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Learn From Experience: Hendrik Wieduwilt

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.
https://petapixel.com/2017/12/29/7-reasons-ricoh-gr-perfect-travel-companion-now/

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.

https://hendrikwieduwilt.photography/metalheads

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?

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.

Hendrik Wieduwilt

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Learn From Experience: Sarah Fuchs

Sarah Fuchs is a 26-year-old Norwegian travel and documentary photographer based in Amsterdam. Her curiosity for the world has led her to visit more than 40 countries and lived in four countries on two continents. She shoots almost exclusively on film, which allows her to slow down and connect with her surroundings in an otherwise busy daily life.

What are the rules of your photographic work?

I don’t think I have any rules for my photographic work. I would say that my pictures are often quite different based on whatever it is that inspires me at the moment. I find that rules limit the way I work and what I capture. I like to push the boundaries of the methods and techniques that I have been using so far. That is also the best way to keep learning and growing and to have fun!

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?

The turning point for me was when I put my digital camera on the shelf and started shooting exclusively on film. It forced me to consider what I wanted to capture. I had to get to know my camera and how it works to get the results I wanted. Now I shoot a mix of analog and digital but starting in analog improved my photographic skills and mindset.

Tell us about an experience that changed the way you work and made you grow.

Before I moved to Amsterdam, I lived in South Korea for half a year. During my stay there, I visited a small island south of the country called Jeju. There I met an incredible group of freediving women called the Haenyeo. Up until this moment, I had mainly shot whatever I found beautiful and what would fall within the category of travel photography. But the encounter with these women made me more interested in the storytelling aspect of photography. I wanted to tell the world about these incredible women through photography. Since then, my focus has been more on learning how to become a better documentary photographer.

Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.

The pandemic in 2020 put a stop to the lifestyle I had been living so far. I was used to traveling and exploring all the time, and suddenly I was stuck at home every day. I have always had a difficult time photographing my hometown. Because I am so used to it, I struggle to see it with fresh eyes and find a new way of capturing it. At first, I reacted by taking a break from photography altogether, and slowly I started exploring other aspects of photography I hadn’t engaged with so far. I started practicing portrait and documentary photography, and I have to admit I love it. It is different to work with a human subject, rather than just nature or places. But it adds something special to a picture, and it inspired me to continue to engage more with people through my photography in the future.

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you portray?

I like to think that I enter every environment with both curiosity and respect. I try to represent my subjects fairly, in the way in which they appear in the world. That is also why I don’t do much post-production of my images. I like the magic of the real world moments to remain within the image.

I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.

I’m not sure if I have any bonus tricks. I think one piece of advice I can give is not to get hung up on gear. When I first started, I was always researching cameras and lenses. I kept thinking that if I only have that specific camera, then my images will be better. But in reality, you don’t need a fancy camera to take great photographs. The best way to capture great photographs is by practicing with whatever camera you have right now. The gear will follow eventually.

Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?

I’m a bit of a camera nerd, and so I have a wide range of cameras by now. I mainly shoot analog using my Canon AE-1 or my Mamiya rb67 for medium format. I also have some point-and-shoot and half-frame cameras for the fun of it. Recently I started picking up digital photography using my Sony Alpha 6500. 

Are there any books you would recommend?

I think the ideal way of learning is by doing. No book can ever teach you to be a photographer the way going out and taking pictures every day can. Other than that, you can gain a lot from studying the photo books of your favorite photographers. Ask yourself: what is it that I love about this image? Am I drawn to the colors, shapes, or mood? What techniques did they use to capture it?

If I were to recommend theory books, I would say “The Film Photography Handbook” for analog photography and “The Photographers Eye” for digital photography.

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

As cliche as this will sound, I think the world around me inspires me. Somedays I’m inspired by a news article, other days by the way the light shines through the leaves in the forest. It depends.

