Sankt Petersburg under Construction

As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve been to Sankt Petersburg, Russia recently. And while it’s an immensely beautiful city offering way more sights than you can possibly take in during one vacation, one thing stood out: Sankt Petersburg was under construction.

It started when I went to visit the first cathedrals on my list. Transfiguration Cathedral: Hidden in scaffolding except the dome. Oh well. I can live with that, it’s not that extraordinary anyway, let’s head right for the big one: Our Saviour on Spilled Blood. As I approached the Saviour, the first thing that jumped out at me was the central tower being hidden in scaffolding. At this point I started to get frustrated. Later in the day, after appropriately oohing and aahing at the impressive colonnades of Kazan Cathedral, I rounded the building to find the main church covered in scaffolding. At this point, I decided the city hated me.

But as I continued finding churches, monuments and landmarks hidden by scaffolding throughout the week, I started to see the humor in it. I decided to dedicate my Instagram stream to „under construction“ pictures only for the duration of my visit. Of course there was an insane amount of beautiful stuff that was not under construction, but I tried making a game of it. And yes, sooner or later (once I get through the dreadful culling process and manage to suppress my impostor syndrome), I’m going to show you the beautiful parts of the city. I promise.

So, since you undoubtedly came here for photographic advice (lol), here’s today’s lesson: Try to accept adversity with a dash of humor. Laugh about it. Chances are, if you don’t get to shoot one location due to whatever circumstances, you’ll find another. And you can always come back later. Like, seriously. Once all those renovations are done (like, 2021?), Sankt Petersburg will look brand spanking new. Go there. Visit it. I definitely will.

Frustration (or, a short treatise on photography blogging)

Anyone notice how I haven’t been blogging in months?

Yeah, thought so. But anyway.

So why is that? Not that no one noticed, but that I haven’t been writing anything for anyone to notice? And if it seems to you like I only use this blog to bitch about my inability to blog consistently, you’re not wrong; but keep reading, because I’ll actually get to a different subject after this introduction. I swear.

Part of the problem obviously is that frustrating idea of shouting into the void – why write for a blog nobody cares about, right? On the other hand, yeah, why should anyone care about a blog that’s devoid of content and doesn’t get regular posts? So yeah, totally my own fault.

The other – actually bigger – part of the problem is subject matter. Like, I literally can’t think of something interesting to blog about. So I look to other photography blogs for inspiration (this is where I finally stop navel gazing and discuss an actual topic) and that in itself is becoming an exercise in frustration. For numerous reasons.

  1. The repetition. Oh, the repetition. I have quite a number of big photo blogs in my RSS feed and the redundancy is appalling. Something big (not not so big, but interesting or amusing or enraging) happens in the world of photography, and every photo blog has a story about it. And while that makes complete sense (after all, news events aren’t exclusive to one newspaper either), it makes scrolling through my feed feel like navigating a hall of mirrors. And yes, a lot of these issues or news items interest or amuse or enrage me too, sometimes enough that I start formulating my own post about it, only to stop. Because why should I add to the noise by regurgitating stuff in my own words that I’ve already seen half a dozen people regurgitate in their words? And that’s without even mentioning the hundreds of cases where one blogger actually comes up with something original and every other photo blogger and their dog post a slightly reworded version of the original post.
  2. The clickbait. Oh, the clickbait. You’ve all seen it. „Three mistakes every photographer makes“, „Five essential accessories you NEED in your camera bag“, „Ten incredibly creative portrait ideas“, etc etc. It feels like half the content on photography blogs these days is written by Buzzfeed. And you know what’s even worse? The worst part is that, dumb fuck that I am, I keep falling for it, thinking „Hey, these guys have a successful with tens of thousands of readers, they obviously know their shit“ and „Well, maybe one of those five accessories really is something I don’t know about“. And like a complete sucker I click on and scroll though the hundredth article telling me that „THE SECRET TO GETTING TACK SHARP PHOTOS“ is using a fucking tripod. Thank you, Captain Obvious. And don’t even get me started on the trend of labeling every fifteen minute video tutorial a „masterclass“ these days…
  3. Which brings me nicely to the third problem, which is the basics. Oh, the basics. Sometimes I feel like if I see another post praising a tutorial explaining Rembrandt lighting as if it was the epitome of new hot shit, I’ll scream. And that’s the moderately advanced stuff. I mean, there are people out there writing several pages long guides on back button focus. I actually saw ads for an ebook about BBF. Let that sink in. A book about freaking BACK BUTTON FOCUS. Like, what did the author even fill the pages with after writing „Use the button on the back of your camera to focus so you can focus and recompose more easily, oh, and it also keeps you from accidentally refocusing when pressing the shutter release.“? And for a short moment, I ask myself „Why don’t I just blog about these basics, it’s easy enough that even I could do it?“ and I stop myself because, again, why add to the noise by regurgitating the same stuff that’s already been regurgitated a million times?

