‘Faceless pictures are like cars without wheels’

There is a pile of clothes on my chair. Clothes racks stand in between computers and studiosettings. Shoes lay everywhere. I hear a Spanish song in the background. It sounds familiar, but I can not remember where I heard it before. “Frontal, side, detalles, back y next”, says the photographer in Spanglish (a mix of Spanish and English). “This one is nice! Too bad they cut off your face in the pictures.” 

Too far away
Stradivarius is the only brand of Inditex which does not use the faces of the models in the pictures online. Other Inditex brands like Zara, Bershka, Oysho and a lot more do show the faces. Presenting the fashion on the webshop is called e-commerce.

“In my opinion, we are shooting like this for different reasons”, tells Stradivarius photographer Karl Mittenhof (35). Mittenhof is his nickname, he does not want to be mentioned by his real name. “But I think the main reason is because the company is very far away from Barcelona. It is a bit more than an hour by car.” Karl thinks it is hard to keep a steady and permanent flow of models, make-up artists, hair dressers, stylists and photographers because of the travelling time. “The company probably chose this option instead of risking the continuity of the daily work and be unsatisfied with results.”


It is all about the…
Now I hear a song coming up in my head: “It is all about the money. It is all about the…” Of course, the reason Karl gives plays a part. But I think the main reason is that it is just cheaper for the company. If the company would use the faces of the models in the pictures on their website, the models should get paid more. The company also has to pay for a make-up artist and a hair dresser. Nowadays, the models at Stradivarius straighten their own hair and have no make-up on (if they do want to use make-up there is a box with a lot of make-up products from Kiko which they can use).

From my personal experience I know Stradivarius pays less for e-commerce than other companies because I worked for Bershka as well and they paid me double the rate. Besides, I heard a lot of models complaining about the money they earn at Stradivarius. They do the same work, make the same long days as in other companies but get paid less and can not use the faceless photos for their portfolio.


Times are changing
Not only the models are disappointed that the photos are used like this. “It is frustrating because we get very good pictures but no one can use them. It is useless for the models, stylists and photographers. Having pictures of people without a face… It is like a car without wheels”, tells the 35-year old photographer. However, it has not always been like this. When the company launched the e-commerce area (around 2006) the model’s faces were showed at the website. Karl does not know how long this has been taken place. Times seem to be changing again. At the moment, the whole team is fighting against the incomplete pictures.

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