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Sophie Ebrard, the wanderlust photographer

27 September 2016



1. Tell us a bit about your upbringing in the French Alps. Was it there that you first picked up a camera ? 

I was raised in a tiny village right at the base of the Alps. Growing up, art was not something I was exposed to: both of my parents were pilots and the Internet, as we know it today, did not exist at the time. However my dad was a keen photographer, which influenced my interest in creativity. I spent a lot of my time drawing and I had a point and shoot camera in my hand constantly. 

When it came to deciding what to study, as much as I loved art, it didn’t seem right to go to art school. I was not sure what I wanted to do, so I went to business school instead because it felt like the “responsible” thing to do. Shortly after graduation, I went into advertising and became an account manager for some of the top agencies in Europe.

Advertising was great in the beginning. It seemed to partly fulfill me creatively. Over the years, the work evolved, the industry changed, and projects became more global and political, and less creative. The last job I worked on included launching a huge, 97-country campaign for a global account. A work that was not a bit creative. This was far from why I had started working in the business, so I kind of had a nervous breakdown!

" When you work hard on something you love, it doesn’t matter how much you work; when every single thing you do makes you say, “Ugh, I hate this,” it starts to wear on you. I realized at that point that I needed a big change. That’s when I decided to become a full time photographer."

I like to say that on the 6th January 2010, I became a photographer. Because that’s what happened! From that day onwards, I decided that when people would ask me what I do, I would say, “I am a photographer” even though at the beginning it was not entirely true. But I thought I just had to believe it myself first for people to believe in me.

2. How important is travel to your practice of photography? Do you have a certain destination that particularly fed you with creative inspiration ?

" Travelling is key to my well-being. I have realized I cannot stay more than 3 weeks in the same country before I go crazy. I need to travel and meet people to keep being inspired. "

I currently live between Amsterdam and London. The constant change of city really helps me with inspiration. London is where I feel the most excited, and then I go back to Amsterdam to put all the pieces together and edit my work.

As places to shoot, I would say Cape Verde has been a destination I am always drawn to. I have been going there for the past 12 years to an island called Sal. A vast majority of my portfolio has been shot there. I just love the people, the light…it really inspires me! Every single series I shot there is completely different from the other. There are so many things to shoot. That’s what I love about the island.

3. Is there any place in the world still at the top of your to-do list ? 

Japan! I’ve never been and I am really dying to go.

I am trying to exhibit “Its Just Love” there during the beginning of next year. It’s hard as it is so remote and a very different culture but hopefully it can work out. Wish me luck!

4. Let’s talk about your “It’s Just Love” series where you captured segments from the pornography industry. What was the aim of this project ?

“Its Just Love” is a study of the porn industry. To humanize the individuals in front of the lens and show a lighter side within the industry, I followed porn director Gazzman for the past four years on his sets around the world.

The results are no ordinary erotic images, in fact there’s very little sexual gratification in them.

“It’s Just Love” is both a study of composition and of the human relation to the industry of sex. It is porn turned on its head in a blaze of long shots, private moments and elegant compositions.

I used medium format analogue film to catch those unguarded and most human of moments. An interaction between a number of like-minded people; a means to making a living and an enjoyable profession just like any other.

I exhibited “Its Just Love” at last year’s Unseen Photo Fair, the international photography festival held in Amsterdam. I decided to hold the exhibition in my own home to emphasize the duality of personal intimacy and external presentation. Porn never leaves the house - it is mostly consumed at home, which made it the ideal location for the exhibition. The series was curated by Roderick van der Lee, co-founder and board member of the Unseen Photo Fair.

5. What was the most interesting response you received from your viewers ?

“Its Just Love” was my first solo exhibition. As my curator pointed our, most people start their first solo show with a few images in a white space. I did the opposite! The exhibition was an experience with set design, moving image, a curated playlist, sound, quotes from the actors….

" It’s been absolutely amazing to see people looking at the work and enjoying it so much. The “Its Just Love” exhibition was very personal, also due to the fact that it was set in my own house. I intended people to feel at ease when looking at the work and experiencing a bit of me at the same time. "

One viewer wrote on the book:

 “Sensual, funny and fresh! Super well done. Pictures and space, music and furniture, food and dresses…everything is in one flow! Thanks for these 4 years of porno”.

That’s a good way of summarizing what I wanted him to experience.

6. If you had to pick only one of your projects, which one would be your favourite to date and why ?

“Its Just Love” is the project I am the most proud of.

It’s been a great success: we’ve had articles all over the world (even last week in Korea) in very respected publications. I couldn’t be happier about the success.

The objective now is for it to tour around the world. (Japan first, then other cities).


7. What was the most challenging commissioned project you have ever done and which one was the most successful in your eyes ?


I would say shooting the Adidas campaign created to launch Adidas MiCoach Personal Trainer is probably the most challenging project I have shot so far.

It was an unusual choice of photographer from Creative Director, Simon Schmitt (former Creative Director at Sidlee, now Creative Director at 72 and Sunny Amsterdam). He wanted the image to look natural, absolutely not CGI. He liked the authenticity and the realness in my work. We worked with a special effects company and found ways to create the smoke that would look natural. 

I usually don’t retouch my images heavily (mostly color balance) so it was unusual and exciting for me to work so much on an image alongside with the retoucher. I had managed to learn a lot technically as I can say no-one had a clue on how to create this series of images at first! It was a big challenge.

