Looking at this photographer’s work on instagram I was fascinated by the details he captures so spontaneously. The colors, tones and lighting are something magical. His black and white really reflects the person he portrays. And so I decided to collaborate for this series of interviews with him, I think it’s unique what each photographer, person, shares with us in this process of sharing experiences. Dr. Hendrik Wieduwilt worked as a lawyer, a legal correspondent (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) and a spokesperson for the federal ministry of justice in Berlin. Today, he passes on his experience from the media business to executives as a media trainer. He writes and speaks about law policy and the digital world.
Which are the rules of your photographic work?
I always try to capture a sentiment, not the reality. For example: I extremely turned up the colors for my pictures from Cuba – because that’s what it felt like, even though the reality was a lot more muted. I also use flash for portraits to make people (and their eyes) shine in a way I felt them.
Yet I only edit in a way that is possible in the traditional dark room – so barely any photoshop, only lighting, dodging & burning, cropping, curves.
For consistency in look & feel I try not to mix cameras or lens manufacturers during a project.
Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes a difference?
I like to use small cameras with fixed lenses. Especially the Ricoh GR amazed me. The small size makes all the difference: Not only is it unobstructive but you shoot differently. With less perfectionism – which might be why they market it as “the ultimate snapshooter”. Since I’m quite obsessed with perfectionism it really helps me getting things done. Also, small cameras invite to get new angles. I tried traditional setups like a 24-70 2.8 and these lenses are phenomenal – optically. But they’re just too big for me.
I like the mobile workflow using Lightroom Mobile for daily work – I can even edit some pics waiting in line at the supermarket.
I recommend to use film simulations – but only very few, like you would do with analog film. It helps to achieve consistency and you learn how to get the right exposition in camera.
Tell us about an experience that has definitely changed the way you work and made you growing.
I’m not a metal head but I always found the metal festival “Wacken Open Air” fascinating. My camera opened up this strange world to me and I went already two times to make portraits of metal heads. I designed a book from it and that taught me a lot about the editing process and choosing a certain technique for a consistent look.
Has there ever been a difficult situation? How did you react? tell us.
In Germany and especially in Berlin people hate to be photographed without prior permission – which is a problem for most of my street photography. One time a guy threatened to even beat me up because I took a picture of a motorcycle in front of his bar. I told him that I only take pictures, that this is my right to do, but he was quite agitated. I left, pretty angry myself. But I’d do it again, anytime (even though the pic turned out crappy).
How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you see?
I rarely do that drive-by-shooting style anymore so I often chat a bit with my subjects. Not too long, because I don’t want to make friends or pretend to be close to strangers. Just to make the situation less awkward. I usually offer to send the pictures afterwards. I constantly, obsessively scan my environment for lines, colors, textures, light cones etc. – frankly, it’s exhausting at times.
I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.
Secret techniques? I guess the techniques I use are not very secret. I think my most important technique comes from my day job as a moderator/journalist. In these professions you need to build up trust very quickly so that’s what I do when I take portraits of any kind. It’s not a real secret but something that is not easy for many otherwise excellent photographers. Many struggle with talking to strangers. But it’s worth it, I promise.
Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?
I suffer from G.A.S. from time to time, like many photographers. I use a Leica Q for daily photography since you can use it for an incredibly wide range of photography – family portraits, macros, street, landscape, night, anything. I still love my RicohGR most for street, flash and travel photography – it only struggles in the dark which makes it useless for social photography. And I use a Z6 with 35mm, 50mm and 85mm primes for everything else (Business Portraits, Weddings and right now for night photography of the shutdown).
Are there any books you would recommend?
- Susan Sontag, On Photography. It’s a terrific read, especially now.
- Dan Winters, Road to Seeing.
- Joel Meyerowitz, Where I Find Myself: A Lifetime Retrospective.
- Fred Herzog, Modern Color.
What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?
Everything, you really need to constantly feed your brain to produce something decent. Which is quite difficult during a pandemic. Movies and music help but nothing beats an art museum of any kind or travelling.