Photography Training, Tutorials, Interview and Reviews
Alexander has such a diverse portfolio on 500px (which is where I found him). He actually works for a gaming company and I think you can see that coming through in his style of photography. Definitely worth a look, who knows something you lover or do regularly might be able to influence your own photography style.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am from a picturesque small town in Bavaria, Germany with lots of great landscape to take photos of, however my main interest back then was more computer oriented, which led me from programming to web design to language and literature studies, theater and finally the gaming industry in France, where I am currently working for a major gaming company.
What inspired you to get started in photography?
One small day back in the 90s I picked up a “Foto Creativ” magazine and soon after I had a Canon EOS 650 with a kit lens to play around with, I never really focussed on photography though until two decades later in December 2008 when I bought my first digital camera, an EOS 50D and the 50mm f1.4 and I really started to shoot a lot and haven’t stopped shooting since and my camera is now with me every day. I take inspiration from everything and everyone around me, not so much from established photographers though and it may not really help you to find your own style to concern yourself too much with the “masters”. Intertextually speaking we all just copy each other anyway, even without having seen each others work but that is a topic for another interview.
What gear do you take to each shoot and what lens can you not live without?
Canon EOS 50D
EF 35mm 1.4 L
EF 50mm 1.4
EF 24-105mm 4 L
EF 100mm Macro 2.8 L
B+W UV0 XS-Pro Line Filters for all of the lenses (but I stopped using any UV0 recently).
B+W Polarizer 77mm
B+W ND10 77mm
Manfrotto Tripod 190 XBPRO with Standard Ballhead
Lastolite TriGrip Reflectors (very handy for portraits -> http://www.flickr.com/photos/ihad/6655724045/in/photostream/lightbox/ shot with the gold surface reflector, re-directing sunlight on her face)
Lastolite EzBalace Greycard (also very handy)
Haehnel Pro Remote
Lowepro Vertex 200AW (fits all of the above and more, tripod attached outside)
The 35mm 1.4L is my favorite lens and always with me.
How do you market yourself and has social media been an important part?
Local exhibitions have proven to be much more effective for sales than the internet, mostly because the internet is overflowing with content and you are just a tiny speck amidst an endless flood of images. Still, I have accounts for all social medias that have or do still exist to date. I do not have the time though to update all those constantly and I mainly focus on flickr, twitter, tumblr and facebook and my own blog and 500px from time to time. Presenting your work through social media is necessary but can be more of a time sink than helpful in marketing yourself. Try and reach out to local institutions, clubs, magazines, exhibitions, galleries and such, as well.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve taken and does it have any significance?
Street Photography is near and dear to me and I sadly don’t do as much of it as I would like. “The Departed Man” is one of my favorite street shots, mainly because for me it is a timeless, decisive moment (yes, Henri Cartier-Bresson coined that term…) capturing the essence of the scene so that the photograph speaks to the viewer, the message may vary but there is a dialogue and you can come back to the photograph, time and again.
Select a photo you have taken, explain how it was taken and how did you edit it?
I normally do not edit my photos, I shoot in RAW and then I develop them in Lightroom, as you would do in a darkroom. If you look at what Ansel Adams did with his black and white landscapes, it’s a creative process, developing the image so it matches your vision. When people say “edit” they not always have the same idea of what it actually entails.
Let’s take a look at “Into the woods” taken on a misty grey winter morning. All I did was pick an orange tone for the highlights in the Split Toning Panel of Lightroom and played with Hue and Saturation until I was satisfied with the color tone of the mist, giving the whole image a warm glow rather than the initial bland grey look. I was on a photo walk with a fellow photographer who basically is just beneath the frame, I aimed above his head, using the two trees as natural framing left and right. I had Thoreau in mind when I saw the image I was about to create, hence the title. Most if not all of my photos are neither cropped nor rotated, I believe there are no shortcuts for proper composition, you have to get it right, right there and then. Of course, sometimes you do not have that luxury so you will have to crop or rotate after the fact.
What processing tool do you use and do you believe in the camera doing all the work or in post?
The camera is just a tool, it takes/captures a photograph and the photographer creates it. The camera is part of the process, so are chemicals and the type of paper you choose when developing your film black and white prints which I did. These days, I do it digitally but it’s the same principle. I do not believe in SOOC but rather creating the image I envisioned when looking through the viewfinder. Adobe Lightroom offers a good basis for developing your shots (90% of the time it’s all I am using) paired with other tools such as Niksoft Silver Efex Pro for Black and White and Color Efex Pro for color work and Photomatix Pro for the occasional HDR and Photoshop only when I want to do more excessive photo manipulation
Whats your favourite photography accessory other than your camera?
B+W ND10 – This filter is a lot of fun and +10 f/stops makes for some very crazy daylight long exposures. Check out “Skyrock” http://www.flickr.com/photos/ihad/5624451001/in/set-72157625244904994/ (interview: http://www.photogrill.com/archives/375)
Where do you prefer to post your photos online and why there?
I start with flickr and automatically populate the rest of the bunch via links to flickr (e.g. twitter, tumblr, google+, facebook). I also use 500px from time to time. Maximize exposure but be careful and conscious about usage/distribution rights, esp. if you want to license your photos through e.g. Getty, which I do for some of mine.
Do you ever get photographers block and if so what do you do to get inspired again?
I get “I don’t have time to go shoot and it irritates me” syndrome… I usually am always looking for the next shot, even when I am not holding a camera, you look at things, see things and take a mental image, come back some other day maybe or wait for better light, once a photographer, always a photographer, you need to get into that mindset if you want to unblock/unlock your full potential. You do that and you can get inspiration from just about anything anywhere at anytime and of course that great moment will come and you won’t have your camera with you, like that day I was on the bus a couple of years back and there was this small church on the other side, a black limo just parked in front, the end of a black coffin in the back sticking out of the trunk, reflecting sunlight from it’s silver handles, teasing me and two guys standing next to it, waiting, smoking, laughing, making jokes while the grieving family just exits the church behind them. Perfect. I could paint you a picture, that image is forever in my mind. Morale: Never leave home without your camera! Even if you think you are blocked or don’t have time.
Is there anything you wish you had done when you first started in photography that would have made a difference?
I wish I would have started earlier than December 2008 but then again better late than never!