LUMUNAUT STORY #71: FASHION & PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER: DAVID HOFMANN
Having purchased his first camera at the age of 10, David Hofmann made an indelible mark in the commercial advertising and movie industry. He worked as an artist on 13 #1 box office movies for Dreamworks Animation, Warner Brothers and others. As a phographer, he continued to produce work for the wold's largest stock photo agency. His work got published worldwide in magazines, billboards and online media
WHERE DID YOU MEET PHOTOGRAPHY OR WHERE DID PHOTOGRAPHY MEET YOU?
My dad was into photography a lot so I was exposed to photography from a young age. He also gave me my first SLR camera and taught me a lot about every aspect of photography.
WHERE DO YOU THINK THE WISDOM AND INSTINCT FOR A GOOD PHOTOGRAPH COMES FROM?
I think there are two aspects of it, the artistic side and the technical side, both are important. I was always interested in technical things. I’m just curious how things work from a technical point of view, so learning this side just came natural.
The artistic side came from a deep desire to capture beautiful or stunning visuals and being able to preserve them, especially action that happens fast and is often too fast for our eyes to really see. Capturing and preserving these beautiful moments is just a fundamental desire in me.
WHAT ATTRACTS YOUR CREATIVITY TO THE WORK YOU SHOOT?
Dance is all about making something looks effortless and graceful that is actually physically hard and requires strength, flexibility and overall fitness. Dance is one of the purest forms of expressing yourself as you use nothing but your own body to do so. It is one of the oldest and most natural for of visual art.
FIRST THING YOU WOULD DO IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY?
I would share it with my family and some good friends, and maybe invest in some business ideas. In terms of my photography, financials is not a limiting factor. Sure, there is always a new camera or lens that I want, but that’s not what is holding me back in my work. My life wouldn’t change much if I won a lot of money.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHERE IS THE SOCIAL BARRIER BETWEEN THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND THE SUBJECT?
That’s a good question! I believe a good photo is like a dialog with the model, both the photographer and the model have an idea in their head and they create something together. That’s the ideal situation, both working together actively, feeding off each other’s ideas, getting inspired by each others creativity. How far both want to take that interaction is up to them, for me personally, it always has to stay on a professional level. The photo exposes the model to the world. I think as a photographer you always have the responsibility to keep that in mind. It’s great to make the model feel comfortable but you can create an environment during the photo session where the model feels secure and opens up in a way they might not in a normal situation. You might not realize that during the session. I think you must always be aware of that. That’s why I always show all photos to my clients first and let them decide what they feel OK with going public or not.
WHAT'S IN YOUR CAMERA BAG?
I have several cameras depending on the job. Mostly a Nikon D850 and a few other Nikon FF bodies. The D850 gets the most use. A smaller Sony mirrorless works great for some situations. For underwater sessions I have a separate camera. My most used lenses are 70-200/2.8, 58/1.4, 85/1.4, 24-70/2.8, 105/1.4 and here and there a 300/2.8. For outdoor situations where I need extra light I have a compact A200 wireless flash.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE TO THE READERS YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKFLOW?
I always discuss the locations with the client before we shoot. I always test out new locations before I take a client there to make sure I know what I’m dealing with. I try to keep my gear and light setups to a minimum. The more complicated a setup is the more time it takes to set up and the more time it takes to change it to something else. In the studio I usually only use 2 lights, maybe 3 at the most. Outside I find good natural light and maybe one flash to compliment it.
During the session I show my dancers the photos on the LCD. This is important to them as they need to be getting those poses or jump exactly right. Subtle angles of feet, arms and hands are very important to them. This confirmation helps them very much! I know many photographers do not like to show models the shots on the LCD, but I found the positive effect on them helps the session overall! It helps build their confidence and allows them to be part of the creative process more. I always make sure I explain what they see on the camera LCD is not what the final look is and they get it. After the session I download and cull the photos. I pick the ones that show the best moment and start working on them. Once they are done I export those in full resolution to a gallery on my Dropbox. Then I create a second gallery with the same photos at a smaller resolution for them to use on social media. I also add my watermark to the smaller photos. The small version has several advantages. The gallery loads much faster, especially important when looking at it from a phone. The photos download and upload much faster so they can save and share them very quickly. The watermark is both helping me but also something my clients actually want. Being well known in the dance world, having a photo session with me has become kind of a trophy. They are proud to have the watermark. I deliver the photos as links in an email.
IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE FINAL ADVICE/TASK/RIDDLE TO YOUR FELLOW PHOTOGRAPHERS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Do what you really love, do not let trends or what seems successful guide you. It is very tempting, but it will ultimately not make you happy nor successful. Your passion will show in your work and you the right audience will find you. You want to be appreciated for what you are passionate about, not for following a trend.
WHAT IS THE LUMU BRAND EXPERIENCE TO YOU?
Having the light meter in such a small compact form and work with my phone is a huge advantage. We already carry way too much gear around with us. Having such a versatile tool that takes up almost no space is perfect.