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Interview: Photographer Yannick von Grabowiecki (UK)

Tell us something about yourself

I am french and german and currently reside in the UK. So I speak all 3 languages which comes in handy during shoots or when traveling!

My main job is actually biomedical research. I have a PhD in molecular biology and work in cancer research for the government to better understand how this disease evolves.

How and when did you get into photography?

Since younger age, I was interested in talking pictures. With time, I started to try to make them better by choosing interesting angles, long exposures etc. I took pictures of virtually everything though. After my Master’s degree, I got the money to by a DSLR. Soon after, I bought more lenses, lights, reflectors etc. because I became interested in taking pictures of people.

As demand grew for it grew, I started giving photography workshops several years back, which is something I really enjoy doing, because in addition to make people happy with my pictures, I can also transmit my knowledge.

What does photography mean to you?

I guess it is a way for me to capture and express what I find beautiful, aesthetic and interesting. The nice part is that I can create this, in part, by myself through model selection, the idea of the shoot, the styling, location, lighting etc. It’s a collaborative process which is just fun. It has become a part of my life and I got a lot of friends through photography, because most people are actually really nice persons.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

What probably defines me most is that I have a relatively broad range of styles and approaches that I do within the large “package” of fashion and portrait. I like to shoot in the studio, on location indoors, outdoors, fashion, boudoir, nudes, simple lighting, complex lighting… I quickly get bored with repetition, so my pictures tend to vary a lot from shoot to shoot. But I have been told that my pictures can be recognized, so there’s that…

My role in photography as I see it, is to show beauty (in all its definitions) as I see it. I don’t want to convey any particular message through the photos, except maybe to simply enjoy life ;)

Where do you get inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from all over the place, I guess. It can be a beautiful face, funky clothing, pictures I have seen somewhere, discussions with a team or… say a tree somewhere in a field.

It can be anything really. For example, as I was calibrating my screen, I remembered that a mix of the 3 primary colors results in white light. A few days later, my best friend was posing in front of 3 gelled flashes which created really interesting light and shadows, but also inferred the choice of clothing.

Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?

For the most part, yes. I have at least a rough idea, but that can always veer off depending on the model’s performance, the weather, technical issues, the mood, or even the music in the background. I think it is important to know where you are going, while acknowledging (to yourself) that you should go with the flow, if this is possible.

Studio, on location or both?

Definitely both! As hinted to before, I would get bored shooting in just one environement. The studio gives full control but can limit creativity somewhat (think backgrounds). On location can provide more options, but prohibits certain styles or approaches. So I actually enjoy both situations equally.

What has been your most memorable session and why?

That must be a multi-day session in the provence region in the south of France with my model-friend Louise a few years back. We went there, just the two of us, with the specific goal of shooting several days. Everything about the trip was just amazing and we had a great time :)

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

Hmm… A paid professional who practices photography as a side-job, with the enthousiasm of a hobbyist, after being a professional for 2 years? Did I avoid the question? ;)

What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?

The biggest source? Goodness, that is hard to say. I would say it is the fluff in my brain that aggregates information from everywhere and spits out more or less interesting ideas. Usually, when I have such a brain dropping, I struggle to find images to illustrate the idea to the model or the team. In the end, I combine several pictures for the lighting, others for the styling, more images for the posing etc. to convey my idea. I am not saying that I have the most amazing ideas though!

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

Canon, but not out of particular conviction. I just started with them - both brands are equally good. Beware of Sony though, they seem to redefine the game these days!

It’s hard to say which lens is my favourite because different pictures ask for different lenses And I use everything from 20 to 200mm. But let’s just go for a group of lenses: The Sigma Art Series. They are quite good and look sexy ;)

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

Prepare your move to become a professional in order to give the impression of actually being a professional. If you have the image of “that guy who shoots naked women for fun and makes selfies all the time” it might get difficult to run a successful business, especially at the start. I have not been there, but I have seen it.

What do you think of our new magazine?

The landscape of magazines changes fast, with them coming and going. Modellenland is doing well so far and I can tell that it is run with passion. I wish you all the best for the future and want to thank you for inviting me for this interview!

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