While it might not be the first thing that comes to mind in this context, Californian SKYY Vodka has always been a proud supporter of particular social causes, such as marriage equality in the USA. This year, the liquor company is planning to shed a light onto nightlife and diversity. To start off what is to become a long line of different creative approaches to this project, SKYY teamed up with Berlin-based photographer Vitali Gelwich and had him photograph some of the city’s art and nightlife scene’s brightest stars. In celebration of SKYY Vodka’s DIVERSITY campaign, the photographer Vitali Gelwich not only created intimate portraits for an exhibition taking place in Berlin, but he also talked about what diversity means to him and where his muses fit in.

The SKYY-DIVERSITY-campaign allowed you to photograph people taken from your personal environment, entirely independent from their cultural, sexual or religious background – what was it, though, that convinced you to participate in this project?
Vitali Gelwich:
What I liked about this campaign is that I was given total creative freedom. So, I chose to give the hard working individuals that are often in the background, dealing with everything going on behind the camera, a face. I found it important to give them some sort of platform and cherish them for their accomplishments. Of course, having to work with so many different characters was quite challenging. But it was worth it.

What does “Diversity” mean to you?
Diversity, to me, is thinking outside of the box. It’s respect and love for one another. Nobody’s perfect, but humanity can get a lot closer to perfection by starting to love and appreciate diversity. It’s give and take.

How relevant, or present, is diversity in your day-to-day life?
I’m surrounded by it constantly. It’s inevitable. Everyone’s different. Finding certain similiarites, connecting things or people, as oppose to differentiating and labeling them, is my job as a photographer. Without diversity, none of this would be any fun at all. I don’t like just travelling in the same direction all the time. Sometimes deotours are so much more enjoyable.

However, the people on the photographs: Who are they and what do they do?

DIVERSITY BY VITALY GELWICH SKYY VODKA BERLIN NIGHTLIFE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
Fahrani Empel is a fashion designer, model, actress and musician. Her style of clothing, tattoos and buzzcut-hair style visually distinguish her from her peers. She expresses her inner self through appearance. What some may find provocative, others find inspiring.

 

Jasmin Golic, aka Young Krillin, has been dependent on his wheelchair all of his life. This, however, never stopped the Salzburg-native from chasing his dreams and becoming a rapper and producer. He has made a name for himself and is best known in the Cloud Rap scene amongst fellow artist Yung Hurn.

 

DIVERSITY BY VITALY GELWICH SKYY VODKA BERLIN NIGHTLIFE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
Brothers Huy and Dung Vu are more than multitalented. They started as bartenders, established their own menswear label and are now proud owners of their own restaurant. Based on their father’s mantra ‘Do your own thing’, they have worked passed stereotypes and prejudice to achieve their goals.

 

DIVERSITY BY VITALY GELWICH SKYY VODKA BERLIN NIGHTLIFE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
There is no nightlife-scene without Michail Stangl. He organizes and curates Berlin’s annual CTM Festival and aspires to form a more free, more tolerant music scene without barriers.

 

DIVERSITY BY VITALY GELWICH SKYY VODKA BERLIN NIGHTLIFE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
Bahar Kygsz is a model and a photographer. After graduatiing from Berlin’s Ostkreuzschule for Photography, Bahar has processed her own stances towards social-political topics, such as immigration, throughout her work.

 

DIVERSITY BY VITALY GELWICH SKYY VODKA BERLIN NIGHTLIFE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
The young Swedish DJane Linnea quickly rose to fame in Berlin’s LGBTQ-club scene. She hosts recurring events to bring people together and celebrate diversity.

 

DIVERSITY BY VITALY GELWICH SKYY VODKA BERLIN NIGHTLIFE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
Jakob Preischl is film maker and co-founder of production company BWGTBLD. He and his team constantly create highest quality film material. Authentic, personal, unconventional, unpredictable and progressive.

 

DIVERSITY BY VITALY GELWICH SKYY VODKA BERLIN NIGHTLIFE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
DJ, Stylist, Editor: Mastermind Lee Stuart and his music are favorites, from Amsterdam to Berlin. Eventhough the creative and nightlife scenes are both very tolerant, Lee, too, has been approached with racism. Still, he does not shy away from doing what he does best and praising diversity.

 

DIVERSITY BY VITALY GELWICH SKYY VODKA BERLIN NIGHTLIFE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
Don’t be fooled by their young age. Markus and Michael Weicker are stand-alone talents of the German music industry. The twins enjoy a seemingly endless hype that surrounds their artistry and have produced award-winning videos for RIN, GENETIKK and Kollegah.