So yeah. Subject matter. Seriously, what is there to blog abut in a world that’s so saturated with photography blogs that seem to be turning into the same more every day?

So, ask me anything (well, anything related to my photography). Maybe you’ll give me a decent subject to blog about.

Shooting Day

Had a nice and beautiful shooting today in my little home studio. Now normally, I always preach letting photos lie for a few days after shooting so that when you start editing, you have a fresh eye. But I did a quick pre-cull to sort out flash misfires and focus failures and this one immediately grabbed my eye, so I decided to publish a little preview.

So, without any more fanfare, here’s my high key cowgirl :

What do you think? What do I need to fix?

Adobe, price hikes, legal issues, wah wah


Okay, so I know Adobe has fallen out of favor with a lot of people in the photography industry ever since their switch to a subscription based licensing model (disclaimer: I personally use Adobe’s Photography Bundle and am quite happy with it). But these last two weeks have seen the company receiving metric shit tons of bad press that, quite simply, is inaccurate, bad reporting, and/or just plain annoying.

„Adobe, price hikes, legal issues, wah wah“ weiterlesen


(english version below)

Jetzt darf ich endlich über die große Neuigkeit reden, die mich seit einer Woche fast platzen lässt. Eins von meinen Fotos ist auf dem Cover des neuen Photoshop User Magazine! Dazu im Innenteil ein kleines Feature mit drei weiteren Bildern und einem kurzen Interview.

Wow. Einfach nur wow. Damit hätte ich nun wirklich nie gerechnet – als die erste Mail vom Managing Editor Chris Main kam, dachte ich zuerst sogar an irgendeinen Scam. Und bis ich die Ausgabe in der Hand (ok, auf der Festplatte – es ist ein PDF-Magazin) hatte, konnte ich es immer noch nicht wirklich 100%ig glauben. Das ist mit Sicherheit das größte Kompliment, die größte Ehrung, die mir als Fotograf bisher zuteil wurde.

„Undercover“ weiterlesen

The Box of Fear

Raise your hand if you know the Box of Fear.

If you didn’t raise your hand, I’m certain you still know it by some other name. Because everybody has one. Maybe it’s the Box of Procrastination to you. It’s where the things end up that we should be doing, but for some reason don’t. Often that reason has to do with some kind of fear or anxiety (also quite often, we don’t admit that). We tell ourselves it’s laziness. Or maybe „the circumstances“ just aren’t right. Or we are so sure that we’re gonna do it tomorrow, we obviously can’t be afraid of it. For most of us, our tax returns are in that box (mine too, but since I’m no longer self-employed it’s not really a problem anymore).

But my Box of Fear is full of photographs.

It’s overflowing with RAW files, neatly sorted into folders on my hard drive and collections in my Lightroom catalog. Places I’ve been, things I’ve seen, stuff I want to share with the world. I really do. But I never did. Because you see, if I did, you would know I am a fraud. A talentless hack. Someone who shouldn’t hold a camera. Impostor Syndrome is a bitch. It’s always been part of me. Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it gets worse. Often I look at what I shot and it’s all just bland and uninspired to me.

