“Sometimes I buy things that are so not me, but that I think are too beautiful to let go.” Aneta is referring to the three or four pairs of fall Prada shoes she bought spur of the moment back in the 90’s. The bottoms of the soles are spotless and the leather as shiny as back then. “I know it’s a total waste of money,” she shrugs. “I spent my whole paycheck on Prada, leaving myself willingly flat broke. And over the years, I had moments of insanity with Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton, and Alexander McQueen.” Aneta is not a big spender though. All the way through high school and college the only places she would shop were thrift stores, and not reluctantly, because they were the only places she could afford clothes that she actually liked. Her delicate features suggest a personal style that is pretty, fresh, sometimes romantic and always comfortably chic. She chooses pants over skirts, long over short, solid over prints and neutrals over color, but she’d never refuse to wear either.
Aneta Bartos is Polish. She moved to New York when she was 16-years old. She’s since had a love-hate relationship with the city. “When I’m here I want to go away, and when I’m away, I want to come back,” she says without making it sound like a complaint. “New York is a very intense, energized place, full of amazing chances!” Aneta is another grateful, self-made product of this great land of opportunity. Even though the road to her recent success as an art photographer was gradual and started with a series of English classes, she’s a sure thing. What began as a hobby lead to a position as the photo editor of A4 magazine, the first Polish fashion magazine sold in the States, and developed into a blossoming career that now allows her to solely concentrate on her personal projects, art commissions and exhibitions. Her subjects are girls with the quality of fallen angels, “kind of like Alice in Wonderland, where everything on the surface is beautiful and decadent but there is something tragic lurking beneath.” She calls it “darkly erotic”. Her most recent polaroid work caught the attention of Interview magazine which promptly devoted an entire page to her, however shied away from showing the actual photos with fear of being “too controversial”. Instead they published a beautiful, ethereal portrait of her shot by Craig McDean, one of her close friends. “I did not understand why they could not show male nudity in the magazine. I’ll just have to become a fervent feminist and stand up for all things nude!”
Last week’s shoot with Aneta was definitely the most rogue I ever did (besides the one where I snuck a camera into the pool area of the Beverly Hills Hotel…) I had a chronometered, measly two hours to spend with her because of my crazy show castings schedule. But to make matters worse, Aneta was under the impression that I would bring the vintage clothes to style her. When I showed up on her doorstep with just a camera in my hand and a big, nervous smile on my face, she was completely unprepared. After a few big laughs and deep breaths we sped through her closet like loony teenagers. We literally searched high and low for the best pieces. “I even keep clothes in my kitchen cabinets!” she laughed while climbing on the sink to reach for a pair of shoes on the top shelf. And somehow, as by magic, we managed to put together some of my favorite outfits to date and shot everything in less than 300 frames. And though she says she hates being in front of the camera, Aneta flipped from master to model faster than my shutter speed.