Many top photographers come to their calling via a combination of curiosity, exploration, and luck that turns a hobby into a career. There’s no plan, and the route to a life behind the lens is circuitous. Not so for Bruno Bisang.
Born and raised in a picturesque small town in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, Bisang attended photography school in Zurich. He then landed an apprenticeship before becoming a freelancer in 1979. “I was inspired by the Italian films of the ’50s,” he says. “One day I just said to myself, Let’s go and try.”
What followed was four decades of fruitful work in genres spanning beauty and fashion to automotive and portraits. Now in his mid-60s, Bisang has shot for magazines including Cosmopolitan and Photo and for brands such as Chanel, Givenchy, Ford, and Triumph. He has established a reputation as someone capable of sculpting any photographic project. But he’s best known for his portraits of models. “I like to work across a larger spectrum, but I’m faithful to images of sensuality…I love to photograph women.”
Though he has worked with some of the industry’s most celebrated models, Bisang is just as comfortable with unknown or up-and-coming subjects. “I have an image in my head [before the shoot], but I also allow space for improvisation,” he says. “I cultivate a set with relaxed music and an intimate atmosphere.”
Crucial to capturing a memorable image is a partnership and trust between photographer and model. “I believe respect for the model is everything, so I try to involve the model in the shoot as a partner,” Bisang says. He feels this not only puts the subject at ease but makes it easier for him to balance the need for sexuality with a desire to avoid gratuitous or objectifying images.
Bisang has spent nearly 40 years working his way to the top of his industry. But for a man with a plan, he takes a rather laissez-faire attitude toward his future subjects. “I have no idea,” he confesses. “I just follow what my inner voice says to me.”
Explore more of his best work, below.
Follow Bruno Bisang on Instagram for more of his sultriest shots.