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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fabrik Studios - It's Still Photography

Even with the latest digital tools on hand, Fabrik Studios relies on old-fashioned skills to make magic happen

Photography Principles In Practice

Although the technology may be constantly changing, sound photographic principles always stay the same. Because the best work comes from intensive in-studio experimentation and meticulous execution, Fabrik puts their primary emphasis on effective lighting. They begin by thinking as photographers—rather than computer operators—and they remain open to anything and everything that may aid the creation of an image. Most importantly, though, they don't fear failure. That leads to a portfolio full of interesting and innovative images.

“In Switzerland, style and design are taught early on,” says Beat. “I believe it's an integral part of our culture.”

Adds Adrian, “Our visual aesthetics and sensibilities are very similar, but they have been nurtured on different continents. This has proven to be positive and refreshing for our work.”

Refreshing is the perfect word to describe many of the images integral to the style in the Fabrik portfolio—particularly their food photographs. These images seem to be swimming in beautiful, soft and utterly natural light. Like so much photography these days, however, there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye.

“The procedure for us always starts with the setup of the props and products on the set,” says Adrian. “The material then determines how we set up the lights. The idea is always to create a light that looks like daylight. Anything that looks like a strobe effect is bad lighting. The main light source—and that could be several strobes and light-shaping tools—should always come from a main light direction, like the sun.”

For their food shots—which have a fresh, editorial look even though they're usually made for commercial advertising clients—the studio-made look of daylight is essential.

“Our lighting is never daylight,” says Adrian. “We've worked for years on a lighting style and technique that imitates daylight. Refining that technique allows us to adapt to the peculiarity of each type of food or product. The goal is to make it look fresh, light and natural. It's a quite complex setup of strobes, and we like to shoot with an open aperture to create natural-looking separation.”

Refined as that technique may be, Fabrik is no one-trick pony. They might look stylistically different, but for an image of stacked teacups and teapots, the photographers utilized many of the same lighting and postproduction techniques as in their more natural-looking food work.

“We proceeded the same way with the stacked teacups as with the stacked teapots,” explains Sylvan. “We stacked them on top of each other empty and made our first exposure; then we took off the top two, filled the lowest pot with tea and put on the second pot again empty. Now you're able to see the reflection of the upper pot on the lower pot. That was our second exposure. Then we filled the second pot with tea and added the third empty and so forth. The condensation would disappear too fast to do this in one exposure. At the end, the client decided on the exact color of the content.”


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