Hittwerk Photography, an interview with John
Today is the first time in the 8 year history of Oni Studio that I have finally been able to interview another boudoir photographer and showcase their work on my blog. All the photos you see in this entry are Hittwerk Photography’s, not Oni Studio. I hope you enjoy the interview with John of Hittwerk Photography!
Q. How did you get interested in photography?
A. I needed an Art101 class in college back in 1973. Mary Brandon was the beautiful young teacher so Photography was a natural choice!
Q. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name of your studio, “Hittwerk Photography”?
A. Kraftwerk was a very popular band back when I was in college, therefore HITT and WERK tied together my German heritage and one of my eventual businesses
Q. What was the first camera you owned?
A. I bought a Minolta SRT101…and still have it!
Q. What kind of camera do you shoot with now?
A. I use three different ones for specific types of work. I use the Olympus E3, E5 and most recently, the Olympus OM-D E-M1
Q. What advice would you give a person just starting out shooting boudoir photography?
A. Be absolutely sure you are doing this for artistic reasons, only. I say this being a man, working with young attractive women. If you have a different agenda, get out of the business before you ruin the rest of our reputations.
Q. You create a very sexy atmosphere when you shoot, or so it appears that way, have you ever had a client come on to you?
Q. What types of music do you play when you shoot?
A. I allow the models / client to choose their own music. I don’t allow dreadfully depressing country music. Most often they want me the pick some music and so far they all love the newest Pink Floyd album and David Gilmore’s Live at Gdansk.
Q. What is the least favorite aspect of your shoots?
A. Wow… I’d say it’s the fact that all good things must come to an end. Once my clients really become comfortable with themselves and me and my team, the images and emotions just keep getting better and better.
Q. What bothers you most about your clients?
A. I’m very selective with whom I work with, so I never have any issues with my clients.
Q. If someone gave you $357,000 but you could only buy photo related equipment, what would you buy?
A. Since I’m blessed to have pretty much have everything I need, I’d likely visit my alma mater, the University of Alabama, and we would go shopping together!
Q. If you could shoot with anyone in the world, from any time period, who would you choose. By the way, you can’t choose Marilyn Monroe!
A. Wow… that’s tough. As I look at my bucket list of models I’ve planned to work with, there is still one elusive model still there, Rubia Stri, from Belgium.. I think she is stunning and I know we could get some amazing images together! I never give up… it will happen someday! She and I chat every morning discussing our creative work and brainstorming for new ideas.
Q. Who are some other photographers that inspire you?
A. Clarence John Laughlin, now deceased, was a huge influence on me in college. I own some of his original images and have photos of him signing my images in his New Orlean’s home. I do a lot of ballet work and Gene Schiavone is my dance mentor. I also invested in some of his work. Jim Bauer in Dallas is by far to most talented glamour photographer I’ve ever known. Jen Rozenbaum is my boudoir mentor. She and my wife were my biggest influences to try out boudoir work.
Q. What type of lighting equipment do you use?
A. I prefer natural light and a reflector for my boudoir work, but I often use a fluorescent, color balanced ring light and Buff Einsteins fitted with various modifiers as necessary. I recently added some of Edward Tang’s Cheetah strobes and modifiers for my on location work. They are amazing!
Q. Do you think social media helps with acquiring clients?
A. Certainly! I never pay for advertising. I don’t need it.
Q. What’s your approach to SEO?
A. I’ve been around a long time and have significant name recognition in the field. I don’t worry about Search Engine Optimization. I turn away more business than I accept.
Q. What’s your wildest/sexiest photography story?
A. A few years ago I had a return client book a shoot at a home in north Dallas. It started out with her just being playfully flirtatious. Very soon it was obvious to the whole crew that she was dead serious and very assertive! She was 20 years old and I was almost 60! Haha!!! We stopped the shoot right then and talked privately. We ended up getting a great shoot in the books and she called a few days ago to book another shoot!
Q. Are you married? If so, what does your spouse think about your career?
A. I’ve been married to the same creative, tolerant women for over 40 years! She is the one who encouraged me to take my work to an edgier level and it took off like a rocket!