So I’m really proud of this campaign as I love the final images. Also I love the fact that they feel so different from the rest of my work. 

So to answer to your second question, more than a singular campaign, I would say, that I am proud of the body of work I have created whilst shooting commissioned work. For me the campaign I shot for Rolex or Stella Artois or HSBC does not feel different from my personal work. Those are still very much my DNA: images drenched with natural light, intimacy and beauty. Filled with movement and energy with a cinematic feel, each stills containing a story.

8. What are some of your sources of inspiration ? 

Travelling and meeting new people. Trying to be open to the world and surrounding myself with like-minded people.

9. What are you currently working on ? 

I am always working on new personal series. For the last one, I spent a week hanging out with 5 basketball players in an Airbnb in Harlem, NYC. 

Some of the images were released as a preview on WeTransfer this summer.

" I love immersing myself creatively in worlds I knows nothing about and work out how to earn the trust of my subjects. I feel like being a chameleon, adapting to my surroundings. This is what I love doing the most. "

It’s quite therapeutic in a way because you forget about your own world and see things very differently. The more remote it is from me, the more pleasure I take; and the better I am at capturing the beauty in what I see.

What’s next? A new series where I can immerse myself again in a world I know nothing about and try to capture the beauty in it. I’m still defining the idea as we speak. 


Innovative Advertising: creating alternative worlds. An interview with Joseph Ford

20 September 2016



1. Joseph, when did you get started in photography? Do you have any formal training ?

I got into photography through a friend while I was studying languages at university. I finished my degree them promptly moved to Paris to become a photographer. I had no formal training, but I spent several years assisting various advertising and fine art photographers.

2. What would you say makes your photography distinctive ?

My way of creating a narrative. There are two main strands to my work - people in situations, and diptychs linking landscapes with products. Both tell a story and depict an alternative world, whether that be a world where a man wears a jumper that blends in with the seat of a bus, or one where a railway becomes a zipper or a busy roundabout becomes a watch:

3. What do you love most about your job ?

Hard to pick just one. The best thing is being able to turn my imagination into images,

" but I also love the variety: travelling around the world and working with people with an amazing range of unique skills; from those who can knit a jumper that matches a wall, to the free diver who can swim at depths I need scuba gear to go to. "

4. You feature a lot of live animals in your shoots. Which one was the most difficult to handle and what advise would you give to any photographer looking to feature animals in their shoot ?

I’ve done a couple of particularly challenging animal shoots. The first was getting a live butterfly to fly out of a model’s mouth. We had a large number of butterflies, and had to sort through to find the ones that were small enough to fit in the mouth but big and bright enough to be clearly visible as they flew out. We had to swab the model’s mouth dry before each take to stop the butterfly’s wings sticking to his cheeks, and it took 73 takes to get the perfect shot:

The second was trying to get a live cobra to strike a Nike sneaker. The animal handler’s comment on these snakes was ‘There are two things to remember about cobras. Firstly: if they get angry, they’ll try to kill you. Secondly: they are always angry’. The danger factor obviously made the shoot more complicated. 

The best advice I can give would be to work with a good animal handler and make sure you have plenty of spare time in case everything doesn’t go smoothly. 


5. Do you coach or talk your subjects through the expressions they will be making? Or do you prefer to capture a spontaneous expression ?

A mixture of the two. It’s difficult to make a face on cue, and spontaneous expressions always look more natural, so I tend to try to put my models in the right mood for making the appropriate expression. I often have an aching face at the end of a shoot as I tend to mimic the sort of expression I’m looking for. If I want happiness, I’ll smile and if I want shock, I’ll get someone to surprise the model.

" I like to work with actors, as they are very versatile when it comes to expressing emotion, but it’s also down to making a personal connection with the model and finding a way of inspiring the expression you want. "

6. Which was the most challenging assignment you ever done and which assignment are you most proud of ?

I have had a lot of jobs that have been challenging in various ways - shooting underwater, whilst abseiling, with dangerous animals etc., but one of the trickiest was shooting this campaign for Lacoste. It was already complicated because we were shooting to a tethered laptop from a moving helicopter on a very windy day, but everything was going smoothly until a sudden gust of wind blew a contact lens out of my focusing eye. I had to do the rest of the shoot with my left eye, which was a lot harder than it sounds. When I’m shooting aerials I’m used to composing with my right eye while I look out for other things to photograph with my left eye, and coming down to a single effective eye was very challenging. 

It’s hard to pick a single assignment I’m most proud of - I like different shots for different reasons - but I’m very pleased with this shoot I did recently for Avaunt magazine, where we took a disused swimming pool in Glasgow, spent 2 days installing an anamorphic tennis court made from 2.5km of gaffer tape, then shot parkour athletes playing tennis in it. It was a big challenge, both technically and logistically, and I like the images. 

7.   Do you have any special project that you are working on at this time ?

Several, but nothing I can talk about until they’re completed! 

8.   Given the opportunity, do tell our readers of the potential pitfalls of photography.

The main danger is that you become obsessed and devote your entire life to it. More seriously, I feel very lucky to be able to be a photographer. It gives me wonderful opportunities and immense satisfaction. 