Sarah Fuchs

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Learn From Experience: Giorgia Bisanti

Giorgia Bisanti born in Naples in 1994. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts of Naples in Scenography in 2017 and specialized in Photography as a language of Art in 2020. Her artistic research ranges between the themes of personal and collective memory, perception, the relationship between man and landscape. In her vision, photography is a language that is never realistic and objective, but a tool to reach the truth that lies within ourselves. In 2017 she is part of the group exhibition Moments of Color at the Blank Wall Gallery in Athens. In 2018 her first solo exhibition with the project Impossible Places at Area 35 mm. The following year is part of the collective exhibition Vesuvius. The new Dawn, exhibited at the MAV in Ercolano, coordinated by photography teacher Fabio Donato. Again in 2019: she is one of the artists selected for the contemporary art festival Survival at the Contemporary Art Museum of Casoria directed by Antonio Manfredi, she is among the 12 winners of the NANA Onlus competition. In 2020 she is present in various collective exhibitions in Italy such as: #spazioFOTOcopia, XIV edition, at Magazzini Fotografici (Naples), the exhibition #interminati_spazi organized by the Domori company as part of its project “Domori e la fotografia, Restituire il tempo alla fotografia. Spaces and places for a new poetics of the image” exhibited in Turin and curated by the artist Maurizio Galimberti. Finally she will participate in the exhibition curated by Antonio Manfredi, Pandemic Art at the CAM in Casoria.

What are the rules of your photographic work?

I don’t think I can define the rules of my photographic work. Putting rules from a creative point of view actually blocks me, I find it also counterproductive. The moment I’m approaching a new work, something creative is just when I can leave behind the rules and rely on the intuition that I’m going to build something that could be valid. I do photographic research, every time I start a work I am ready to question everything I have seen or done before. If I stopped to take photographs that simply respect the rules, I would probably carry out a sterile practice. The rules can be references, I’m not saying that you don’t need to apply them but if you feel the need, it’s okay to go further and test yourself, it’s a bit like a challenge; sometimes it’s the rules that beat you, other times you are the one who won over them.

The only real rule that I believe exists is to practice, to study, to go all the way, to give validity to what you are doing. In this case I can say that my fundamental rule is to give as much value as I can to what I do, not be content with a “beautiful image”.

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes a difference?

I don’t think there are any techniques or tools that can make the difference between me and another person who practices photography. What makes the difference is mastering a certain technique or a certain instrument so that we can express what we want to say without being overwhelmed by it. The skill I believe lies in making this technique or instrument “transparent”. Let me explain better: I believe that we really succeed in the intent of our work when those who see it are not sent back to the technique or instrument used, but to the message we want to convey, if there is one. 

Tell us about an experience that has definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.

I feel relatively young to answer such a question, I know I have to mature many other experiences but I can say that my way of looking at photography and consequently making it has changed the day I discovered an online Moma course called “Seeing Trough Photographs”. It was 2017, that experience opened up a new world for me, I discovered some types of languages that I feel closer to, for example the conceptual one, and I like to work with. 

Also visiting the “Foam” photography museum in Amsterdam when Hiroshi Sugimoto’s works were on display was an incredible experience that infused me with a new love for this medium.

Has there ever been a difficult situation? How did you react? tell us.

I often live difficult situations when it comes to my job. Sometimes you work on ideas that seem to lead to nothing, other times you finish projects but you don’t know if you really said everything you had in mind, but in the end nothing is really finished as long as you have time. Often I have had periods of “blockage”, of insecurity; how did I react? Trying to feel and follow what was transmitting passion to me in that moment, not to repress the creative stimulus for the fear of not making it, but to give me the chance to do things little by little, committing myself every day, trying to listen more to myself. You have to climb the steps one at a time to get to the top of the skyscraper and enjoy the view.

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you see?

The subjects of my photographs are often objects or images; one of the reasons why I am fascinated by photography is its ability to preserve memories, as well as objects. Memory, in fact, is one of the main themes on which I work. When I act in this way many times I am emotionally involved with what I am dealing with, in this case it is not easy to find a direction, I try to find something that links the various images, the various objects, so as to involve in the same way who will look at my work.

I also ask you to share a bonus trick between your secret techniques.

What helps me many times to carry on a work is the direct and material contact with the images, to have the possibility to look at them from different angles, to be able to intervene on them, to have almost like a “relationship” with them, to spend time together. It can happen that the mere digital vision of an image, through a screen, detaches us too much from it and does not give us the possibility to see the many opportunities it can give us. I don’t know if this can be defined as a secret technique, in fact it certainly isn’t, but it is certainly worth trying.

Tell us about your equipment, with what kind of shooting machines? 