Q. What is (in your opinion) the best shot you have ever taken?
A. I can’t answer that… I love too many of them!!
Q. When you are shooting outdoors what mode do you shoot in and why? (Aperture priority, shutter priority, etc.)
A. I rarely venture outside since I’m located in west Texas, a very harsh, unforgiving environment. When I do go outside, I’m almost always using Aperture priority.
Q. What type of editing software do you recommend?
A. I’m old school… I recently switched from Photoshop CS5 to CC.
Q. If you answered photoshop, what type of plug-ins do you recommend?
A. I use Nik and Topaz plug-ins quite a bit.
Q. What type of computer do you recommend for the type of work you do?
A. I’ve always used Dell’s and have never had any issues. Every 5 years of so I’ll work with Dell and my IT guru and we decide on a custom set up. A week later I’m grinning from ear to ear.
Q. What type of photography were you doing when you first started out?
A. At Alabama, my professor was also a sculpture professor. The University of Alabama and the surrounded areas are ripe with important and exciting Indian and Civil War history. Most of my work captured the historical sites and landmarks in a very abstract, non-objective image.
Q. How did you get interested burlesque/boudoir photography?
A. As for burlesque, I had an awesome young assistant who was studying to be an actress. Joni asked to try a burlesque shoot one day and soon she and her mom came to the studio and Joni and I had a blast. Her mom was so encouraging! Now as for boudoir, I got contacted via FB by a little shy college kid who was attending a very strict religion backed university. Her fiancé had joined the Marines and had just shipped off to boot camp. She had a part time job at Victoria’s Secret and got the nerve to buy a few sexy pieces for herself. My wife and I got her into the studio and gently urged her to accept her body and who she was and soon she was having a blast, savoring every moment. She came back again for more shoots and her fiancé loved the pics she would surprise him with. Alyssa eventually joined my team and was a huge asset in bringing in new talent!
Q. What types of lenses do you recommend?
A. Keep I mind that Olympus is a 4/3 system so the lens sized are virtually doubled. For example, a 25mm lens on an Olympus acts like a 50mm. I love my 25mm f1.4 Leica for natural light boudoir. I also use an Oly 50mm 2.0, an Oly 14 – 54mm 1:2.8 – 3.5 Zoom and my trusty Oly 35-100mm 1:2.0.
Q. What type of training or education would you recommend for an amateur photographer?
A. READ, READ, READ!! Look up anything Jen Rozenbaum does and learn from it.
Q. Anything further to add?
A. I tell all young photographers in training to learn another trade! Haha!! I see too many young photographers starve to death and finally give up because they can’t make enough money with their camera. With another trade, they can still eat and pay their bills and hopefully have a little money left over to invest in themselves and still pursue their photography. It is much easier to do shoots when your rent doesn’t depend on it. Do the photography as a side job and learn from every shoot. You’ll learn a very little practical skills in a college classroom.
I meet so many jealous new guys with cameras who can’t seem to find many models, yet they see us “old” guys with all the girls. I assure them that at one time I was in the same predicament. I’ve treated all my clients and models like princesses and have always gone out of my way to maintain a great reputation and maintain a strong public presence. I do a lot of charity work and have done so for decades. I’ve served for years for booster organizations. I’ve been on the board of directors for various non-profits. Over the years I’ve enjoyed meeting people, getting to know their families and their lives. Later I watched their kids grow up and we were all friends. As a result, now the kids are older, attending universities, planning weddings and are wanting me to work with them, be it portraiture, weddings and of course, boudoir. Boudoir Books are in big demand and we have so much fun letting them feel sexy and free, even if it’s just for a few hours. I’ve never had a bad review and have an approximate 90% return rate. Normally the only ones who haven’t returned were the ones who moved away. I have a 19 year old coming in tomorrow. She booked me months ago and has been saving her money. We will likely just do a cute glamour session for her. I worked with her a few months ago in a mild pin-up shoot and her dad, a pro photographer, was there. She decided, with his approval, that she would work with me to expand her portfolio to a sexier, but professional level. Day after tomorrow I have a professional Russian model flying here for a return shoot (boudoir) before she flies home to Moscow the next morning. My life is a blessing and I try to be a blessing to others.