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What are automotive clients looking for now? How is the market the same, and how is it different from the past?Within the last few years, automotive companies have diverged from the ultra-sleek, idealized, “picture-perfect” style that was once so popular. Most often a car was photographed a stark environment, over lit, and void of any reflections that occur in the natural world.With the influence of social media and in-the-moment smartphone photography, rends have evolved more towards rendering cars within realistic environments and emphasizing the lifestyle associated with the brand. The art direction has more of an editorial feel, which results in images that are far more relatable than what we have seen in the past.What is it about your photographers' work that clients seem excited about?Both Steffen Schrägle and Patrick Curtet have really pushed themselves to establish their brands within the contemporary car market. They both convey a similar feel but with their own approaches and sensibilities.Patrick Curtet works in tandem with his wife Marlyne, who is a talented photographer and art director in her own right. Their special partnership goes back fourteen years, and they are now the premier creative duo. Patrick acts as the primary photographer and Marlyne as the partnering photographer, as well as creative contributor and facilitator. They invest a lot of time and effort collaborating with their team on all creative aspects of the production, which produces brilliant work that always goes beyond the client’s expectations.Steffen Schragle is also very successful due in part to his use of natural light to enhance a location and the talent, as well as the physique of the automobile. Steffen is also a master at CGI and heightens the movement of the car and how it interacts within its environment. His landscape work is also exceptional and has great depth and sensibility. He has received seven awards from the International Photography/Lucie Awards this year alone. The impact and relevance of the images make them a favorite of clients who absolutely love the work, vision, and attitude.I know that Patrick Curtet recently finished a big project with Cadillac. When is it due to be released? How is the imagery to be used?This was an extremely challenging and substantial shoot for Cadillac. It involved the rebranding of eleven car models, with several “code red” or unreleased models, and a tremendous amount of talent in luxury-lifestyle scenarios. The shoot came together very quickly and with only a few weeks of preparation. Patrick had worked previously with the client, who again chose the Curtet Team to execute this creatively challenging, as well as physically challenging, project. It was a marathon shoot, with more than thirty-five long days, virtually without a break for the team. They pulled it off brilliantly, and the client and agency are thrilled. This imagery will be released later this year.Advertising car photography was known to be well paying; how does it compare today?Budgets are more challenging today than in years past. Contrary to general perception, automotive photography fees are not any higher than other projects; however, these shoots tend to involve more shoot days. It is a very competitive environment with few chosen shooters, so it is imperative to have a top producer and a cohesive crew to deliver the best possible work for the allowed budget. We estimate very precisely and work very hard to ensure we produce superb images at or under budget.Do car companies require a treatment from the photographer? How much do they rely on the photographer for the “look” they want to project, or do they retain pretty tight creative control?Although treatments are not required, we feel that it’s an important part of the bidding process. They’re virtually a blueprint for how the photographer will translate the creative’s or client’s vision. In addition, treatments reflect the photographer’s personality and passion for the project, which are all-important factors that clients take into consideration when awarding a job.
First off, let’s just get this out of the way, how do you pronounce your last name?
Krov - blit, the O is long. The Kro is pronounced crow. The V and B together, that's what really throws people. I jokingly say that I cannot pronounce my own name before about 10 am. But it’s kinda true. ;)
Your cover photo seems largely inspired by the many fashion shoots of famous pregnant women. When did you first get the idea for your version, and was there a specific shoot or celebrity that particularly inspired this photo?
This photo was inspired by the Annie Lebovitz’s Demi Moore shoot for Vanity Fair. The shoot itself was created for a new beer being launched. The ad line was “Expecting Soon.”
Was this image for a personal project or a client?
The client was Hops City.
Much of your image’s hilarity comes from the model’s, errr, "curves." How did you find this guy, and is he related to Santa Claus?
Funny you should ask. I had recently shot my Christmas mail campaign, and I found Richard through a friend. He posed as Santa for me. So when the agency came to me with this project, I was like, “I got the perfect guy for this!"
One aspect of the image that stands out along with its poignant satire, is its relative simplicity: a big guy and a gray background. Do you prefer simple shoots that require relatively little setup or more expansive projects involving CGI and/or larger scale production sets?
I really love shooting people. I do a lot of big set production with lots of people and things going on. But, I also love being in the studio with one person and a camera. That said, conceptual, quirky images are what I'm really into.
The humor and satire seen in your cover photo is prevalent in much of your other work as well. Did you make a conscious decision to focus on this type of photography, or did it happen naturally?
I guess that is just me. I love humour. I think it is the quickest way into someone’s heart or mind. I also love that “ah ha” moment: you know, the moment when you see the picture within the picture and you have a new love and interest of the image.
How do you come up with the ideas for these types of series?
The ideas come from all over: movies, a book, walking down the street. But a lot of the time, it's just me and my buddies hanging around and talking smack when the ideas come to me.
Do you prefer personal projects or professional assignments? Over your career, what has been your favorite shoot for each, personal and professional?
I love to shoot professionally and prefer it. Each time I come up to bat, I see the opportunity to not only create great ads, but to make them something special to look at. My favorite pro shoot has to be for Ballistik Hackey - Goalie skin rug. I had the opportunity to build the most amazing set with all the bells and whistles that made it an award-winning piece. The personal project that comes to mind is a medical anatomy book I created that is called Krovblit Living Anatomy. It is a look through the many layers of the human body and soul.
You have a substantial amount of experience in motion as well as still work. How does your mentality and shooting process change when working on a motion project?
Really, it is a natural extension of what I already do. I am used to working on large-scale stills projects, which encompass many of the same characteristics as directing a video. For example, when I shot BudCamp for Budweiser, we had over 100 extras on set and shot over three days on a sound stage. There I was, fifteen feet above the crowd with a megaphone
What is your dream project? (motion or still, working with anybody, anywhere, anytime...sky’s the limit)
Right now my dream project is to direct a film inspired by one of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl.
Lastly, what advice would you give to fellow photographers looking to combine strong imagery with a sense of humour?
10,000 hours. It's just true. Whatever you want to do, and do well, will take at least this amount of time. Don’t be lazy. Chase your ideas and make them happen. It's the only way to get to the really great stuff, professionally and personally.