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AOP Photographer Charlie Clift talks personal projects, passion and the importance of being persistent



1. Charlie, what motivates you to take photographs ? 

Photography is all about people for me and what makes people so interesting is their stories.

I think humans are natural storytellers and we all love a good story. The idea of telling a story through a photograph is always appealing and this is probably my primary motivation.

Curiosity also motivates me; my work gives me access to people, allows me to become a part of their lives for a moment. It allows me to experience their story for a moment and I can then retell it within a single image. 

On a more basic note, I cannot stay away from that adrenaline rush a good shoot gives me. That is definitely a motivation as well.

2. What would you say makes your photography distinctive ? 

I think each photographer incorporates their personality into their work, even if only subconsciously. So I guess what makes my work distinctive is my personality. Style is of course something you can work on, but ultimately your own “eye” and personality will always show.

I get on with people easily and I think this shows - I seem to be able to get my sitters to do things in front of the lens that they would not do for others. Pulling a senior civil servant in a wooden cart down the streets of London, putting a latex shark mask on a top lawyer - " I like my photos not to be too obvious; I like them to have a sense of fun. "

3. You seem to create personal projects often. How important is it for any photographer to have ongoing personal projects ?

Essential! Without creating personal projects, I would not be able to push my own boundaries. Working to a brief that someone else sets for you is fun and challenging, but being able to produce work just for yourself is a unique form of freedom.

A personal project should be your ultimate commission.  If you could do anything with a camera what would it be? Working to create a body of work for a project really gives you the time and conditions to experiment with new approaches, new ways of working.

" My Brits in Europe for instance, involved photographing over 70 portraits in 7 different EU countries across a huge variety of locations. No one would ever have commissioned me to do this. It took months to come together but I ended up in wonderful situations with some amazing characters and fantastic stories to capture. "

Another advantage of personal work (and again Brits in Europe is a case in point here) people will hire you to do more of what you love, but you have to do it first. I now get asked by clients to capture images similar to my personal work. Hopefully in the end you find yourself in a wonderful cycle where your commissioned work and personal work always bring you the same sense of satisfaction.

4. What project are you most proud and why? What inspired you to do it ?

It will have to be Brits in Europe. It is by far the largest body of work I have ever created. It took over 3 years to get the final project together. I loved being able to dive into other people’s lives and have the freedom to create images exactly how I wanted to. The project has also led to my first solo exhibitions, helped me start working for publications like the Sunday Times Magazine and has taught me a completely new way of creating photographs to investigate an idea.

I was inspired to do it because I did not like the way people spoke about immigrants in the UK – the narrative is all statistics and stereotypes. The media tend to leave out the personal stories.

" I wanted to do the exact opposite and to show a British audience that immigrants are people just like them - with lives not dissimilar, stories not too foreign. I thought the best way to do that would be to show people that Brits are immigrants too. "

5. What is the craziest project you have done? Just how far are you prepared to go to take a great photograph ?

Would pouring 150 litres of wine over a friend count as crazy? How about setting two TV presenters on fire in bathtub (complete with a rubber ducky)? If I feel some things are worth doing in the name of a great photo, I am prepared to do them and prepared to convince my sitters to do them. The most outrageous thing to be part of was probably the wine photoshoot where I soaked my friend Nik repeatedly in wine. It was a day of many showers for Nik, many outfits for the stylist and a lot of mess. Totally worth it though.


6. When choosing a subject to photograph, what is it you look for ?

" I am drawn to people with a passion for something - I do not mind if it is politics, pets or pizza. People open up when you get them talking about things they are passionate about and I love that. It makes the final image more honest. "

I also feel that once you get a good chat going, the passionate sitters are much more likely to be up for some of my more unusual ideas and I love working with people who are up for some fun. You can’t really go wrong with them in front of your camera.

7. If you could pick anyone in the world to take your portrait who would it be and why ?

Ha! Doctors are said to be the worst patients and pilots the most nervous of passengers. I have never given this question any thought! I love Martin Schoeller’s work. His well-known close-up portraits are brilliant (although I am not sure I could take the honesty of the final image!), but it is his humorous editorial work that really inspires me. I wonder what we could come up with if I said that I am up for anything to get him the best image.


8. In such a competitive industry such as photography, what is the key to success ?

I believe persistence is very important. Trying hard and not giving up is how you get to do what you want. To meet that picture editor you have always wanted to work with takes 20 emails, 10 follow up calls, another 5 emails, eventually a brief meeting, then a bit of pushing before he or she might just give you a small chance a year later. It can be discouraging, but if you want to get there, you have to be persistent.

Also - shoot what you love. Do personal work that is exactly what you want to do and enjoy doing – that way your portfolio can be full of it and people will hire you to shoot more work like it. Occasionally you will end up being paid to shoot your personal work – it’s the best feeling when that happens.   



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Artjobs talks to AOP portrait & fashion photographer Anna Isola Crolla



1.   Who is Anna Isola Crolla ? 
Who am I?  I am a Portrait and Fashion Photographer.

2.   Tell us about the moment you were first introduced to the camera and out of all the genres of photography, why mainly Fashion ?
There has always been a camera in my face!  Throughout my young life my mother would continuously capture our way of life here in the UK, sending them back to relatives in Italy. Around the time I was 19, I was introduced to photography through an acquaintance who had just purchased his first camera. It was at this point, I began to take an interest.

