Fred Stauffer
All images: Rafael Moura

Fred Stauffer: “I don’t want to go bigger, I want to do better”

28 Nov 2022 | |By Luxury London

His portfolio includes Miu Miu, Prada, Disney and Gucci. So what’s next for one of the world’s most unique content creators? The only way is up

To say Stauffer took an unconventional route to what is one of the most coveted jobs in fashion would be an understatement. While many of the industry’s most celebrated creatives boast degrees from esteemed universities in Europe’s most influential cities, including Central Saint Martins, Polimoda, Institut Français de la Mode and the Royal Academy of Arts Antwerp, Stauffer spent his early twenties at De Montfort University in Leicester. In spite of his humble beginnings, he’s now one of the most sought-after videographers in the fashion industry having kickstarted his career on Instagram. 

What started out as a little fun during one of many international lockdowns has blossomed into a lucrative career for the Brazilian-born artist, who since his first commission from Uniqlo and the Louvre, has gone on to work with some of the biggest names in the game, including Gucci, Prada, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton. From creating a five-second visual illusion of himself divebombing into a pool (that garnered 2.4 million views on TikTok) to gaining full creative control of brands’ social channels, Stauffer’s trajectory is head-spinning. Olivier Leone, an art director who has worked on campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Sonia Rykiel and Casablanca, stated he has a unique ability to “create bridges between generations”. 

A quick scroll through Stauffer’s Instagram gives just a taste of all the glamorous locales the young creative is lucky enough to call his office. From New York and LA to Rio de Janeiro, St Tropez and Cannes, when he isn’t busy working with Prada in Paris, Stauffer is constantly on the move. In between his creative consultations with brands and shooting campaigns, Stauffer sat down to discuss his life behind the lens, what inspires him and his hopes for the future. 

How did you get started in videography?

It wasn’t until I moved to the UK that I started playing with camera editing and doing some videos. Someone from De Montfort came to my class and spoke about the different courses they did. I saw images of green screens and TV studios and thought, “Okay, this is really cool”. I wasn’t thinking about it as a job, I just thought it was something fun to do and why not? We’re young. We have to try. Luckily my parents were just like, “Alright, go ahead”.

My plan was actually to be a cinematographer and Steadicam operator, working in big movies. I thought I would get out of uni, start working and save every single dollar to pay for cinema school. I had this whole calculation in my head. It’s crazy how sometimes we plan things that end up being something totally different.

What have been your most exciting projects so far?

Shooting for the Met Gala for Louis Vuitton; it was really cool in a lot of aspects because I was directing real actors. Louis Vuitton just trusted my concept. That was crazy for me.

The team at Prada and Miu Miu also has good synergy. We understand each other. I present the ideas, we know how each other work and it’s always super organised. The shows are always so cool;  it’s really exciting to be working with them.

I also just completed a project with Disney that was something completely different to anything I’ve done in fashion. My brief was to try to make people want to watch the show by showing these cool videos with the characters. I went to LA and was actually shooting in the Disney Studios, which is insane.

When I have carte blanche and can do whatever I want, it’s just the best. I feel very grateful that these big brands trust me. I do my best work when I’m free to just go crazy and do whatever comes into my mind.

Fred Stauffer
How did it feel when those big brands started approaching you?

I always try to keep my feet on the ground and remind myself that it’s a cool brand, but it’s also just a job. I have to do it as I do everything. It’s cool that I’m going to travel but sometimes I also say to myself that this is not normal and it’s a privilege to be able to be working in this situation. I love it and I appreciate it but I don’t let it go to my head.

Luxury brands are notoriously exacting. Is it hard to relinquish control when you’ve got such a specific signature style?

Yes, but the editing is always done by me. The shooting part is sometimes the quickest and simplest part. Sometimes I shoot for 10 minutes, but it’s going to take eight hours to edit into a five second clip.

Sometimes I shoot for 10 minutes, but it’s going to take eight hours to edit and then it’s just a five second clip

Fred Stauffer
Where’s the coolest place your work has taken you?

Lately, I would say Scotland. St Andrews is just amazing, and I got so lucky, I was there for four sunny days. It was incredible and really pretty.

Who do who you look up to or admire?

I started making all of these videos because of Zach King. He started out on Vine, so he’s been in the game for a long time and is just on another level. Watching his work was fun and I wanted to try to make something fun as well. I like to think of it as making magic with videos, because I always loved magic.

Fred Stauffer
How would you describe your style?

Unexpected and a little bit magical. There is always a sense of magic – a little trick, a little thought, an illusion.

What would you love to do next?

Shooting something that is physically bigger than what I’m doing. For example, putting my spin on screens at airports or animated digital billboards.

I’m a photographer first but people don’t call me to work as a photographer, they know other photographers, they call me for my videos

Fred Stauffer
Is there a dream brand you want to work with?

It was actually Prada. I’m very lucky to have worked with one of my favourite brands, and it was one of the first I started working with. Also Google. I love Google and everything that they do.

What do you think luxury brands can do to cut through the noise on social media?

Be open to new ways to communicate. Most big brands do their campaigns in the same way, [like] taking pictures to put on billboards or making TV commercials. But why TV commercials? Do you watch TV? I don’t. I watch Netflix on my TV but there are no commercials.

Some of them are already. Prada started its TikTok at a time when people were saying TikTok was not the app for fashion brands but now they’re communicating to billions of people on that platform every day.

What's the biggest learning curve you've had in your career so far?

Dealing with stress. At the beginning, I would often be so stressed and nervous on set that I couldn’t eat. Now I will be walking through the set and feel good because I know what I’m here for and what I’m doing, so there’s no reason to be stressed. I do a lot of prep before [each shoot], I know exactly what I’m shooting and the margin for error is so small that it makes me do well.

What's the five-year plan?

Firstly, find a better working space and have a proper photo studio. I want to take photos again. I’m a photographer first but people don’t call me to work as a photographer, they know other photographers, they call me for my videos. Maybe I’ll bring in more people eventually – if I feel I’ve found the right person – but I don’t want to necessarily go bigger, I want to do better.

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