I started shooting with a mid-range DSLR at the age of 16, but then when I decided to get “serious” with photography I bought a mirrorless camera from Fujifilm, for me it is very important to have my equipment at hand, always carry the camera with me and not feel it as a burden, in the true sense of the word. I’m not one of those people who goes out on the street and takes pictures of everything, but at the same time I want to have the peace of mind to be able to take a picture if there is something that interests me. The camera, whether it’s a cell phone camera or not, remains a medium that I use to take notes, to fix tracks, to capture clues that will speak to me when I need them.

Generally when I work on a specific project I end up shooting in my small studio and I don’t necessarily always use the same equipment, I like to experiment with the rendering of images through different types of cameras, whether digital, analog, snapshots, use off camera techniques, or even appropriate images that are not mine. 

Are there any books you would recommend?

Absolutely, I believe that any book, even one that doesn’t talk about photography, I can help in the development of my own research. However, if I were to recommend books that have been fundamental for me, I would say they are those by or about Luigi Ghirri (e.g. Kodachrome, Breakfast on the Grass, Photography Lessons), Germano Celant’s monograph on Vik Muniz, Charlotte Cotton’s book “Photography as Contemporary Art”.

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

Everything can inspire me; it is the life I live every day that gives me creative stimuli: the world around me, people, art, music, science, personal experience. Sometimes it can happen that sparks are triggered, something that pushes me to want to give back an emotion or an experience through my art.

Giorgia Bisanti

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Learn From Experience: Rebecca Dorothy

Rebecca Dorothy was born in Rome in 1993. Since her childhood , she cultivated her passion for photography. As she got older she began to move more and more into the realms of erotic photography which is what swayed her decision in a move to Berlin – to be able to better express herself freely with her art . Rebecca Dorothy explores the body and sensuality in a overwhelming sea of colors, focusing first on her own body with the many self-portraits then entering into the most intimate and secret moments of lovers , friends and acquaintances. Her pictures tell stories, merging between reality and fantasy, love and passion, nudity and costume .

Which are the rules of your photographic work?

My main rules are: positive vibes, collaboration and feeling.

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes a difference?

To have the best quality you really have to take care of every little detail. That’s why sometimes you can see the difference when you work in a team and everyone takes care of their assigned field.

Tell us about an experience that has definitely changed the way you work and made you growing.

There hasn’t yet been this experience that has upset me so much that I have grown up. For now I take every experience as useful and as an incentive for growth.

Has there ever been a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.

I think that the life of an artist is almost always difficult and never with constant satisfaction. I think that being an artist is like a roller coaster of moments of glory and happiness to moments of total depression and frustration. I think this is the most difficult and constant condition of my life.

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you see?

I try to find out before the start of the photographic project I try to explore the places to be photographed and become familiar. With the subjects I do the same, I always try to meet first with the people to be photographed to break the ice and to try to trigger the spark. When shooting then I always try to create a familiar and comfortable ambiance to make my model feel comfortable.

I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.

My trick bonus especially for self-portraits lovers is: keep the camera with your feet down while keeping the shutter speed very high. The result is very interesting and the blurred effect will not disappoint you.

Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with? 

For digital I use a Canon 5D Mark IV and for analog a Canon Prima Af-8 but I often like to experiment with old machines found or given away. Some of my most iconic shots are also with my IPhone. I suppose that phone photography is the most used nowadays and even if the quality and the process are not comparable to shots with professional cameras, I think that this kind of photography is sometimes very comfortable and especially discreet.

Are there any books you would recommend?

I recommend this very interesting essay by Roland Barthes “La chambre claire” which contains digressions and reflections on the art of photography. The author takes into consideration various photographs, taken by various artists including Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Nadar and Niépce, and commenting on them, he draws inspiration from photography. In addition, he distinguishes three fundamental elements of photographic art:

  • The operator or operator, the one who takes the photo.
  • The spectator, that is, the user, the spectator.
  • The spectrum that is the subject immortalized.

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

My creativity is stimulated by the new, the different, the change. A monotonous and static life does not inspire me. That’s why I need to travel and explore.

A constant source of inspiration, however, is light. No matter where I am or what I am doing, light always brings creativity and ideas.

For example, I have to thank the sun, which after weeks of rain here in Paris, came back and literally illuminated me and allowed me to create my latest limited edition gadget “Virtual Muse”.

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