Interview with Adrian Weinbrecht

With more than 20 years in the commercial photography business, Adrian Weinbrecht has amassed an impressive client list. His list of clients includes big names like Adidas, Weight Watchers, Converse and Casio. We asked the London-based photographer to answer a few questions for our readers.

Your background is in commercial photography. What is it about this area that appeals to you?

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Adrian Weinbrecht

Commercial photography is very often about problem solving, this means dealing with technical and creative concepts to create a visual interpretation of the brief.

There is something very special about the way light can change dramatically the feeling and interpretation of a subject. This can be easily seen if you photograph the same landscape at 3x different times of day, Sunrise, Midday and Sunset. You will end up with (almost) 3x different looking places.

The thing I love about the commercial world is that any of these times of day could be right, but it all depends on what we want the brand to say.

There’s a great shot on your website of a dancer jumping on a street corner with lights streaking around a building. It’s very striking. Tell us a little about that shoot. Who was it for and how did you accomplish the light painting?

Weinbrecht created this image for the Bern Ballet in Switzerland
Urban dance
Weinbrecht created this image for the Bern Ballet in Switzerland

This was part of a series for the ‘Bern Ballet’ in Switzerland; originally we wanted to get the dancers into these different environments. This street scene was one of the environments, however when we wanted to do the shoot the weather had changed dramatically and there was now icy conditions on the ground. So we ended up using the images from the ‘Scout’ as the background images. I shot the dancers separately in the studio. By paying careful attention to the lighting in the background we were able to light the dancers in the studio in a way that created seamless images. I love this sort of technical and creative challenge.

Share a photograph that you’ve taken that you’re proud of and explain why.

I’ve got a lot of images I’m proud of, but sticking with the commercial side of things I’ve chosen an image I shot for a Converse Advertorial. I like this image as there is literally no retouching, everything you see was created in camera.

A shot Weinbrecht took for Converse that he’s proud of
A shot Weinbrecht took for Converse that he’s proud of

You work with a lot of big clients. Do you ever get nervous on a shoot?

To be honest I don’t tend to get that nervous whilst I’m shooting. I do, however, get very nervous beforehand. To deal with my nerves I tend to prepare very, very, very well and make sure we have a contingency for whatever might arise. This contingency will range from having a backup of almost every piece of kit and also having options like several battery operated lights just in case the studio has a power failure.
My assistants joke about me being ‘Compulsive Obsessive ’they use another word but it’s probably not appropriate here, interestingly most of them end up with a similar philosophy and approach, as they can see it works.

You’re a father of three. How does that shape who you are as a photographer?

Being a photographer has actually allowed me to shape who I am as Father, I made a conscious decision to not travel so much after my first child was born. I was travelling far too much to be the sort of Dad I wanted to be. (To give you an example of the amount I was travelling, I used every page on my passport up with entry/visa stamps.)

This conscious decision meant I was lucky enough to witness the birth of each of our kids, watch their first tentative steps and never miss a birthday (so far). Just to be clear, I love what I do, but I don’t think many people at the end of their lives say, ‘Gee I wished I’d spent more time in the office.’ Now my kids are all at school, so I’m starting to travel much more again.

What kind of gear do you use?

The truth is I’m a bit of a gear head and I’ve got far too much gear to mention here. I do laugh sometimes though when we are setting up as some of our Manfrotto light stands are 15-20 years old and still going strong. (Actually just thinking about it, I’ve been using Manfrotto gear for 25 years. So they must be doing something right.)

A few years ago we started using the Avenger stands and I wonder why I didn’t buy a bunch of these earlier. I think this is mostly because these days we shoot a mix of Stills and Motion. In terms of lighting, we have everything from various HMI, LED to Flash lighting.

I use Nikon and PhaseOne for stills, with Red Epics and Canons C100/300 for Video.

Learn more Adrian Weinbrecht and his work on his website and follow him on Twitter.

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