing specific, you can imagine everything. I appreciate this photo for its simplicity and the power it holds in that simplicity. It’s a testament to the philosophy that less can indeed be more, capturing the essence of sensuality in a way that’s intimate and universal at the same time.

 

These images together paint a portrait of my approach to sensual photography, reflecting a style that is simultaneously provocative, moody, and minimal, yet always rooted in a sense of authenticity and tasteful artistry.

 

What is your usual shoot process?

My process begins with an idea or a story that I want to tell through my photography. I then collaborate closely with the model, discussing the concept and ensuring they feel comfortable and understood, setting the stage for an authentic and emotional representation.

But sometimes (especially with someone I have never worked with before) doing mood boards and pre-planning doesn’t always work, because it really comes down to the vibe I feel from them on the day and working on those instinctive feelings in the moment.

I wait at least 2 weeks before I start to edit the photos, because I have to emotionally detach myself from them before I can begin. Once I’m ready, I meticulously work on the captured images, keeping in mind the initial vision and narrative, refining them to create a final photograph that embodies the essence of the individual and the story we set out to tell.

 

My older clients are often at significant turning points in their lives, such as approaching a divorce or having just experienced one. They seek my services to explore and affirm their sexiness, eager to embrace their evolving identities.

Why do you shoot in black and white?

One of the main reasons is truthfully because I’m colour blind! Shooting in colour can be noisy and distracting for me. Shooting in black and white bypasses that noise and goes straight to the soul.

In a world obsessed with differences, the absence of colour unites us. I choose to shoot in black and white as it allows me to focus on the essence of the subject without colour distractions. It heightens the emotional depth and raw intimacy of the images, allowing elements such as light, shadows, and contrast to play a bigger role. This medium also aligns with my aesthetic preference for capturing the timeless, intrinsic beauty and individuality of my subjects. 

 

sensual photography\; tasteful nudity, sascha van der werf
Tasteful nudity in sensual photography – Sascha van der Werf.

 

Does your personality shine through in your photography (as well as the model’s)?

Absolutely, it is through my unique lens, my specific way of seeing and feeling the world, that I connect with my subjects and capture their essence.

My work is a reflection of my values, my passion for authenticity, and my ability to find beauty in the raw and real. At the same time, I strive to respect and highlight the subjects’s individuality, creating a symbiotic relationship that leads to captivating, deeply personal images.

The mood of the photos can be very dependent on the mood I have with each particular client on the day, in that specific moment.

 

I look for clients who are authentic. People who are unafraid of physical imperfections and more oriented towards creativity, telling stories together and making authentic sensual photography. Because when you’re real, that’s when you’re the most beautiful.

 

Who is your typical client?

My typical clients are individuals ranging from their early twenties to mid-fifties, each seeking to discover or rediscover a part of themselves through my lens. Younger clients are typically drawn to my edgy style and the fresh perspective I bring to their portraits, offering them an expressive platform to showcase their individuality and spirit.

On the other hand, my older clients are often at significant turning points in their lives, such as approaching a divorce or having just experienced one. They seek my services to explore and affirm their sexiness, eager to embrace their evolving identities. The photos help to give them a new sense of self.

Regardless of their age, all my clients desire a unique, empowering, and deeply personal photographic experience.

I look for clients who are authentic. People who are unafraid of physical imperfections and more oriented towards creativity, telling stories together and making authentic sensual photography. Because when you’re real, that’s when you’re the most beautiful. It has taken me time to learn how to say no to some requests- not every collaboration can always work and that’s okay.

 

authenticity in sensual photography, sascha van der werf
Sensual photography by Sascha van der Werf.

 

Do you have a mission with your sensual photography?

Yes, my mission is multi-faceted. Primarily, it is to connect with individuals on a deeply personal level, enabling them to see themselves through a fresh, empowering lens. My aim is to capture their unique essence, revealing the authentic beauty that lies within each person.

