The Fashiongton Post: What city and country were you born at, which one do you reside at now, and why? Is there any place you would be eager to relocate to retire at?
Andreas Ortner: I was born and raised in Innsbruck, Austria. When I turned 20, I moved to Paris, and a year later to New York. After spending several years there, learning photography and assisting, I moved back to Europe. First it was Berlin, and currently I live with my family in Prague. We wanted to live in Central Europe and fall in love with Prague. Since I travel for work around the world every week, we feel comfortable here for now. In the future, we think of living somewhere by the sea. Southern France is the place we really love!
F.P.: How do you establish a connection with a model during the photoshoot?
A.O.: For me it’s always important to get to know the person that I’m going to work with before the actual shooting. My team and I do everything to make them feel good and be very sensitive about their needs, as well as respect their privacy. It’s important to gain their trust, let them know that you are the team, and motivate them.
F.P.: Do you talk to models while shooting, tell them some stories and jokes or, on the contrary, you are concentrated on a photoshoot itself?
A.O.: I usually do the talking before the shooting and get to know them. I am quite relaxed and feel what the model needs, as well as, on the contrary, I’m also very demanding and know exactly what I want. So, in the end it’s a giving and taking, an exchange of ideas and feelings. I’m really focused on my work and might be a bit quiet at times but I make it up when the picture is taken.
F.P.: Do you tell the models what pose to take before each shot or you let it go with the wind, catching the poses that the models take themselves?
A.O.: It really depends on the model I’m working with. Sometimes, when I work with the top models in the industry, I can totally let it go and give them the freedom to do what they want, after giving them a rough directions and explain the story line. And sometimes, the other girls really need some guidance and don’t know what to do. Then the real work starts and I have to position them and direct every step. It can be really exhausting but overall I mostly get the shot I had in mind.
F.P.: Sometimes photographers draw sketches before the photoshoot. Do you also do it that way, or you just think it over on the go?
A.O.: I do prepare very well and make mood-boards for the stories I create. First, I come up with an idea, then I talk to my team, and in the end I put a mood-board together. This can include, sketches, screenshots, color schemes, and whatever comes to my mind. Next step is to put the right team together, and finally I select the right model for the project.
F.P.: An eternal dilemma: digital or film? Some photographers prefer to use film only for personal projects, while shooting commercial editorials only on digital. What about you?
A.O.: I did actually start analogue photography but I love the quick processing of digital in our days. We do have deadlines that we have to keep, and the clients feel happy if they can see results right away. A few clients like Ralph Lauren wanted to shoot on film, but also shoot some pics digitally, as a backup. As for the working process I prefer digital.
F.P.: “Canon” or “Nikon”? What side are you at?
A.O.: I started with an analogue “Pentax”, then switched to digital “Canon”, and since then, the last 10 years I work only with “Fuji” and “Nikon”.
F.P.: SLR or mirrorless cameras? Should a pro photographer really switch to mirrorless or SLR still rule the world?
A.O.: The mirrorless cameras became so fast and good, and I even believe it’s the future. I do like the sound of an SLR, though I also like the quality of my mirrorless “Fuji” which is amazing.
F.P.: What was the most unusual and unique camera you were lucky to shoot on?
A.O.: It’s my old analogue “Pentax 6X7 67 TTL” that I bought on a flee market in Brooklyn many years ago. I shot several editorials with it and still use it now.
F.P.: What’s your current camera that you prefer to use on a regular basis?
A.O.: Mostly I work with my “Fuji GFX100 II” or “Nikon Z8 Mirrorless”.
F.P.: Studio or outdoors?
A.O.: I really like both, and I love going to magical places. Every trip is a new inspiration or surprise. The outdoor locations can be super inspiring by the light and the elements given. Also, I love studio work, but there you are responsible to create on a basically white canvas.
F.P.: What was your favorite location for a photoshoot thus far?
A.O.: I’m a big fan of Iceland. I love the rough nature there. I’ve also been to Jackson Hole in the US, and I loved it there a lot too. Marrakesh in Morocco has the beautiful light, and Paris streets were exciting to me.
F.P.: If the choice would be upon you, what location would you enjoy trying out for another fashion editorial?
A.O.: I’m going to shoot in Scotland this year and im really excited about this. Also I would love to shoot in Mongolia one day. That’s still on my bucket list!
F.P.: Any funny situations happened to you during the photoshoot or photography career?
A.O.: There were a lot of funny things happening on every trip we go! To name one — during my last trip to Marrakesh, we all got so sick that we could hardly make it through the day. I think we all got food poisoning. I remember I was shaking all over my body but still managed to finish the job!
F.P.: Name three photographers whose works you admire.
A.O.: Juergen Teller, Marcus Ohlsson, Steven Meisel, Mario Sorrenti, and many more.
F.P.: Do you still retouch photos by yourself or you delegate this part to anyone of your team?
A.O.: I used to retouch myself but since around eight years, I have an in-house retoucher working under my supervision.
F.P.: How many people are in your current team and what are their roles in it?
A.O.: I do have three permanent assistants that can do light and digital support. We always switch, so they are constantly challenged and are amazing doing both. One retoucher and one studio manager. If I need more, I can always work with amazing freelancers around the world since I’m not able to bring my whole team to all the shootings.
F.P.: What place would we find you at when not taking photos?
A.O.: With my wife and son Mathis in Prague, in the mountains to recharge, or at the gym four times a week.
F.P.: Traditionally, your piece of advice to The Fashiongton Post readers?
A.O.: Stay faithful to yourself and don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Be authentic and focus on what you love. Trust your inner guts and don’t try to copy others. Work hard. Give 100% and respect everyone.
- Official site of Andreas Ortner: www.andreasortner.com