Every day we see stunning photos from our peers in the 500px community, but not often do we turn the lens back upon the photographer. The Portrait series focuses on remarkable 500px users who may have something to teach us about their field of photography. This week's feature is Hans Findling.
Tell us a little about yourself, Hans.
I'm a 15-year-old student and photographer living in Constance, Germany, which is situated at the lake of Constance at the very south of Germany, at the border to Switzerland. In my free time I practice photography as my most important hobby, but I'm also earning a bit of money by doing little jobs and selling prints. The money is just nice to have on the side; I shoot because it's fun to me and that's the most important thing.
How did you get into photography? What kind of photography do you shoot?
I've been interested in art and I've been creative for almost as far as I can think back. My grandma is an artist too, so it's in the family. I became interested in photography early 2010 when I was using my friend's DSLR (Canon Rebel XT, 350D). I loved the feeling of such a ”professional” camera because I'd only used little pocket cameras until then, and so I bought myself a Canon 450D with a standard kit lens.
I never read the user manual or books about the camera so I was my own teacher and found out how to use the camera by myself. I think this is priceless because in my opinion learning by doing was a very good way to develop fast.
Today I mostly shoot architecture, landscapes and objects in the studio. I'm perfectly situated for shooting landscape and nature; Lake Constance is beautiful and the alps are very close.
I think it's important to shoot a variety of things; that's what makes a photographer individual. I often get bored looking at portfolios with hundreds of photos always showing the same subject.
What gear do you shoot with, and what other materials do you need? What's your setup like for the exploding light bulb and egg shots?
After selling my 450D early this year I switched to the 7D. I really like this camera with its solid weatherproof body and a great sensor which allows cropping sometimes. I'm also using the movie mode from time to time, creating little clips. I use my Sigma 10-20mm lens most of the time, which has an awesome wide angle for architecture and wide landscape shots.
For the rest of my photography I use the lens everyone should own: the Canon 50mm 1.4. In my opinion a good standard lens is just a must-have. It's great for portraits, studio and street. It's not too long with the 1.6 crop. For my next addition to my gear, I'm thinking of buying some filters (Lee) and a telephoto lens (70-200).
For interior shots I also use a 430 EX II flash unit; outside I use mostly natural light. I also use a tripod. And of course there's the most important thing: my eyes.
For the high-speed shoots like the exploding bulbs and eggs, the setup was like this:
I took those shots together with a friend who is also a photographer. We used some different setups but this one was my favorite. It's not possible to shoot alone because it's difficult to shoot the object and capture the perfect moment at the same time.
So my tip for those wanting to try this too is to look for somebody to help you.
What, in your opinion, makes your work different from anyone else's?
In my opinion my work is special because it's so eclectic, showing many different subjects. There are lots of things various photographers shoot, like waterdrops. Everything has already been done, so you are never the first one shooting something, but you could be the best. Being better is the thing that makes you different.
What challenges do you experience as such a young photographer?
Being so young is often a problem—it starts with signing into Internet sharing platforms. They are often only for people in the age of majority. It's also difficult selling prints, but I just found a solution so you can order them here
Another problem is that you can't drive a car so it's difficult to reach a location or plan a photo trip alone.
I've never had financial problems. I'm mostly happy with my equipment and if I want to own a new lens or something I just have to save money for a while. Recently I had the chance to earn some money by shooting for a commercial website. Nobody has ever told me to stop what I do or thought it's wrong. Most of the people looking at my photos are just amazed at my age and what I do.
Which photographers or artists inspire you the most?
Today the Internet brings many advantages. Most of my inspiration is taken from websites and photo streams. You can find everything there, and it inspires awesome ideas.
There are some photographers I really like but no one in particular inspires me. There are hundreds of good photographers on 500px or other platforms.
What do you want to achieve with your photography? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
For sure it's a dream to get popular and earn money with photography, but there are so many great photographers in the world so it won't be easy to reach this. Many people looking at my photos tell me that I'm going to be a good photographer one day. I'm proud to hear this, but I've only been taking photos for about 1.5 years now. So I can still learn, travel, experiment and shoot a lot. It's important to finish school first.
In 10 years? Ask me again in 9 years. :)
What advice do you have for other young photographers?
The most important thing is to be different and to create a unique style. In the beginning it's not easy, so don't worry if your photos don't look like they should. The post-processing is important too, but if you don't have the money to buy expensive programs, freeware isn't that bad. There are also many useful do-it-yourself solutions for building things like light formers, etc.
You also shouldn't be shy taking out your camera and shooting. People might wonder about your age, but who cares?
The last thing is, show your work! The web is the best place to be seen.
For more of Hans' photography, check out his 500px page and his website.