Frequently Asked Questions?
For some time I thought about a section for this website dedicated to my workflow. Because many people kept asking over the years what I do, how I take my photographs, how I retouch, what gear I use and so on. But then I saw a presentation by Studio Pandan. They made a whole presentation out of their FAQ which seemed a great idea. I will add more questions and answers over time. For now, let’s start …
Are you employed or do you work as a freelancer?
In 2013 I decided to work as a full-time photographer and retoucher on a freelance base. It’s not a hobby. It’s a job. And I really like what I am allowed to do every day.
Photographer is not a real job‽
“Photography? That's easy. All you have to do is push the button.”, This is a usual response when people learn what I do for a living. In addition I am often called an artist ...
Is photography an art form?
It depends on how you see yourself and your work. In my opinion I am not an artist. What I offer is a service. Normally when someone tells me about a project they already know what they want but usually they don't know how to get it. Together with my clients I try to solve those photographic problems. Whether it is a whole photo session or retouching of already existing photographs.
I don’t work in a vacuum. My daily work is characterised by constraints and limits. Limits like time, budget, and resources. If I were an artist, I wouldn't have to pay attention to that. Then I would take pink and blue photos with my Polaroid every day. No matter if there is a demand for it.
Are you interested in analog film photography?
Yes, partly. I took and developed analog film myself but nowadays I am 100% focused on digital imagery. Despite that from time to time I play around with Polaroids. But this is just a hobby.
Do you manipulate/ retouch your photographs?
Yes, I do. We all have viewing habits. Also there is a difference in looking at someone face to face or at a photograph. The perception is totally different. You see more details, you pay much more attention to flaws, blemeshes, spots, wrinkles, dark under-eyes, you name it. In addition a camera gives its own interpretation of the real world that mostly is not the result you would expect and – more importantly – accept. Retouching helps to correct this.
Long story short: I match perception and reality.
C’mon, a bit of contrast and brightness is all you have to fix, isn’t it?
Very often the photograph that looks completely average is the one I have put a disproportional amount of work into it. Normally a lot of tweaking goes into perfecting my photos. Currently I use Phase One’s Capture One and Adobe Photoshop.
Why do you use Photoshop?
Because I earn my money with it. Over the years I invested thousands of hours into training my skills and I got used to it. I customised the whole experience including Photoshop’s shortcuts; don’t underestimate the value of muscle memory here. Plugins and actions speed up everything I do on a daily base.
Of course I am aware of “alternatives” like Affinity Photo. For a lot of people and a lot of easy tasks it’s quite all right. But 30 years of expertise in photo manipulation is hard to match and I have to admit: I ♥ Ps. It’s great. It’s overwhelming, confusing, and at the same time extremely fun to use. The first version I ever started was 5.5 and it got me right away. I get kicks out of pushing around pixels in it. Saving a final™ Photoshop document is a very rewarding moment.
Another very important factor is compatibility of workflows. You may heard of Photoshop as a de facto standard. But what does it mean? Over the last three decades a lot of people in the creative industry agreed on standards, e.g. Photoshop. When I have a .PSD file with dozens of layers, smart objects, and filters applied it’s important that my clients can rely on it. They don’t need to convert it to other formats; the workflow is seamless. That saves everyone a lot of time and money.
It seems you take a lot of photos in and for the type scene, right?
It depends on the perspective. From within the scene it may look I am only taking photographs of type designers, studios, and so on. For me it’s just a small fraction of my time. And no, I am not employed by Monotype. It’s a client like many others, too. I just really like all things type.