PHOTOGRAPHER FEATURED IN MINIMAL | VOL.3 | ISSUE.3
I love minimalism. I was born and raised in Germany and I’ve been working as a freelance art director and photographer for more than 7 years. Located in Stuttgart in the south of Germany, I combine the art of graphic design and photography to work for clients in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.
I started my career 16 years ago as a graphic designer. While I was working in the graphic industry for the first years I developed a strong passion for visual art and the metamorphosis between concept, color, light, and retouch.
During my time as an art director in different agencies, I developed creative concepts and brandings for international clients. Yet, I always felt the need to not only put these concepts to paper but also to create them with my own hands and in front of the lens, so I took up photography in the year 2011.
Q. We love your striking and clean aesthetic, how did you find your style?
Well, first of all, thank you. In my opinion, my background in graphic design plays a big part in the aesthetic I am creating in my photography nowadays.
I was always into clean minimalistic but still organic aesthetics. Of course, I feel flattered when people are telling me that they recognize "my personal style" in my images. On the other hand, I am still not sure if I found something I can call "my style“. Everything is a process and aesthetics change constantly.
Q. What made you fall in love with Beauty Photography?
I have always been obsessed with skin and capturing the fragile and transitory moment of beauty in pure scenery. Beauty photography for me has also a kind of minimalism in it. There are a few clothes or scenery that distract the eye from the subject.
Q. How has your graphic design background helped you in the industry?
During my time in advertising agencies, I also contributed to photoshoots or productions. This helped me to understand the process and workflow behind a shoot when booked by a design or advertising agency as a photographer. But also the whole technical background and knowledge about color theory, color management, and of course Photoshop, was super useful.
Q. What are your biggest challenges in beauty/ product photography?
Oh, this one is hard.… Biggest challenges? Not to create boring images and also not to be bored! There are many beautiful photographs that look similar. Don't misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with that. It isn’t possible to create a “never-seen-before piece“ every time you shoot. Especially in beauty where you are restricted to the areas of the model's face, most of the time.
I think the small things count; whether it is a strand of hair blowing in the wind, captured in the right moment, a special color-grading, or a prop matching the concept of the image in a natural and organic way, to create a little bit of a story.
Q. Minimal & fresh describes your work. Tell us how you are still able to create powerful emotions through your images.
I’m just trying to tell a little bit of a story. Emotions aren't always told by the expression of a model. We have so many tools to create emotions. For example, a bright brilliant color of a background can be super emotional when you combine it with a straight forward and emotionless posing.
Q. Best advice someone has given to you? And the Best advice you have given to someone?
Best advice someone has given me: Don’t be so harsh on your work, Sven!
The best advice I have given someone: Don’t be so harsh on your work …..!
Sounds stupid, but there is one thing most of the people in the creative industry share.... Most of us are really hard self-critics.
This is a good thing that drives us and keeps us creating but it also can be really destructive and energy-sucking. It’s good to know that even the people you admire have doubts in their work or results they are not satisfied with.
Stop comparing yourself, especially on social media. This is so toxic, but most of the time you get a totally different image of a person's work/ life on Instagram than the reality looks like.
Q. How often are you booking product photography jobs? And how did you start booking these jobs?
Well to be honest, not that often, but I also would not consider myself as a “product photographer“. In my opinion “real“ product photography is a whole different genre of photography itself. It’s all about real craftsmanship and mastering artificial studio lighting.
Back to your question: Yes I do some still-life work and I love to do that and also do some product shots. But it’s more about the composition and overall look and feel in my work, not the perfect product shoot. I would never ever consider myself a product photographer.
Q. For a new beauty photographer, what lighting advice would you give?
Well, first of all start with one light ;-). And now personal but general advice, stop watching too many tutorials and youtube behind the scenes. It’s good to learn the basics, but there really is no right or wrong in lighting.
So learn the rules to break the rules. It’s all about trial and error. You don’t need super expensive gear or any special light former to create a great look.
Q. Tell us about your editing process!
I always start in Capture One because I love how this software handles color and especially skin tone. After exporting 16-bit files I go straight to Photoshop. And there I start the retouch magic. In fact, there is no magic, it Is just cleaning the image and then dodging and burning. No frequency separation, no blurring or fancy techniques, just the right amount of dodging and burning and at the end I add the look on top of it. Most of the time a mix of curves and color balance.
Q. What made you interested in creating graphics in motion?
I know everyone is talking about that. Every photographer has to be a video maker nowadays due to the amount of “moving“ content the social media channels are demanding. I’m not sure about this thesis, but I’m sure about one thing: Creating moving beauty images was really fun but also challenging for me.
For me it was the challenge to create a kind of similar look and feel to a moving image as I would do to a still image, especially when you are used to all the hints and retouch techniques you can use in a still image.
Q. Do you feel you have made a lot of progress in the last few years with photography? Are you the type of person to always experiment and try to learn new methods?
Yes and No. Yes, I made a lot of progress… Am I satisfied? …No. I know this wasn’t the question but I had to make my point. To be honest, I wish I would experiment a bit more. I am always interested in developing my style and trying out new techniques but on a daily basis, there is not much time or room to experiment that much.
Q. Tell us about a moment where you felt most creative and inspired while shooting!
This was probably a year ago on a studio day, I was shooting a small beauty campaign with artificial light. We finished the shots earlier than planned and everyone was happy, so I decided to go outside and do some extra shots in the backyard.
The light was surprisingly beautiful and I was immediately in “the zone“. Those outdoor images with natural light turned out to be great. Funny fact: Thinking about this always makes me laugh. The set outside was just a mess, I’m glad that there are no behind the scenes images. I used garbage cans for posing tables.
Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope to live healthy and happy with the people I love. Honestly, this sounds super cheesy, but these are the things that count. I guess that's not the answer you wanted to hear. But I just don't have any big specific wish or goal regarding my work. I don’t want fame or to be the best “whatever“ photographer in the world.
That doesn’t mean that I am not ambitious, not at all. I Just want to be satisfied with myself and my work.
Q. Give 3 tips to a beginner photographer wanting to create a minimal beauty editorial!
Keep It simple! Hahaha ;-) Especially the makeup and hair. A professional hair and makeup artist is so important.
Keep the line: Think about a concept, one idea, one theme, and don’t mix too many ideas into one.
Keep creating: Sometimes it turns out great, sometimes it turns out crappy. I think that's normal. Just keep going.
Photographer: Sven Barucha @sbarucha
Model: Eileen Hochstein
HMUA: Nicole Bachmann
Grading: Sven Barucha @sbarucha