Proof positive

A shoulder injury put paid to Oliver Malicdem’s breakdancing career, but where one door closed another one opened

Photography and breakdancing might not seem like natural bedfellows, but as friendly and sparky Swiss photographer Oliver Malicdem proves, they have much more in common than one might first realise.

“I love to use the poses, feelings and power of dance in my work. I learnt a lot about body language and attitude in my career as a breakdancer, which I use when I shoot and compose images,” Oliver explains. A shoulder injury in 2010 when Oliver was 21 (followed by another one in 2018) put paid to his professional breakdancing career – although he does still practice about once a week – but meant that he could concentrate on his other great love, photography. Oliver’s upbeat positive attitude meant that rather than feel sorry for himself, as many in that situation would, he used the time he spent recovering from his first injury to improve his camera skills.

“It was hard, but it meant that I could put all my energy into my photography. It meant I learnt a lot, as I had the time to,” he says. “I felt like I was lucky to have those 12 months. I mean, it was obviously also a bad time and I was in lots of pain, but I think that from every bad experience something good can also happen.”

It’s fair to say that Oliver always seems able to find a silver lining. His work spans the worlds of art, fashion and, more recently, weddings. But his career started with a focus on art.

“When I got my first DSLR it was just for fun, but it wasn’t long before I realised that it would be my future career,” he says. “The first photographs I took were very arty. I was inspired by two friends from Berlin, who were also dancers, although they worked more in the theatre world. They were very creative and influenced me in so many different ways: in regards to new music, new dance styles and new photography. I’d say it’s quite different to my work now. I was trying to convey something very deep with the artistic images that I took. I still love my first work though, even though I don’t work in that style anymore – maybe I will again in the future, when I have the time to update my portfolio!”

Like many in his line of work, when Oliver was starting out he tried lots of different types of photography and took on every job that he could. “And that included a wedding for a friend,” he says. “I loved it, it was so much fun. So, after that I started to focus on weddings during the spring and summer and art and fashion in the autumn and winter.”

Despite the similarity in how Oliver uses his dancing to influence different styles of photography that’s pretty much where the similarity ends: “In my art and fashion work, I usually have a brief, and I then create and direct the whole concept. I’m also influenced by architecture in my art and fashion photography – I love using abstract movement in my shots. However, in the wedding work, it’s important to understand what the clients’ want first and foremost, so that tends to be a combination of my style, but also something that makes them happy.”

Oliver has also set up an agency called Content Creators, which he started two years ago with a friend. Based in Zurich but working with clients all over Switzerland, his business partner takes care of video, while Oliver concentrates on the still side of things. “Obviously over the last year we had a lot of time to search for and move into a studio to move all our things together. So that was a good thing to come out of the pandemic!” he says. That silver linings viewpoint in evidence again.

And, of course, Oliver is excited about what the switch to mirrorless will mean for his photography.

“I still love the mechanic work in a DSLR Camera, but I’m here for the revolution; the results are amazing with both systems. This year will be my first wedding season with the Z 7II. I think the autofocus and the low light range will give me more options during my shoots. I’ve worked with several Z 7s and I found the small, compact size make it ideal for travelling and the silent mode option is brilliant, too.” In fact, it’s the size that Oliver admits is the “biggest point of change” for him. He reserves praise for mirrorless video too: “I’ve used mirrorless video, although not professionally. I use the Z 5 or Z 7II with the 50mm 1.4 and 24-50mm with a Gimbal for smoother movements.”

So, along with art, fashion and wedding photography, dancing, work an influencer and having his own agency is there anything else Oliver would like to achieve?

“At the moment I’m really happy with my mix of art/fashion, corporate and weddings. But of course, I’m open for new types. I mean, photography is evolving and so am I…”

oliver malicdem


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Z 5

NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2

A shot from a collection Oliver worked on for a jewellery and luxury nightwear brand

D5 AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm 2.8G

The versatility of the 24-70mm lens is used to great effect for this busy image

D5 AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm 2.8G

“Each of the models was a dancer in this fashion campaign I did for Hanimanns”

D5 AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm 2.8G

A snapshot from the campaign Oliver worked on for Swiss clothing brand, Savoye

AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm, 2.8G4

Another striking image from Oliver’s Hanimanns campaign, a fashion agency for African designers, which exports products to Europe

D5 AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm 2.8G