" So initially I wanted to be a fashion designer but alas, I couldn’t draw to save my own life however found that Fashion Photography was a better direction to take and a quicker process in creating fashion. "

3.   In your opinion, what are the qualities of an ideal model for fashion projects and the perfect model for portraiture ?

" An ideal fashion model is one who projects a professional attitude, who has character, is confident but grounded. "

A model that inspires and thinks out of the box. For me personally, model portraiture is down to diversity, style and contrast; it can be anything from being photogenic to unconventional.

4.   What photographers inspire you? Is there anything in particular you take from them when creating your own images ?
Photographers who inspire? Well, we could be here a while as the list is endless but here’s a few: Bruce Weber, Annie Leibovitz, Reuven Afanador, Paolo Roversi, Vincent van de Wijngaard and Vivian Maier. What I admire and take from these photographers is different in respect to each, it could be something as simple as a moment, a narrative, the perfect lighting or street style. Far importantly, it’s to collaborate with creative’s who excel in there field.

5.   What has been your most memorable assignment and why ?
The most memorable assignment would have to be shooting through difficult weather conditions which has happened on more than one occasion. It had its challenges let me tell you!  It effected everyone involved including the producer, the models, the creatives and the assistants. What made the shoot possible was the resilience and the determination of everyone involved to see the shoot through until every last image was shot.

6.   What is your dream client to photograph and where would you want to photograph them ? 
The ideal client is one who allows you the carte blanche option to create and is confident with the trust that comes with that. How and where you shoot comes down to discussions and expectations, each project for me, inspires fresh ideas.

7.   Give us some top tips on how you have marketed your photography throughout the years ?
I have marketed myself initially through testing models and attending fashion events followed by showcasing my portfolio to magazines & news editors, advertising, design and agents, word of mouth and the World Wide Web. Also being a member of The AOP (Association of Photographers)  provided me with a platform to display portfolio’s to a wider audience and internationally. These are the steps I have taken in order to progress and achieve business growth.

8.   Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently in your career ?
Looking back, I would have to say I would have assisted more! This helps to develop your technique, knowledge of the industry, and helps build relationships.

E:   W:


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Production Paradise talks to AOP photographer Claus Morgenstern

Photographer Claus Morgenstern on how to tell a story through places and human interaction

August 4, 2016 by 

Creating images is the passion of Claus Morgensternand interiors and landscapes are his playground. The photographer from Mannheim is specialised in interior and people photography – two apparent opposites: How can they fit together? Read bellow our full interview with Claus, who has worked for clients like SAKS Urban Design Hotels, Air Plus Internationaland many others, and get to know more about his view on the future of advertising photography, on how politics can help our communities and much more!

Interior Photography Ajando

Production Paradise: Claus, could you tell us something about your journey to become a photographer?

Claus Morgenstern: To be honest – I never wanted to be a photographer! I was filming videos and editing them on my old and green coloured iMac with the basic iMovie software. Then I got my first camera, the Olympus Om2, and I started taking some black & white pictures, and suddenly the option to create a full story within one frame got me really interested. In 2006 I was studying photo design in Pforzheim; after my graduation in 2008 I realized that being a photographer and an artist is what I desired.

“Urban Living” editorial for the KFW Award Magazine 2016

Production Paradise: Your people & lifestyle photography is very vibrant, filled up with emotions and life. Shooting interiors seems to be the opposite – what are the challenges of this kind of photography?

Claus Morgenstern: First of all, I didn’t think that I could do people photography properly. It was never my priority – I focused more on landscapes and interiors. Creating a scene that helped me to tell the story, and getting the right proportions without using human interaction is a fascinating thing that in the end leads you to understand how people should be photographed. Most of the times I choose the background and the environment, and then I insert people into the scene I have created, where I think they stand out more or have the most impact for the image.

Tibetan monks on the mountain chain of Innsbruck

Production Paradise: Last year you joined the honourable “AOP” Association of Photographers in London and opened your own studio in Mannheim, Werftstudio – What do these experiences mean to you both professionally and personally?

Claus Morgenstern: The AOP is another open door and great opportunity to show my work to a larger range of potential clients and to have the chance to interact more with other photographers. Second, having my own studio is a dream, which offers me the possibility to try more things on my daily life without the problem of cleaning up behind me (smiles). Before I used to share co-working spaces, which was a solution but never gives you the real freedom of just trying out new ideas.

Production Paradise: Which project would you consider as your best or most successful one? What was the inspiration behind it?

Claus Morgenstern: “ELECTED ICONS” is my lifeblood. The source of inspiration for this long term project is politics and the possibilities and benefits of the voting system: people have representatives to defend their interests. I got the chance of being in a political position when I was just 13 years old, and implemented building on a 75000 DM skate park in my home town. At this point I realised politics can work and even though you are just one person, you have a voice! I’m thankful for all these people who choose to call this their job and work for the community.

Kasim Reed (Mayor of Atlanta) for “Elected Icons”

Production Paradise: Do you have a dream project you would love to shoot in the future?

Claus Morgenstern: Yes. I would love to photograph a series with some actors and well known people with a social theme. The pictures should make the people aware of charity and convey the message of being more polite to each other. Our world is getting destroyed by stupid issues like fighting other people’s religions – that is absolutely each person’s own business and nothing that we should judge.