„The Box of Fear“ weiterlesen


Wir Deutschen werden ja oft darum beneidet, dass unsere Sprache für wirklich alles ein passendes Wort kennt (von Wanderlust über Schadenfreude bis Fahrvergnügen). Aber manchmal haben uns andere Sprachen etwas voraus, in diesem Fall Russisch: штурмовщина.

Ein Überbleibsel aus der Sowjetzeit, bezeichnet Shturmovshchina (so die englische Transliteration) das panische Erledigen von Sachen in letzter Minute, die man warum auch immer ewig vor sich hin geschoben hat. Und das ist doch ein Gefühl, das wir alle kennen, oder? Ich würde mich selber ja zum König der Prokrastination (auch so ein schönes Wort) ausrufen, aber nicht mehr heute, vielleicht komme ich nächste Woche dazu oder so…

Und so stehe ich mal wieder am Anfang eines neuen Jahres und stelle fest, dass aus den guten Vorsätzen für 2018 wieder nichts geworden ist. Woher kommt mir das nur so bekannt vor… ach ja, richtig, weil’s Anfang letzten Jahres genau so war. Wenigstens lag das Blog nicht ganz brach, seit ich meine Instagram-Bilder automatisch hier crossposte (IFTTT sei Dank).

Ich muss 2019 echt mal shturmovshchinen, also stürmen, also, ihr wisst schon. Mehr Zeit ins Blog investieren. Über Reiseziele schreiben, vielleicht auch mal mehr über Technik, Equipment, Making Ofs. Was halt Fotografen-Blogs so machen, wenn sie nicht brachliegen. Und mich endlich meinem aufgeblähten Lightroom-Katalog stellen, der mir immer noch hämisch die Fotos aus Chernobyl vorhält, an die ich mich immer noch nicht herangewagt habe (scheiß Impostor-Syndrom). Und andere Reisen. Und Shootings. Und zahllose Konzerte. Und ich muss mich wirklich mal am Riemen reißen und aufhören, neue Bilder auf Halde zu produzieren, solange der Backlog nicht halbwegs abgearbeitet ist. Winter wäre ja eigentlich ne tolle Zeit dafür.

Drückt mir die Daumen.

#Chroma 1

Wie ihr vielleicht (aber wahrscheinlich nicht) mitbekommen habt, war ich Anfang Januar in Berlin, um bei einem Workshop mit Nick Fancher mitzumachen. Wer Nick nicht kennt: Er ist ein Fotograf aus Columbus, Ohio, der für seine experimentelle und kreative Lichtsetzung bekannt ist. Von ihm sind die Bücher Studio Anywhere und Studio Anywhere 2: Hard Light, die ich jedem, der sich für die Materie interessiert, nur wärmstens empfehlen kann. Im Sommer erscheint sein neues Buch Chroma, das, wie der Name schon andeutet, auf das Spiel mit Farben ausgelegt ist.

Eigentlich war für Berlin ein „Studio Anywhere“-Workshop angekündigt, aber nachdem alle Teilnehmer keinen Bock auf Grundlagen hatten, sondern vor allem Nicks Farbtechniken lernen wollten, hat er das ganze entsprechend angepasst und so kamen wir (mit etwas Improvisation) in den Genuss des allerersten „Chroma“-Workshops.

Star Girl

Nick hatte für den Tag zwei Models organisiert. Vormittags stand die bezaubernde Sydney LaFaire vor den versammelten Kameras. Nach ein paar Basics (Lichtformer, gerichtetes weiches Licht, invisible black background, Flash und Ambient ausbalancieren) wurde es dann auch recht schnell ziemlich bunt. Der Vormittag reichte erstmal für vier Techniken: „#Chroma 1“ weiterlesen