Interview: Photographer Günter Hagedorn (Germany)
Interviews / Stories
Tell us something about yourself
I’m a freelance software developer and graphic designer. As a programmer, I’m primarily working on web based content management systems and database applications. My design skills are used for all sorts of web and print layout work as well as photoshop compositing and beauty retouching. I was born in 1971 and am living in Hamburg, Germany.
How and when did you get into photography?
Back in the nineties I was mainly into video and 3d animation. I, however, noticed that you’re watching a video not that often once it’s finished. Photos on the other hand are looked at much more frequently. Moreover, when sitting in front of a computer the whole day you get to talk to people on the phone and via email, but you lack the personal contact. So, in order to change this situation, I came up with the idea of buying a camera and getting into people photography.
Finally, in October 2003, I went to Canada with my wife for vacation. On this occasion, I bought a Canon 10D DSLR camera to take my first pictures. I must have taken about 4000 photographs in this two-week period and I loved it. During this trip, I shared the idea of photographing people with my wife. When she asked what kind of pictures I was thinking of, naturally – being a man – I answered nude photography.
Right after the trip I wasn’t really interested in looking at all the images taken during the journey so I placed the camera in the drawer and forgot about it. Well... until Christmas. My wife got me a book on nude photography and booked me into a nude photography workshop. Well, I never actually went to that workshop since having no clue about photography, aperture or working with subjects wasn’t the ideal basis to attend a workshop like this. But that’s when I started experimenting and shooting.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I’m not sure if I really have a defined or specific style. I like to try new things all the time and experiment with light, shadows and colors. I do everything from portrait to nude or fashion to beauty photography. I must admit, however, that weddings and events are not my specialty. I’m more an one-on-one kinda guy looking for emotions and expression.
What does photography mean to you?
This seems to be an easy question at the first sight, but in fact, it is not. Is it a hobby? Is it a passion? Is it a way of expression? Is it a getaway? I guess it’s part of everything. For me it’s kind of an escape from daily work and a possibility to bring my own ideas to life. Working with a team of creative people from different crafts and beautiful models is pure fun. I love all these little details that make an image special.
Where do you get inspiration from?
The world is full of inspiration. It’s hard not to get influenced by the art you see everywhere – especially in times of facebook, pinterest and instagram. I’m trying not to get influenced too much to still can leave space for my own ideas. Being flooded with so much good work can sometimes be hindering to come up with original ideas.
Do you think in advance about what you want in the picture?
Every shooting is different and this very much depends on the specific task as well as the way my subject is actively participating in the shooting.
Sometimes I have an image in mind but with a talented model, these ideas are changing, gradually developing and improved during the process. I also enjoy to start with no clue at all and to see where the shooting takes us.
Studio, on location or both?
I do own a little studio where I also built two little furnished rooms to work in. But I actually prefer to work outside or on location as each place adds its own magic to the final image. But again, it all depends on the idea of the image and it is the purpose of the background to strengthen the overall mood.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
My sourrounding sees me as a professional, as I’m doing workshops on studio lighting as well as retouching. In fact I’ve also written a book on portrait and nude photography. But to be honest, I want to keep photography as a hobby and not professionalise it any further than I’ve done already. My spare time is very limited and I don’t want to spoil that with implementing mainly other peoples’ ideas.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
Oh, I really don’t know. Every shooting is special to me. In the past I thought that working with a huge team and creating images that are printed in magazines should be my main goal. But it turns out I find the private intimate sessions with just one model far more enjoyable.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
You want names? There are so many creative people out there. It would be unfair to name just one or two. And it also very much depends on the genre.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
I have been a Canon user since the beginning and it’s not easy to switch to a different setup because of all the money I already spent on equipment. I’d love to try middle format at some point and I also enjoy working with old manual russian lenses from time to time. But my main workhorse is the Canon 5DSR and the 70-200mm 2.8 lens. I can change from a total to a closeup in a fraction of a second that gives me the freedom I like. Many people I know are currently switching to 35mm lenses. I tried, but it just looks wrong to me through the viewfinder.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
Try to work with natural light and simple setups. You don’t have to have expensive equipment to get great images. It’s the ideas that make the difference and technology can’t help you with that. Less knowledge sometimes is also a blessing, as perfectionism can block your creativity to a great extent.
What do you think of our new magazine?
I think, it’s a great idea to do interviews with today’s creative people. I’m visiting your site quite often. I am keen to read about some new photographers I didn’t know so far as well as to get some background information on some of the artists I already know for some time. Keep up the good work!