CEO of “The Tuscaloosa Newspaper” for “Elected Icons”

Production Paradise: Do you try to keep up with the latest innovations in photography? What is your favourite piece of photography gear?

Claus Morgenstern: I do try to keep up, I think it is important. My favourite gear is the “Leica M”; this camera is giving me a hard time! It feels like learning photography from scratch again. Focus settings and some other features work slower, which in our fast world brings back the fun into my personal way of looking at things.


Pensacola Beach

Production Paradise: How would you describe the current state of the advertising photography industry, and how do you see the future of this industry?

Claus Morgenstern: Well, comparing to back in the days, the industry offers much more potential for a lower budget. I would love to see more authentic ideas than just the uninspired and plain stock photographs showing the client’s logo on the shirt.

There will be great and innovative new ways of advertising in the printed media and moving image field – it’s still a very exciting job and I’m curious about what the next 20 years will bring.

Production Paradise: Have you ever thought about being something else than a photographer?

Claus Morgenstern: No, not yet. But who knows, I’m getting more and more interested in introducing younger people, interns and students into my job. I enjoy teaching creative skills and maybe I’ll become an ambassador for creativity, or a teacher.


Southern Suburbs

Production Paradise: What piece of advice would you offer to someone starting out as a photographer?

Claus Morgenstern: Be curious, be inquisitive, be patient. Listen to the old people and learn as long as you can – that means always! Being an assistant for at least five different photographers provides a wider perspective. A great colleague once said – it takes 10 years to figure out your photographic identity. Last but not least, don’t be a stupid egoist. The business wasn’t waiting for you. But always be an interesting and nice character.

Production Paradise: How has Production Paradise been helpful for you?

Claus Morgenstern: Production Paradise is a great tool to spread my vision, and helps me to find production and post production professionals in areas that I haven’t explored yet.

We thank Claus for the testimonial and these great insights. If you want to see more of his work, have a look at Claus’ websiteor our latest Corporate & Industrial Photography Spotlight magazine. He’s also listed on our directory among other best Frankfurt-based people photographers and Frankfurt-based interior photographers.

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Magic Moments: An interview with Oliver Haupt



1. You had a formal education in Art and Photography. How essential is such a higher education when it comes to a career in photography? Is there any knowledge that has stayed with you ?

Yes, I had the chance to study arts and photography. But prior to this, I had already started doing my own images. I think it is very important to study because you have time to develop your criteria, you are exposed to all sorts of different opinions and you see a lot. It was a very intense time, dedicated purely to making images The best thing is, this wide horizon stays with you forever because once you start to see things differently, you can’t go back.


"once you start to see things differently, you can’t go back."

2. How has your taste in photography evolved since you first got started ?

My taste is under constant evolution though there are many things that have stayed throughout the years and don’t change. This is what make your work yours and I think this comes from the heart and cannot be taught to someone or trained.

Image: "My work is based on the deep love and admiration of life and creature, interfered by permanent presence of transience. How can one enjoy the beauty of creature and loveliness of a movement being aware of it fading away the next instant into nothing? Or is finiteness what gives life its meaning? It wouldn’t be the same emotion if we could reproduce these moments infinitely often. It hurts that all is threatened by transience, I would wish to persist all the power of lost and destruction. I would want to make the moment eternal but wouldn't this destroy the magic? "

3. Children are an ongoing subject matter for you. What in particular do you love about photographing children ? 

" Children possess the unspoilt ability to live in the moment therefore they can give me back what we have all lost whilst growing up. Becoming an adult means accepting many rules and as a result, our emotions get restricted and poor. In this sense, children can be very inspiring and open-minded."

Working with children helps me to unleash my emotions. I can project my feelings into them and express myself in their play. It is like being them, just a bit closer to the essence of life for an instant. This is done by taking images of their play but it also can involve creating objects together with them as well as other ways to participate in their world.

4. What are some of the difficulties when it comes to photographing children and how do you overcome them ?

The worst that can happen (and it happens a lot), is that the parents and society do not waste time to push the transformation of their children into adults. E.g., they train their children to put on an artificial smile or other awful attitudes when they get aware of the camera. As a result, it can take a long time to get these children to feel real joy or fascination.

This is very sad and you don’t get the images you want. Above all, it is sad for the child as well as the parents because they both loose out on the best in life…the childhood. A child deserves to live it and this is a chance for the adult to understand life and get closer to the essence of being on earth. As the child grows, it gets more and more difficult to connect with this again.

5. One the other hand, you also love to photograph much "harsher" subject matters such as jets and combat sport. Why the contrast in subject matter ?

All of my photography is about capturing moments and recording life. Life in it’s diversity gets much more intense and real. An emotionally rich life is much more interesting than a limited one.

" I do not want to limit myself as a person and dedicate myself to only one sort of emotion in life and I neither want this to happen to the images I create. I think this is very important when it comes to how you capture the world."

Contrasting subject matters give different dimensions to my images. It gives depth and this is as relevant for my harsher subject matters as it is for my more tender ones.

6. Which photographers have had the greatest influence on you? In what way have they influenced your work ?

Firstly, I admire Ansel Adams for his love and his monk-like dedication to the material. I try to do what he did in the darkroom when I set my illumination and when I adjust the curves in the computer, finding the magic in balancing the image until it feels right.

My second pick and my favourite is certainly William Eggleston for breaking the rules and for just being a visionary, able to do what he needed to do. I think this is very important; finding your own sets of rules and leave behind the things the society wants you to do.

