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Interview with Fashion and Advertising Photographer Gerhard Merzeder

Some of us are lucky enough to make their childhood dreams come true. Gerhard Merzeder is one of the people who has achieved this. I talked to Gerhard Merzeder about his career and the business side of photography.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Gerhard Merzeder

Gerhard Merzeder


by Melisa Kaya

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The main purpose of advertising photographs we see in magazines or billboards is to influence consumers. We see what the photographer wants to show us, actually, we look at photos from the photographer's perspective. Gerhard Merzeder, who is a photographer who has been reflecting his own point of view since the age of 14, uses this experience to show us the most beautiful aspects of the beauties. I talked to photographer Gerhard Merzeder, about his career and the importance of photography in business and marketing success.

Gerhard, before talking about photography, could you tell us about yourself?

Born 1963 in Austria. My childhood dream was to travel the world and become a photographer.

When did you get your first camera? Do you remember what did you photograph first?

At the age of 14.

My first shooting - as I remember it - was a little scenario in which I burned my toy cars in the garden and made them look like real ones.

Later, I also took some nude pictures of my youngest sister (age17) in black & white in the dark - only using a light bulb wrapped up in a black carton to create a kind of spotlight and moving it by hand, a bit like a light painting.

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

How did you decide to pursue a career in photography and establish your own studio? Could you tell us about Gerhard Merzeder Photography and your team?

After I finished my 5 years education as a photographer I used to work for the well-established photographer Horst Stasny in Austria. After a couple of years, I decided to start my own business in 1989.

I mostly did advertising jobs and later worked for fashion magazines.

After that, I spent some time in Sydney, Australia and later worked in New York for 6 years. Mostly with freelancers as my team like stylists, hair&make up people, assistants and of course models.

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

What type of services do you offer to your clients?

Anything what is needed from editorial work to whole advertising campaigns including concepts, scripts and of course the finished photographs.

How would you describe your photographic approach?

I like to play with ideas that are not necessarily mainstream, light and moods, sometimes in an artificial way, sometimes in a more natural setting. But trying out different looks and lights is what I enjoy most.

The most boring thing for me would be to repeat a certain style over and over again, the way some famous photographers used to do.

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

How did your interest in fashion photography begin? What is the most special aspect of fashion photography for you?

Initially, the main interest for me was to work with beautiful models - the fashion part was secondary.

You have been worked in numerous campaigns for many globally recognized brands and magazines. What kind of projects do you prefer to work on?

I really like a challenge. And of course, a certain aesthetics which attracts me as I would never take a job if I didn’t like the visual world of the company or even that of the agency. Money is never the main reason I accept a job.

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

What are the key points that you pay attention to most before accepting a new project?

The theme, visual content, budget, and purpose.

What should your clients decide before contacting you? What is your first question in your first meeting with a new client?

All future clients should familiarize themselves with my work first before contacting me. That means if they get in touch with me they like my work. Everything else is then down to chemistry.

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

In your projects, do you work in a previously defined concept or are you creating your own concept?

I do both but mostly clients come up with ideas and we then work together and create something magical.

Is it possible for clients abroad to work with you for their advertisement campaigns' photo shoots?

Sure, I work worldwide and love to travel. Sometimes clients trust me and I shoot without them on some exotic location.

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

Business owners want to solve their problems with the lowest possible costs. Despite this, could you explain to them that why they have to work with a professional photographer for a satisfactory result?

Well, you get what you pay for. But you cannot drive a Mercedes limousine with the budget of a Smart car. If I’m really attracted to a project, I can sometimes work to a lower budget.

Which factors determine the project budget?

The quality you are asking for.

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

How do you protect the rights of your photographs in this online era?

That is a bit tricky. My lawyer sometimes scans for my pictures on the Internet and occasionally has to sue companies for illegal usage. But nowadays most companies are aware that it is much cheaper to ask for permission and pay for the copyright, rather than to end up in a lawsuit.

Could your clients use the photographs in any publication, catalog, website, ad or other platforms in the future?

Sure, just ask for the usage you need; we can always find a good solution to please both sides.

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

What advice would you give to photographers who want to pursue a career in fashion photography?

Just do it. If you fail you still can try something else later.

But the career of a photographer is a bit like that of a musician: You need to practice a lot and really know how to handle your instrument.

And - it will take some time until you are really good; and maybe it will never happen.

You have to perceive things better and see more than others. You also have to feel differently and study a lot of books about visual shaping. Learn from classic movies how to set light, create drama if needed, etc.

Study the golden cut, light shaping, creating feelings, plus all the technology pertaining to cameras and software. Try to avoid working with Photoshop in the beginning, as this will not be helping you at all to learn the real craft of photography.

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

The girl in the seaweed - Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

What is your favorite photograph that you have ever taken?

The last work I’ve done is usually my favorite as I don’t really have one favorite picture. But if I would need to choose one it would be “The girl in the seaweed”: it’s edgy but beautiful - it could even become a classic one day.

What do you think about social media? How did it affect competition in the photography industry?

I like social media, if well used. You can reach and meet people from all over the world with similar interests.

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

Photo by Gerhard Merzeder

How can our readers follow you?

On Instagram, my website and many other platforms. Google helps a lot too.





What is next for you?

I would love to know this too.

Thank you Gerhard for this enjoyable interview.

For more information, please click here and visit the website of Gerhard Merzeder

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