Moreover, I seek to challenge conventional perceptions of beauty, celebrating diversity and individuality in all my portraits. I aspire to create a safe and enjoyable environment that fosters self-discovery, confidence, and self-love, hoping that each person leaves the photoshoot with a greater sense of self-appreciation and understanding.

I also have a mission to de-stigmatise certain concepts through my photos. For example with nudity or fetish- I want to change stereotypical ideas of these concepts through my photos. I’m working on a new project, photographing drag queens, who are often portrayed in a very loud, garish way by photos in the media. I want to use my sensual photography to shine a different light on drag queens and shift people’s perceptions.

Above all, my mission is to make photography an enriching journey, transforming fleeting moments into enduring memories, and telling compelling stories that resonate long after the image is captured.

 

If I can take a photo that makes somebody fall in love with themselves again, I’m super happy. That’s all I need.

 

How do you make your clients feel comfortable enough to be authentic?

Creating a comfortable and safe environment for my clients is paramount to my process. I accomplish this by cultivating an atmosphere of trust, mutual respect, and open communication from the very beginning. I take the time to get to know my clients, to understand their unique stories, insecurities, and aspirations. This mutual understanding allows me to guide them throughout the photoshoot with empathy and sensitivity.

During the session, I encourage my clients to express themselves freely, reminding them that there’s no right or wrong way to be in front of the camera. My ultimate aim is to create a space where they can embrace their authenticity, which I believe is the key to powerful and expressive portraits.

Through this approach, even the most camera-shy individuals often find themselves revealing sides of their personality they never knew they had, resulting in images that truly reflect their inner strength and beauty.

 

I particularly love photographing the eyes- because eyes are never quiet, even when they’re empty, emptiness still speaks.

 

What is your favourite thing about your work?

My favourite aspect of my work is the connection I forge with people. Every individual I photograph has a unique story, and it’s incredibly rewarding to unveil and capture these narratives through my lens. I enjoy witnessing the transformation that occurs during a photoshoot, as my clients open up more and more.

If I can take a photo that makes somebody fall in love with themselves again, I’m super happy. That’s all I need.

 

sensual photography: portraits by sascha van der werf
Sensual photography by Sascha van der Werf.

 

What is your favourite thing to shoot?

When it comes to the subject matter, while I have a deep appreciation for all forms of photography, I find portrait photography particularly compelling. There’s an intimate, raw, and often profound exchange that takes place during a portrait session. It’s a symbiotic process where the subject entrusts me with their vulnerability, and in return, I strive to capture their essence in the most authentic, respectful, and beautiful way possible. This dynamic interplay of trust, expression, and creativity makes portrait photography my favourite thing to shoot.

I particularly love photographing the eyes- because eyes are never quiet, even when they’re empty, emptiness still speaks.

 

Even at my exhibitions displaying my sensual photography, I have to have conversations about what I can and can’t show in terms of nudity, which is sad, because why are we ashamed of our bodies- one of the purest parts of being human? Why are we ashamed of something beautiful?

 

How much importance do your photo captions hold to you?

I view captions as an integral part of my photography. They serve as gateways, guiding the viewer into the narrative encapsulated within each image. In a way, they’re akin to titles of a novel – providing a hint of the plot without revealing the whole story.

Each caption is thoughtfully crafted to resonate with the photograph, enhancing its impact and adding an additional layer of meaning. They’re not merely descriptors but are imbued with intent, designed to echo the essence of the image and stimulate the viewer’s imagination.

So yes, to me, captions are as pivotal as the ‘titles’ of works, playing a key role in shaping the viewer’s engagement with and interpretation of my photos. Actually, it takes a while sometimes for me to think of captions, so I have tons of photographs ready and waiting for captions.

 

I firmly believe that fostering a more sensual world is not only possible but desirable. I envision a society that encourages open-mindedness, self-expression, and acceptance. Shedding our inhibitions and embracing our sensuality could lead to a freer, more loving society.

 

What is your opinion on the increasing censorship of nudity on social media?