Finally, I pick Helmut Newton for the style of his images and for being able to do always the same without getting bored. I think it is great to go on and on with the sort of work you like.

And there are many more, of course not all can be that famous, but they all possess the right mix of dedication and talent that makes them producers of great images. 

7. What are some key pieces of advice you would give to other photographers when it comes to marketing themselves and getting noticed ? 

I would highly recommend being real. Be yourself and to let your heart take the pictures. The photographer physically is just the middle man but the image needs to happen on its own.

" The photographer’s job is to create the climate, prepare himself to capture the moment and always be aware that he has not missed that moment. "

Photography happens to the photographer: a very difficult fact to accept for a Homo Faber person from Colone. But it feels as if this is the truth!

8. What would you do if you were not a photographer ?

I adore life and I want to contribute somehow to it. I always have the urge to give back for the marvelousness we have here on earth. If I could not be a photographer or a visual artist who spends his life dedicated to still or moving images, I would definitely be a musician. Music is as spontaneous and immediate as images are.

It is the direct link to the soul and helps you to understand life. It provides a way of being part of the world. And I want to be a part of this world. 



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AOP Student Awards 2016 Winners

The Association of Photographers announced the winners of the 2016 Student Awards at a packed presentation and party at The Print Space Gallery in Shoreditch, alongside the exhibition of all finalist images.  The exhibition includes all 55 finalist images, which fall under the themes People, Places or Things. 

Judges James Eckersley, Nigel Harniman & Paul Hill selected a Best in Category for each category, plus one overall Best in Show. 

Nina Baillie won Best in 'People' category, judged by James Eckersley
Kieran Cashell won Best in 'Places' category, judged by Paul Hill
Sian Oliver won Best in 'Things' category, judged by Nigel Harniman
Jo Cock won Best in Show, agreed by all three judges

Kieran, Sian and Jo are all AOP Student members. 

The judges 

James Eckersley is a portraiture and advertising photographer with an impressive client list. Described as a ‘leading light in contemporary British portraiture’, his work is exhibited in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery. James will judge the People category.

Paul Hill has worked as a photographer for the Guardian and Observer, exhibited regularly since 1970 and has written books on photography. Furthermore he became Director of Creative Photography at Trent Polytechnic Nottingham in 1976, received an MBE for services to photography, and is the first professor of photography practice in a British university. Paul will judge the Places category.

Nigel Harniman has been an automotive photographer for twenty years, specializing in cars but with a vision naturally encompassing landscapes and lifestyle. The juxtaposition of sheet metal and landscapes, whether urban or natural has always intrigued Nigel, the interplay of light, colour and texture. Enjoying every new challenge that quality automotive photography brings – from defined advertising campaigns to the freedom or editorial projects. Nigel will judge the Things category.

The exhibition runs from 29 July - 9 August at The Printspace Gallery, 74 Kingsland Road, E2 8DL

You can see the winners and finalist here 

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We talk to Pixsy about the hot topic of whether photographers should work for free


Should photographers ever work for free?

GrahamBusiness of Photography


Photographers should not work for free

Every photographer knows the drill: “It will be a great opportunity to build your portfolio,” and “We don’t have a budget for photos.” Given the strong competition in photography, it’s tempting to accept requests for free work.  We strongly discourage working without compensation, but when a Pixsy employee was recently asked by a friend to do a small shoot for free, we wondered how photographers should handle these situations. So we gathered a panel of industry experts and asked then one question: is it ever OK to ask a photographer to work for free?


The consequences of taking unpaid photography work

Photography is your business.
It’s a product and service that others will either buy, or pass up on.

Professional photographers constantly get emails asking them to shoot long hours and provide top-quality images – for no payment other than “exposure”. Any mention of a fee (or lack thereof) is buried under several paragraphs of praise and flattery, and when they try and quote a price, the response can sometimes be hostile.

The Association of Photographers has plenty to say about the common “marketing” promises that come with working for free:

“Too often, work opportunities are presented to photographers on the basis of garnering ‘great exposure’ in return; the opportunity to have your work seen far and wide, the oft-heard line, ‘It’ll be great PR for you!’…Trouble is, it rarely pans out that way. There are so many avenues for publicity these days that aside from some major brands perhaps, that ‘great exposure’ will be meaningless.”

Filing yourself into the “will work for free” category is not good publicity; it’s bad networking, and ruins your own perception of value. When you agree to shoot or produce photographs for nothing, you’re essentially locking yourself out of your own price range.

After all, how can you expect to turn your photography into a profitable, sustainable business if you aren’t able to set your own price? Unpaid commissions can sometimes offer more creative control, but is that really worth undermining the economic value of creativity?

Julia Anna Gospodarou is a multi award-winning  black and white fine art photographer and architect. In her workshops, mentoring programs and best-selling books, she emphasises the business and financial side of photography alongside the artistic.

My work is my passion but it also has to provide me with financial support for myself and my family,”

There is a creative part that goes into it that is very energy consuming, and there is also the investment the professional photographers have to make in their gear, studios, electronic equipment, professional trips, education, bills, taxes and everything else.”

From a practical point of view, working for free creates an awkward expectation of quality:

  • If the “client” isn’t happy with the photos, do they have a right to complain?
  • When you’re shooting photos as a favour, what standards are you working to?

