“I always rise to a challenge.” – photographer Hartmut Norenberg
Hartmut, can you tell us about yourself and your photographic background? Hey. My name is Hartmut Nörenberg. I’m a Photographer and post-production Artist based in Düsseldorf, Germany. I started to take photos when I was a child. But back then it was nothing serious. My father is a hobby-photographer that likes trains and so he took me with him on his tours. I bought my first own camera when I was 17 to take pictures of my girlfriend. It started as a hobby for us and got more serious after 1 year when I started to do little shootings with different friends and some amateur models. At that time I got more ambitious in retouching a digital post-production and started to practice with my own images before I got involved in different retouching-projects.
How would you describe your photographic style? This question is tricky because I don’t think that I have „a style“. What I see in my pictures is a clear structure of image elements and most of the time the face of a pretty person in a tidy image composition.
What is it that you want your viewer to take away from your works? I want my viewers to have a glimpse into my „world“. While shooting I see a lot of different potential images and so I have to decide which point of view will be the final one, which expression and what pose of the model will work best. It’s more like a search that ends with the presentation of the final edited image to the viewer.
What fascinates and motivates you most being a photographer? Working at different locations and meeting a lot of new people makes me happy. Every new client is a new challenge that I have to accept while working with different teams. I always rise to a challenge.
Where do you take your ideas for your shoots, what is the source of inspiration? Every day I spend some time looking at advertisement-newsletters and new artworks on deviantart/tumblr. From time to time I have a look on my own inspirational database that I have been building up for the last 10 years. Most of the inspirational images are saved into an iPhoto catalogue and are sorted by different aspects. In the last months I also started to like Pinterest more and more.
What makes a shoot successful? How do you usually prepare for a shoot? A shooting is successful when the client/art director is deeply contented and loves my visual interpretation of the task to work at. On personal projects I feel successful when all the ingredients of the final image-composition from my mind come together and form the image that I wanted to create.
For every shooting I check my gear and prepare the lighting set up I want to test first. Calling the team to check if everything is working as planned is also very important to me. Sometimes I do a test-shooting some days before the job. That’s usually the time to shoot with new models.
What has been your most memorable moment in your career so far? What’s the project you are most proud of? One of the most memorable moments for me was the opening of my second exhibition. It was unbelievable to have so many people there that were interested in seeing my pictures in a large format and not only tiny on my website. It is a complete different feeling to see my own images printed.
Tell us, what are the most difficult aspects of professional photography? I think the most difficult part of professional photography is making a living from it. From my experience there are a lot of awesome photographers out there that are capable of creating phenomenal images. The problem is reaching a client with your own work and get paid appropriately for the job. A lot of younger photographers are doing commercial jobs for free to get more exposure. From my point of view they are destroying their own future. Not getting paid for a commercial job means that you pay your client for working with you.
What essential qualities or skill set make a good photographer? As a good photographer you not need only visual skills to take a good photo. You also have to be good at dealing with clients, agencies and models. Social intercourse and proper handling of Equipment are also very important. Building up some retouching or post-production skills is also very handy because it enables you to talk more detailed to people working with your images for the final product.
From your point of view, what role do image editing programs play in today’s photography? Image editing has been a huge part of modern photography. Since the break from an analogue to a mainly digital workflow digital image editing programs like Photoshop built the foundation of the picture style that is accepted by most agencies and clients. Even in smartphones image editing is possible and done by a lot of people.
From my perspective Photoshop is a tool to achieve a special look in a picture, do retouching or do something that is completely impossible with photography only or simply unaffordable.
In your opinion, how your work has evolved over the last few years? When I worked as a photography assistant I was told to search for the right natural light and have a look for the right lighting on location. At that time I was only able to see the right lighting condition at a special location or built up a set in the studio. Now I am able to plan whole sets in advance and shoot 12 fashion sets a day if the client has a tight schedule. Changing from 35mm digital to digital medium format was also a huge step in the right direction for me. I take fewer pictures and need less time to find my favourite pictures from a set.
What are you working on right now? What are your future ambitions? At the moment I work as a Freelance Photoshop 2D-Artist at a CGI Post-Production house. Working in complex CGI pipeline with other awesome artists empowered my skills. My plan is to bring my Photography and CGI together. But at the moment this is a dream of the future.
Next year I want to travel to some special locations in Europe and shoot more Fashion editorials.
What are some tips/advice you would give to yourself if you started photography all over again?
Tip 1: Do what you like and tell your clients your true opinion. They will appreciate it.
Tip 2: Don’t be afraid of hard light.
Tip 3: Don’t ever buy some cheap rip-off Equipment. Buy the original. Rip Offs are not for everyday work.
Tip 4: Believe in your team. They believe in you.
Tip 5: Bring a Leatherman to every shooting. You are going to need it.
Where can we hear more from you or see more of your work?