DOUBLE VISION: Creativity and the Value of Shared Vision.
18 December 2018
Continuing with our series of features for Computer Arts Magazine we interviewed Ilka & Franz. Scrolling through our list of photographers you notice that the large majority operates alone. Of course there are invaluable assistants, producers, retouchers and teams of people involved in a shoot, but the vision derives from the photographer. So what does the creative process look like for a photography duo? Are two creative visions better than one? We catch up with Ilka and Franz, partners both professionally and personally, to investigate the value in having a shared vision.
© Ilka & Franz
What are your backgrounds, how did you first meet?
We are from Germany and Austria originally but have been living and working in London for a number of years. We met in London at a friend’s house party after Franz had just arrived in the city to work as a photographers’ assistant.
Ilka had worked in digital marketing previously and Franz had had various jobs back in Austria, we were both very much at the beginning of our photographic careers when we met, still trying to figure it all out.
When did you decide to start working together?
That happened really quickly after we met. Ilka had a little Sunday afternoon shoot planned with a friend and Franz offered to help, it worked really well so from then on we worked on projects together.
We still had a lot of experimenting to do then to work out what we like and don’t like, and what kind of work we want to create. There isn’t really a set path in photography and there are also so many types of photographers that it takes a lot of trial and error to work out how to be one.
© Ilka & Franz
Tell us about your creative process as a duo – from initial brief to delivery of final images.
For us taking a picture is really just one of many steps. Before we shoot we work on overarching ideas and concepts, then we produce a shoot list, sketch each shot in Photoshop or with pen and paper, work out a colour palette, source and make sets and props; only then we finally go into the studio and shoot. The final phase is post-production where we put everything previously planned on its head and change it around, and where we refine colours and make everything straight, even, uniform and clean (an agonising process).
Do you tend to have completely different visions then bring them together for a brief? Or do you follow through on one vision together?
Overall, I want to say we have the same vision. Of course there are individual questions where our opinions differ. Or when we have our regular big talk about where our work is headed, we often have different directions in mind - different but still within the remit we have created for ourselves. Sometimes we argue it out, other times one of us just takes a step back and says, “Fine, I see you have a clear vision here, just take the lead on this one.” We have worked on developing our style together for nearly 5 years now, so to a large extend we are moving in the same direction.
Do you have certain arenas that you tend to stick to? Maybe one of you edits more than the other for example?
We both really do everything and are pretty interchangeable, but our skills also compliment each other. Franz is very crafty and great at set and prop making. He is also great at finding practical solutions for shoot related problems. Ilka is better at and usually has the final say in all things post-production and maybe is a bit more ideas, vision and taste oriented, i.e. this we like, and this we don’t like.
© Ilka & Franz
I can imagine that having two creative minds can be problematic, do you often disagree?! If so how do you resolve your disagreements?
We disagree all the time and that has just become part of the process. The important thing is that once we are on set and shooting, all of those differences have been ironed out. That is what the ideas, sketching and planning phase is for.
What’s the best and worst parts of working together?
The worst thing is probably that our relationship can be very much linked to our work life. There is no separating the two. But the good definitely outweighs the bad. It is great that we can challenge and push each other to develop and be better. One of us might think a shot is done when the other says, “I think we can still make it better.” Also, always having someone to watch your back is priceless, especially in the business on set. When a shot becomes challenging, often the other person can come to the rescue and approach it (literally) from a different angle.
View more work from Ilka & Franz here