It’s hard to get honest feedback for free work, and it doesn’t matter whether they love or hate your finished photos, everything you produce gets stamped with a “freebie” level of quality.

Working for Free with expensive photography gear

Working for free is an expensive risk. In gear costs alone, photographers need to replace older cameras, order new lenses, and wedding photographers must invest in specific tools so they can shoot in all conditions. || Photo: Jakob Owens

Tiffany Mueller is a professional photographer who also writes tutorials and guides for DIY Photography and Lightstalking, and her work has also appeared on the Pixsy blog! She says that if someone with a budget asks you to work for free, they’re not complimenting your work – they’re devaluing your skills. Whether they realize it or not, they’re basically saying, ‘We like your photography, but not enough to pay you to do it.’  These type of people are the bane of the industry – I try not to waste too much time on them, but if I’m feeling snarky, sometimes I’ll send them back a playful email.”

Unpaid assignments are even worse in the long term, she adds, as you only drag other photographers down with you.

“Each time a photographer takes an unpaid job thinking they’re jump starting their career, what they’re actually doing is destroying any hope of job security. If we all started saying no to unpaid gigs, we’d all be asked a lot less.”  

Remember when you agree to work on a handshake instead of a contract, you get none of the protections of regular photography work:

  • Whoever you’re shooting for will want license rights to the images, and no serious photographer would give those away for free.
  • If shooting an event and something happens to your gear, your penny-pinching “client” isn’t going to foot the bill.
Stop Working for Free Facebook

Members of the ‘Stop Working for Free’ Facebook page regularly post job listings where photographers are asked to shoot for free.

We often see such stories on ‘Stop Working for Free‘; a Facebook group where freelance creatives share their experiences of being asked to work for little, if any, pay. The founder, Mark Pringle, is very direct about the effect unpaid photography jobs and internships have on the job market:

“The willingness of (increasingly) young middle class people, frequently supported by their parents, to work for nothing — this is turning photography and other creative professions into a middle class ghetto,” he says. It’s people’s willingness to work for little or nothing that is creating the situation whereby existing professionals are finding it impossible to find work.”

Robert Kenney, a professional photographer and regular contributor to the group, posted this statement in regards to dealing with unpaid internship and job offers: “Be on your guard for people who act with a sense of entitlement. It’s a mind game. They act as if there is something wrong with you because you do not want to work for free. It is a deliberate trick. View them as con artists, ‘used car salesmen,’ politicians and the like. It’s not worth arguing. There is no ‘paid work in the future.’ JUST SAY NO.” 

Why are photographers asked to work for free?

Photographers aren’t the only creative professionals getting these requests. However, there are specific reasons why if you can take a professional-looking photo, you will at some point be asked to work for free.

Because photography is so popular and everybody can do it, many think that professional photography is just as easy as picking up a camera, shooting a few photos and that’s it,” says Julia Ann Gospodarou. “This is a distorted perception and it is happening becausemany don’t know what goes into doing photography as a profession.”

portable cameras

The commoditization of photography means that every person walking has a camera in their pocket, and less will appreciate the skills and services of a professional photographer. || Photo: Jay Wennington

“I even hesitate to say we enjoy photography, because of Snapchatting, Instagramming and Facebooking,” says Bryan Caporicci, a wedding & portrait photographer and host of the Sprouting photography podcast. “We take the image, we share it quickly and then it’s on to the next one almost as quickly as that one came to us,

An entrepreneur before becoming a photographer, Bryan believes many photographers simply don’t have the necessary passion for business:

“We need to be embodying professionalism, because if we don’t it’s easy to see why a lot of people see what we do as a glorified hobby.”

“If we start running our business like a proper business, with processes, systems, expectations and policies…I would never walk into a cafe and be like “hey can I have a coffee for free?” I understand, OK this is a business, here they have a shop, they got employees, they got prices listed right there. Most photographers don’t have that level of infrastructure.”

Matt Druin Photography

Marketing and advertising are vital for a successful photography business – more so than taking photos || Photo: Matt Druin

One photographer who certainly does is Matt Druin; who put himself on the map by offering free travel on all his U.S. destination wedding shoots. Hardly another photography freebie, he turned his love of traveling and easy-to-fly-from Atlanta location into a key selling point: “I use it as marketing; I put it everywhere. It’s all over my website, it’s all over our social media posts every time, just because it’s something unique.”

“Obviously I would make less on those weddings than I would a local wedding. At the same time, it shows too how much we’re invested in our clients, that we’re willing to do that for them and not take as much money to work with them. I think it’s all about showcasing value.”

Photographing for your own benefit

Sometimes photographers will waive their usual fee for personal reasons. Perhaps the client is a friend or family member in a really desperate situation. Maybe they have a beach house that you hope they will lend you for the weekend. Or, you just owe them a lot of money and want to stop the crowbars coming out!

When it comes to larger businesses, here are some scenarios where our photography panel have offered their services strictly for their own benefit:

If new to the field, some work for the sheer experience of shooting an event or in a studio to build their portfolio, and to start establishing industry contacts.

If you want to start a portrait studio you can start building up your portfolio by shooting your friends and acquaintances for free so you can show your skills,” says Julia Anna Gospodarou. “Same thing for real estate photography. You could ask some building owners to shoot their buildings and give them some photos for free in return for you being able to showcase this work.

