We received many impressive photos from dedicated photographers for our Datacolor photo contest about travel and landscape photography that took place in Germany during summer 2017. Our jury had a hard time selecting the five winning images, as so many photos would have deserved to be awarded. In order to savor these wonderful images, we will present some of these pictures in our blog from time to time, introduce you to the photographer and tell the story behind the image.
Name: Thorsten Geisser
Vita: I was born in Kassel on February 2, 1968, where I did an apprenticeship as a heating and ventilation fitter. After my time in the German Army and different jobs I started working in retail, and still do.
When did you start your photography?
Back in 2009, I met my wife who owned a Canon camera. I enjoyed photography a lot and purchased my first camera in 2010. My first full format camera was bought in 2014 and that’s when I seriously started my photography. I watched tons of videos and taught myself everything in terms of photography and photo editing. I set up my own studio in 2016 and turned professional mid 2017. My wife supports me wherever she can and is quite often my assistant on set.
Is photography your hobby or your profession?
My job in retail still pays for my rent and food. At this stage, I still see this as a big advantage because I can take on free assignments without any payment. Since the number of paid jobs started increasing, I decided to register a business.
How and where was the image taken which you entered to the competition? Is there a story about it?
There is indeed a story to this image. When I was young, the movie Gladiator came out and there is this one scene where the protagonist is standing in the middle of a field, touching the crops. This image was burnt into my memory, as it was a symbol for freedom to me. In 2016, I decided to transport this feeling into an image. On Facebook, I started looking for a model. Over 60 applications came in and I remember how tough it was for me to make a decision. Svenja Ülsberg made it to the last round and we met for a trial shooting. The weather couldn’t have been worse that day – it was windy, rainy and very cold, but Svenja rocked up on time and in a cheerful mood. We spent about an hour freezing, but managed to get a few incredible images. That’s when I decided to realize this project with Svenja.
We had to wait for summer though, in order to get the colors and temperature right. The original plan was to use a costume of a female warrior, but a good two weeks before the shooting, we decided to go for this fabulous Indian costume instead. On our actual shooting day, we were lucky enough to have perfect weather conditions and the fields we had scouted beforehand were perfectly lit. That’s how this and a few more images in this series came about.
Who and/or what inspires you most?
Robert Maschke has been an inspiration for a long time and I still appreciate his work. His images are very gloomy and he is the reason I drag every model into a parking garage in order to photograph with a small reflector and available light only. People often give me that look when I tell them that I like using parking garages for my shootings, but I have to say that some of my best photos were taken this way. That’s when I decided to go my own way and stop caring what others had to say, in order to pursue my own ideas. When I start running out of ideas, platforms like Pinterest are an inspiration to me. I then try to implement these ideas into my very own style.
What’s your photographic focus?
At home, we have 4 beautiful Maine Coon cats who often work as my models and I absolutely love animals, but I decided to work with people nonetheless. That’s why my photographic focus is portrait photography.
What’s your next photo project, your next challenge?
I have many projects in the pipeline, be it a water shooting with a model wearing an evening gown or a shooting in a well-known German fortress. A stone quarry is another location I would like to try and there are some more ideas. At the moment though, I want to focus on my studio. I am privileged enough to be allowed to use a former apartment just one floor above my own home as a studio. I still have quite a bit to learn in terms of lighting, as this really is an entirely new league to me. Anything I cannot do personally annoys me, so I like to study in order to become better.
Do you include color management in you photographic workflow?
Color management is of utmost importance to me. Photography itself accounts for about 20% of my workflow. That means 80% comes down to post processing on my computer and that’s where colors play a vital role. People keep telling me that there is a certain signature to my photos. The reason is not the way I photograph, but the way I work with colors. I believe that 80% of the time, somebody finds my photos appealing or not, due to colors. I only own a Spyder4, but I religiously calibrate my two displays every 4 weeks.
What do you do with your photos? Do you print them, post them on your social media accounts or your website, or do they simply stay on your hard drive?
My images do of course end up on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and on my own website. Some of my images also exist as large format prints and are a lovely decor in our kitchen and in my studio. Svenja’s picture of the Indian found a spot in our kitchen in a size of 1,20m and several of my images found a spot in my office. To me, a print is the ultimate achievement in photography and I would love to own more walls so I could hang large format prints up.
What’s your photographic goal? what do you dream of?
I would like to reach out to more people and inspire them. It would be fantastic if there was enough money left to make a living, but in reality that’s not often the case. I didn’t study photographic engineering or do a photographic apprenticeship. I don’t see myself as a Photoshop professional or anything like that either. I process 90% of my images simply based on gut feeling and I often encounter harsh criticism, but I am fine with that. I am a proud autodidact. I would be already happy if my standard job could be reduced to a part-time position and my photography was able to account for the rest of my living expenses, without having to feel the permanent pressure. That’s something for me to work on and my
goal as such. And if I manage to leave behind some images one day, that would be the greatest achievement.