I believe that the conversation around nudity and censorship on platforms like Instagram is complex. On one hand, it’s important to have guidelines to prevent explicit or harmful content from circulating widely, especially considering these platforms are accessed by users of varied age groups and cultural backgrounds.

On the other hand, it becomes problematic when these policies limit artistic expression or the promotion of body positivity, as is often the case with tastefully rendered, artistic nudity. This can inadvertently contribute to body shaming and the propagation of narrow beauty standards.

As an artist making sensual photography, it’s challenging to balance the freedom of expression with these platform guidelines. It’s my hope that in the future, social media platforms can evolve a more nuanced approach, differentiating between explicit content and artistic or body-positive imagery, thereby providing a safer and more inclusive space for all users.

Even at my exhibitions displaying my sensual photography, I have to have conversations about what I can and can’t show in terms of nudity, which is sad, because why are we ashamed of our bodies- one of the purest parts of being human? Why are we ashamed of something beautiful?

sensual photography close up, sascha van der werf
Sensual photography by Sascha van der Werf.

Has your photography style evolved over time?

Absolutely and it has mirrored my own personal and artistic growth. I began with a broader, more colourful palette, exploring various techniques and themes. However, as I delved deeper into the craft, I realised my affinity for the authentic, intimate, and minimalistic.

I was drawn to the depth, emotion, and raw beauty that can be captured in a single frame with the absence of colour. Black and white photography became my preferred medium, adding a timeless quality to my work. This shift to monochrome has allowed me to focus more on the essence of my subjects, their emotions, and our shared connection, rather than getting lost in the distractions of colour.

So, my evolution has been a journey of stripping away the extraneous, both in terms of colour and composition, to arrive at a more intimate, authentic expression of my subjects. Each photograph I take now is a reflection of this evolved style – minimal yet powerful, monochromatic yet expressive, intimate yet universal.

 

Nun on nun; Sensual photography by Sascha van der Werf.
Sensual photography by Sascha van der Werf.

 

 

Do you think we live in a sensual society? 

In my perspective, we don’t live in a truly sensual society, at least not on a global scale. While certain pockets of the world might appear to be more open and free, it’s important to note that our world is extremely diverse and full of complex social dynamics. Indeed, with growing complexities and disparities, including religious, political, and cultural, there seems to be more division than unity in embracing sensuality.

Sadly, even though we’re living in an era that seems to be more liberal, much of this is a façade. In reality, many people still grapple with shame, fear, and societal norms that suppress their sensual selves.

I firmly believe that fostering a more sensual world is not only possible but desirable. I envision a society that encourages open-mindedness, self-expression, and acceptance. Shedding our inhibitions and embracing our sensuality could lead to a freer, more loving society. It is in celebrating our differences, understanding each other’s perspectives, and promoting love that we can truly make the world a more sensual place.

What would you like to see for a sensual photography section on Sensuali?

A space with diverse models: a platform that embraces all body types, ages, and backgrounds can truly embody the essence of sensuality. It’s not just about physical beauty but also about the story, the emotions, and the experiences the model brings.

An encouragement of a more collaborate approach to photography: more collabs, less “shoots”. It’s about creating and telling stories together.

A community: beyond bookings, the platform could facilitate connections between photographers and models, allowing for the exchange of ideas, advice, and experiences. This will encourage growth, innovation, and a sense of community.

Educational resources: as an evolving art form, sensual photography could benefit from workshops, tutorials, and discussions that hone skills and discuss the nuances of this genre.

A gallery for inspiration: a space where photographers can showcase their work, gain exposure, and inspire others.

An emphasis on safety and respect: Ensuring all members understand and adhere to professional standards and respect boundaries is crucial.

 

Check out Sascha’s sensual photography prints for sale. 

Discover more about Sascha’s sensual photography services

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Iso

Iso

Author

Iso is a writer and filmmaker based in East London. She is passionate about all things erotic and leads a sexy, shame-free life in hope that she can inspire others to do the same. Originally from a Northern seaside town, she is naturally drawn to the best things in life: candyfloss, trashy karaoke bars and heart-shaped sunglasses.


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