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Some statements for my students:

Guest-Prof. Christian von der Eltz
College for Art & Design, Shanghai

About Creativity.

"Creativity starts there, where normal thinking ends".
What does that mean?

About Photography...

"Photography means to see "the world" with other eyes. It needs cognitive abilities first. The rest is pure talent and own creativity; connections, the chance to do it. And at least ...experience. All others is a skilled manual job, you can learn in a university. Perhaps 25%..., if we talk about Art-Photography. Who wants to say, what is right...what is wrong?... and perhaps 50%, if we talk about commercial visual marketing...communication. (These are formal principles, is technic and light management...) Learn to look and note."

About "the best and most expensive camerea..."

"No, it is not a Hasselblad, a Phase One, a Nikon, or a Canon ... It is the human eye. With every blink it makes a picture, you capture. A better camera produce only a better quality, but not better pictures... What is the prize for a eye? For a camera I can say that very precise...

About "professionalism."

"To make good pictures or to handle photo equipment perfectly is not all to call it professional. The same as in any other commercial artist jobs. It is more the knowledge and experience around a project. Know what you shoot and what you do... and why and how and for what...and for whom...?

About perfection.

"Perfection starts already with the pre-phase of a shooting. Later mistakes are mostly expensive."

What is a photostudio?

Seriously? Nothing others than simple empty space you can create a photoset with lightrooms. Can be a industry hall, can be an apartment, or temporary a hotel room. Whatever. It is what you say, that it is. More huge is always better? Say who? I don`t think so. Smaller studios have more privacy. Do what is needed not what is possible. It is also a question of costs for the customer. But normaly professional people can shoot nearly everywhere. Makes no different. Work for the result and not the show."

How to become successful?

"Answer: Right decisions. Question: How to make right decisions? Answer: Experience. Question: How to get experience? Answer: Wrong decisions... Perhaps the reason why the best are over Has something to do with life experience..."

About Riskmanagement.

"Do, what you control and do for what you can take the full responsibility and consequences. All others needs trust. You have? More people, higher risks..."


Especially in China people ask how many "hundreds people" count your team? For this people tI have a good question: "How many people can look threw a camera at the same time...? How many people see, what the photographer see?" Teamplanning should be flexible and depent on expenditure. And a professional photographer is not only a good photographer..." He is stage director!

About Photoshop.

"You are photographer or you are retoucher? If you need photoshop for a picture you can sale, you are not good enough as a photographer. Very easy. It is a question of job honor and philosophy. Composing with photoshop is a complete own story with a complete other context direction. Should be..."

About models.

"It`s crazy. The most people judge the models first in a picture. Why? It is...! A model is the eye catcher in a commercial advertising and with it the face of a campaign. Face, product, image-scene and later the copy should match. If not, the people will feel...something is wrong. They only don`t know...why? This is also your responsibility...

About people portrait photography.

"A personal people portrait shoot is complete different. Actually it should be a character shoot. The person with all individual features stands in the midpoint. Depent on what you want to show, is what you do during the shooting."

So, the job is to discover the character, the personality and different faces first in a talk.. Perhaps there is to fix or to tell also a life step or a life story. The reason why it may not drift away in a beauty- and fashion shoot.
Wrong understandling...

The customer have mostly no experience in front of a camera. They are normal people and... nobody is perfect. Look for the balance between professionalism and perfection. This is the challenge.

If you shoot in color, you show the dress. If you shoot in black/white you show the person..."

About campaign- and product photography.

"Show what you sale or sale what you show..."

What is the most difficult shooting theme?

"I would say: Food. Very clear. In no other theme photographer work with so many tricks as in food photography. What I do and what I show is the result from excellent teamwork and many years experience as a photographer. I dont need that...Never."

About Medialaw...

"International Medialaw protects artists work generally. Any art business has his own rules. Also for photographer. First there is the creator law for composing. Second there is the license law for publishing. Third there is the personal right for private people and the commercial commitment for modelwork (Model release). All should be fixed first in the proposal and later in a license contract. The photographer alone has any right to make decisions about photo artwork using in a contract. Before the contract is not complete fulfilled from customers side, there is no right to touch or publish the result. If the customers side want to change the using right, also the terms of conditions will change automaticly. The customers side has to announce by theirself. All others is against media law. Professional brand companies know that all. They work with 4aaaa level agencies and have experience. They respect the law."

About money talks...

"Some companies think, a photographer has a ready price list to answer any question about costs at once. But a shooting needs an idea, a creative concept, preparing and organization. And customer should know, the costs are always a mix from shooting fee and license costs (Medialaw). How can we talk at once about costs without an exactly creative briefing and media planning? A shooting needs budget planning. The job is to know all facts first for a later detailed calculation. Or you only offer standard packages. All others is gambling. But never work without any commitment."

About business culture.

There are own rules. And they based on trust and respect.

CEA Pictures: by Christian von der Eltz

Executive Creative Director and Head of Photography
powered by: CEA Communication + Creative Connections Ltd.
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