And we are back with yet another exclusive insight into the life of a professional photographer. This time, we have Victor Hamke, a German fine art and wedding photographer with an eye for soulful, silent pictures. Read on to find out what it takes to be him.
- Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where do you live and where are you from? How long has photography been a hobby or career of yours and what motivated you to get started?
Hey, my name is Victor and I’m from Germany. I have been involved in photography for a few years and started out with just buying a cheap consumer DSLR. I had saved up some money to get an eye surgery but instead decided to spend it on something which would enable me to create things – a camera. At first it was just some playing around but things changed quickly when I discovered that it offers my a new language to express myself.
- Did you take any professional course in Photography or went to any of the Photography schools?
I am completely self-taught, as many of my colleagues. I think that it’s not important if you have learned photography in school or educated yourself. The most important thing is that you put a lot of dedication, work and time into what you do – the rest will follow.
- Artists you looked upon in your initial stages in this field?
I can’t really remember what my first inspirations were as there were plenty of those. When you start to do your own thing your view on foreign art changes dramatically.
- Since when did you begin your journey as a Fine Art/Wedding Photographer?
Well, difficult to determine a concrete starting point. The thing I call Fine Art started maybe 2 years ago when I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and get creative in a different way. It was (and is) a lot of trial and error, but that is part of the fun. With wedding photography I just started in 2015 as the matter was of bigger interest for quite some time.
Fine Art is not the easiest way to create income
- Tell us about your Photography Equipment?
Nowadays I only use Fuji film gear. I have several Fuji X-T1 cameras and different lenses (I mainly use the 23mm 1.4 and 56mm 1.2). I also have some flash gear, reflectors, tripods and stuff but all of those are optional and get used rather seldomly. I love flat available light in combination with different post-processing techniques.
- What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
My tablet of course. 🙂
- Mac or PC, your preference and why?
I use PC but the reason for that is only that I’m accustomed to it and didn’t make the switch so far. I can easily imagine that this will change in the future.
- Do you have eyes on any particular new equipment which you would like to acquire?
Yes, I would like to get a digital medium format camera which I will acquire at some point in my life. As this investment is very heavy and at the moment, really unnecessary! I will do that at a later point.
- What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue their career in wedding/Fine Art Photography?
Stay critical to your own work. Strive and don’t settle down thinking your work is phenomenal. I’m the one that’s pushing myself the most and it helps to evolve. When I get a feeling of stagnation I make a break for weeks or months. Sometimes that helps to reset your mind and creativity.
The most challenging thing for me is to create images in my mind that set themselves free from all I’ve seen before
- Photography is a Great Hobby but a Bad Career. Your views?
Depends. On many things. First and foremost on your ability to create something that others are willing to pay for. Then you have to accept that marketing in different forms is part of your existence. Many artists don’t like that and I can’t fault them for that. But it is what it is. Something else would be the genre. Fine Art is not the easiest way to create income – that is for sure. Wedding photography on the other hand is rather easily able to feed you.
- According to you what is the most challenging thing in creating Fine Art Images?
The most challenging thing for me is to create images in my mind that set themselves free from all I’ve seen before. We consume so much pictures day by day that our work gets stale and uninspiring if we don’t pay attention to this.
- Talk us through your thought process while doing a wedding shoot. How much work goes into the preparation of your photography? How you make your model comfortable and make them strike such natural pose? Where do the ideas come from and what steps do you find yourself moving through to bring the idea to execution?
A wedding shoot is very dependent on the personality of the couple. Some are shy, some are confident. I try to be sensitive and make them feel comfortable. I tell them what I want to do and what I will do – after that I mostly get a little calmer and let them feel each other. In a perfect world they would totally relax but this is often not going to happen. I often get really close (I jokingly call that a three-way romance sometimes) and create physical contact by laying my hand on their shoulder for example. I then take pictures as I see them unfold in front of me. Different angles with great attention to tactile connections and details. Intimacy is a great part of my photography.
- Editing images is considered as cheating with arguments like “Photography is not an art” frequently popping up. Your views?
My view is entirely different. I’m working towards an imagination which is in my mind – and I’m okay with every tool to achieve that. I wrote an essay some time ago about the correlation between paintings and digital photography / digital art. For me there is no need to separate things as I don’t define myself through certain tools I use but through my way of seeing things. Art is a difficult term and for me it is senseless to discuss if something is art or not. Rather it is important if something speaks to your heart, evokes emotions or moves you.
- You have this picture featured on Photography Website which looks so eerie yet so beautiful. Tell us about it.
It is a more atypical image in my portfolio. It is less subtle and very fairytale-esque. I wanted to do something in the style of Disney movies. To scare a little but set everything into a romantic setting. I lend the idea of the swing from a famous painting by Fragonard and later added the creepy hands around the tree. As many other pictures of mine it was a lot of trial and error and I collected the pieces for this one on various occasions. It has a very heavy visual language with strong colors and dark tonalities. It was meant to be like that but it is an exception in my portfolio and very different from the more recent work I did.
- What are the key point’s one must keep in mind to capture a perfect portrait?
Oh, I don’t even dare to say what a perfect portrait is. For me it is very important that a portrait is emotive. Some say that a good portrait reveals something from the subject that is inherent. I’m not sure though as it could as well just strike the viewer in a certain way – for that it doesn’t have to show the real character of the subject. A good portrait surely keeps your attention for a few seconds and makes you guess.
- You’ve learnt the most from….?
Observation. Sometimes you have to slow down and observe critically and thoughtfully. That applies to my composing as well as the work of other artists. Stay and watch and try to grab the essence of what fascinates you and what does push you away. You will learn so much by just looking closely enough.
- If you could ask yourself one question about your photography what would it be and why?
What is that something that I’m still missing no matter how hard I try? As I’m sure that this something exists.
- If someone says “How can I be next Victor Hamke?” What would you say?
Who would ask this? Rather you should say “How can I be the best version of myself?“ – and that’s where things get interesting.
- Why don’t you show our viewers your 5 photographs which are closest to your heart?