Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Herrmann + Starke - Failure Is Not An Option
The team of Herrmann + Starke creates perfect moments instead of waiting for them to happen
“The majority of our images aren't a single take; that's true of our people photography as well,” says Herrmann. “If it's a situation where you can capture everything in one moment, great. We try to give ourselves the freedom to look at the problem and take that whole arsenal of tools that we have at our disposal and figure out the best solution without limiting ourselves by some kind of philosophical structure. It's all dictated by the image and what we're trying to communicate with it.
Adds Herrmann, “Another thing we may do when photographing people is that if we're in a situation where the contrast range of the shot is greater than our medium can hold, we'll put the camera on autobracket and on the motordrive setting, and autobracket the shot in order to get detail in our highlights and shadows. We blend those three captures together so that we might take the middle exposure for the person and then pull highlight and shadow detail from the plus or minus brackets.”
Herrmann and Starke's ability to think digitally has altered not only the technical aspects of how they shoot, but their comfort level with more diverse subjects and locations, and even their ability to experiment more with portfolio images. But the biggest plus is that they're able to make clients happier. For them, it's all about getting the job done and delivering for the client—no matter what it takes. Whether that's creative problem-solving or planning for the worst, the point is to always exceed their customer's expectations.
“This business is such a competitive one,” Herrmann says. “One bad experience and you've lost that client forever. And you've not only lost that client, but you've lost just about everybody that client knows. Bad news always spreads faster than good news. We're conscious of the fact that our clients are taking a risk by hiring us—that to some extent, their job is on the line. If the photo shoot doesn't go well, they could get fired or not get a promotion. We're conscious of the fact that we're not neurosurgeons here, but at the same time, there's a lot at stake.
“It's important to us that our clients have the best possible experience. We take that into our problem-solving approach in terms of the image-making, and we take that into our communications with the client. We make sure everything is communicated clearly, that everyone's expectations of what's going to happen, how it's going to happen, when it's going to happen and how things are going to work are the same. We've found that clients appreciate that.
“We take a lot of precautions; we bring backup everything,” Herrmann elaborates. “You have to have a plan for everything, and you have to make sure that no matter what happens, you don't let people down. We were doing a shoot in a casino, and there were all these lights flashing and noise going on, and in the middle of this chaos, our laptop failed. We spent about two-and-a-half minutes checking it and then I turned to our assistant and said, ‘Get the backup laptop.' Our client started cracking up. He said, ‘You know, that's what I love about you guys. No matter what happens, you'll never let me down.' ”
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