German based portrait and wedding photographer Armin Sarow discusses his interest in capturing a picture that satisfies the client’s requirements while keeping in their personality. Read on to find out how he frame these photos, what gear he uses, how he gets his subject to relax and what his philosophy to pictures is.
Name: Armin Sarow
Country of residence: Germany, Wilhelmshaven
Brief Bio: I am a 46 years-old wedding and portrait photographer. I am married to my lovely wife and have 2 wonderful children (10 and 5 years old). They are my everyday inspiration and besides that they are my “stand-ins” when I am working on a new lighting idea.
How did you first get interested in photography?
I started to get involved in photography when I was 16 years old. I got my first viewfinder camera from my mother for a trip to London. I photographed one of the red double decker buses with a panning shot. I had no idea what I was doing but when I got the photo back from the development (I didn’t develop my pictures myself because my parents didn’t want me to “play” with the chemicals) I was hooked. I bought different film cameras. The last one I shot film with was a Canon 500N . When the first DSLRs came out I bought a Canon 300D and after that I bough a Canon 350D, Canon 400D. After that I switched to a Canon 40D. Then the Canon 7D came out and I switched to that body. After I decided to shoot weddings I bought 2 Canon 5D MKII. I still use these bodies for my daily work.
What do you like to shoot?
I am interested in people. That’s what drives me to take pictures. Who is the person in front of my lens? What moves them? How do I get the expressions I want out of them? I almost always carry a camera with me and it’s hard for me not to take pictures.
What’s your approach to photography, your philosophy? What do you look for? How do you set-up a shot?
My approach to photography is to keep it simple. When you try to photograph children simple is better. Try to get the children involved and you will get lovely expressions out of them. Don’t try to over light your pictures. The picture you make should always be about the person you are photographing, not about your lighting. Don’t try to impress your clients with your lighting, try to impress them with your pictures. I always try to give the person I have to photograph a picture where, everybody who knows them can recognize their personality. Since I only work on location I always have to set up a backdrop in my client’s home. So I always try to keep it simple. Most of the times I set my shots up with only 1 or 2 lights. The maximum is 3 lights because I am often limited by the space I have to work with.
What is the best photo you have taken? Why? Background and details, please…
Hmm, that is really a tough one. I don’t know if I can say I have taken a “best photo”. I love a lot of my portraits. I don’t dare to say: This is my best image.
What gear are you using? What else do you want to buy?
I shoot my pictures with a Canon 5 D MK II.
The Lenses I use:
– Canon EF 35 mm f 1.4 USM L
– Canon EF 24-70 mm f2.8 USM L
– Canon EF 70-200 mm F4 IS USM L
– Canon EF 50 mm F1.4 USM
– Canon EF 85 mm F1.8 USM
– Canon EF 100 mm F2.8 IS USM Macro
I use Speedlites to light my pictures (if necessary). I own 1 Canon 580 ex II and 5 Canon 550 ex. I also own 2 Sunpak 120j flashes. My triggering system of choice it the Phottix Odin. By far the most reliable triggering system I have ever owned. It gives me the ability to change the power-settings from my camera. I use a couple of soft boxes. A California Sun bounce, a couple of light stands. Just the regular stuff you need to do the business. I own a color-checker pro, a light meter is always in my pocket, too.
In the near future I would like to buy some stronger flashes. Something around the 600 Watt range (Alien Bees, Einsteins….) with a battery pack for my wedding work.
Which area of photography would you like to explore further (macro, landscapes, portraits)?
I’ll definitely take a closer look at fine art photography in the future. Art has always had a big influence on my photography. Besides that I take macro pictures and landscapes. I don’t show that work on my website because I don’t want to attract the wrong clientele.
Where do you see your photography 5 years from now?
I try to improve every year and I am always looking for the best image quality possible. As you can see above I always upgraded camera bodies when I was not satisfied with the image quality. If I should start to shoot more commercial work in the future I will definitely upgrade my camera system again. In the future I might upgrade to medium-format. The image quality is just outstanding. I would definitely have to upgrade my computer system for that too.
What’s the best advice you would give to fellow photographers?
1. Know you gear! The more you know your gear the more freedom you have to make your pictures.
2. Invest in professional grad gear, don’t buy the cheap stuff. Always put your money on the best gear you can afford.
3. Use Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements or something similar) to work on your images. It is the digital dark room that makes your images shine!
4. Learn how to see the light. (If you need help and inspiration: www.strobist.com)
5. Learn how to make your light, start with one light and make it sing. (If you need help: www.strobist.com, http://dedpxl.com)
6. Keep it simple and expand your ideas from there.
7. Print you work. On a mobile device all pictures look nice but in print it’s a different story. So print your work!
8. Last but not least you got to shoot, shoot, shoot!!
Where can we find your images?
and you can follow me on twitter: @derfotograf1967
and I wish you all good light 🙂