Destination Wedding Photogrpahy

Photo: Matt Druin

When an experienced professional wants to move into a new field of photography, they may not charge initially if they don’t have working shots or a strong list of clientele in that industry. However, that doesn’t mean the client/company can’t cover additional costs.

“When I got into doing destination weddings, my very first one I ever did I did for free, in exchange that they would pay for my travel expenses,” says Matt Druin. “Once I have that one destination wedding, and I was able to showcase that to other people on my blog, and start really marketing, doing the SEO and have visual representation…you’ve shown “hey, I have travelled before, and I have the experience,” and that eases things on their end.”

Some feel justified photographing without compensation if it’s for a worthy cause or campaign. Just note that Charities and NGO’s often do have the budget to pay photographers.

“I’ve done pro bono work for local animal shelters and low income families who aren’t in a position to have professional portraits taken and found the experiences to be rewarding in ways outside of finances,” says Tiffany Mueller. “If you’re really passionate about a cause and have the opportunity to help by using your camera skills, go for it. Just make sure you’re actually helping someone in need and not being taken advantage of.”

Photographer building portofolio

Photo: mikebaird // CC BY 2.5

Experienced photographers may want to develop their portfolio and diversify their collection. Rather than taking free work, you can always ask customers if they’d be willing to stay a little longer after a shoot to help you with your experimental photography. You can even offer the prints as appreciation for their time.

“I have no problem publicly announcing things like that to my Facebook page,” says Bryan Caporicci.“But I set the expectation that it’s for a specific purpose. Obviously I’m happy to collaborate and take input on things, but this is not you hiring me as a photographer, this is me hiring you as a subject to photograph. When you frame it that way, I think it really helps keep that value really high.”

Shooting for ‘payment in kind’ as opposed to ‘for free’

If you want to provide your camerawork for something other than money, here are some ways you can make it worthwhile:

Agree on some kind of goods and or services trade: I.e. Is your client a web designer? Then they could help design your webpage.

Bryan Caporicci: “When we were looking to do some container gardens for our home, there was a local florist that specialised in doing beautiful urns and all these great things with outdoor florals. So she came over, realised I was a photographer, and said “I actually need pictures…” I told her, listen: I want to talk about everything I need as your client, and I want you to give me a price on that. And then I’m going to talk about everything you need from me as a photographer, and I’m going to give you a price on that. Then let’s actually just pay that difference.”

Set out how much work you’ll do: Make sure your client understands you won’t work a second longer or take a single photo more than what’s required.

Matt Druin: Just be very clear of the process and expectations of everything. Like: “I’m gonna shoot for exactly 8 hours on this specific day, it’s going to be consecutive time,” because you don’t want to get into a situation where they’re like “well we had 8 hours, we only used 5 on this day, so can we use 3 for the next day?””

The Association of Photographers:“If the brand/company/organisation in question are capable of paying for professional photography (and indeed, seem to be paying for everything else but), then why should the photographer be the one to succumb?”

Don’t accept any vague promises of “exposure”: Sort out something concrete, like setting up a stall with your portfolio, prints and business cards, or putting an advertisement on their website.

Bryan Caporicci photography business expert

Photo: Bryan Caporicci

BC: “If I’m photographing for a magazine that I was already hoping to advertise in, and I was already looking to spend $2000, that for me seems like a fair trade…I always use magazines, because in the wedding industry it’s very prevalent. They’ll ask you to shoot a free creative in exchange for advertising or for photo credit, and I often say ‘that’s nice, but photo credit doesn’t feed my family.'”

Regardless of the money, always sort out a contract: This negotiates what’s expected from both parties, and can guarantee that you’ll be able to use the images in your portfolio to potentially land some paid work down the line.

MD: “All the free shoots I’ve ever done, even for my own personal stuff, there’s always some kind of contract that outlines the who, what, when, why and how things can be used.”

Tiffany Mueller: “I got my first photography job by pitching a photo shoot with a local band I had already done as a personal project to a local entertainment magazine…”

“…Sometimes people don’t know they need a photographer until it’s suggested, so don’t be so quick to reduce yourself to working for nothing.”

Explaining why you won’t work for free

When the person asking you to shoot for free is a close friend or family member, the situation can get awkward…sometimes even ugly.

You don’t have to take it personally. Non-photographers don’t always understand or appreciate the amount of work that’s involved, and may not fully recognize that this is your business. Instead of typing up an angry email or burning a few bridges, you can gently decline their request for unpaid photography work in the following ways:

  • Make them understand that your camera work is not just about “taking photos and sending them to print.” Explain the time commitments, the cost of gear, studio rent and expenses etc.
  • Compare shooting for free to them offering the same priced service to you e.g. if your friend makes designer cakes, ask them to imagine the time and money they’d lose out if they were to plan, bake and decorate a cake to your specifications, free of charge.
  • Gather and present price quotes from other photographers for the same amount of work – it doesn’t matter if they charge more or less than you, the point is to demonstrate that there is a standard cost for what’s being asked.
  • If you’re attending a wedding and suddenly you’re asked to be the photographer, explain that you won’t be able to enjoy the ceremony and occasion when you’re working.
  • Tell them that you have a strict “I don’t mix business with family/friendship” rule (in practice, this is probably a good thing to have!)

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