Because today is world Photography Day, I thought that an article about Wiebke Haas’s photography would be a fitting one!
There are hundreds of animal photographers around the world, but very few have been able to capture the spirit of the horse like 24 year old Wiebke Haas has accomplished. Whether it’s a shiny horse jumping in front of a classy black background, or two dapple grays rearing in a field on a snowy winter day, Wiebke is truly one of the best equine photographers in the world. Scroll down to read Wiebke’s exclusive Q&A with The Flying Shetlands!
After finishing school, Wiebke decided she wanted to take on the wolf of photography. For three years she learned the ropes of photography, including learning from world renowned photographer Tim Flach in London where she learned a tremendous amount of tips and tricks for photographing animals.
You can find her first two books, which offer help and advice to beginners and professional photographers here.
You can also find Wiebke Haas’s step by step guide for photographing horses on her 500px page.
TFS: Can you tell us more about how you got involved with photography? Has it always been a passion of yours?
WH: Ever since I can remember! I’m so fascinated by animals, especially by horses. When I was 12 years old I fell in love with a small Appaloosa herd in my neighborhood. They were still there when I became a full-fledged equestrian. I can’t imagine a day without these magnificent animals. After graduating from school it was time to decide what to do with my life. One thing I was entirely sure of: I’d do something that was near to my heart and soul instead of working in a dull office job just to earn a living. Therefore, I combined my great passion for horses with my desire to be creative and became an equine photographer.
TFS: Do you own any of your own horses and do you use them as models in your work?
WH: The Appaloosas are not my own horses but they are a part of my family nevertheless. Especially Feliz is my partner & soul mate. Some of my favorite pictures are showing the Appys.
TFS: What do you find works best for promoting your photography?
WH: Clearly social media works best. I’m using Facebook and Instagram for promoting my photo sessions for private clients and my print shop. 500px, magazines and online featuring are the best for promoting work for agencies and advertising projects.
TFS: Any future exhibits?
WH: Yes, the next exhibit in Germany is planned. Stay tuned for further information!
TFS: Any wise words for other artists?
WH: It’s really important to stay focused on what you like the most. You’ll always show your best skills when doing something what you believe is great work and what you love. But don’t forget you have to pay your bills and that means you have to do work just for the money even if it’s not what you like the most. Please don’t be an artist waiting for the big success. There is always much more work you’ll have to do until you become established.
TFS: Do you set up a booth at different shows?
WH: I did at the beginning of my photographic carrier. I think it’s a nice practice to learn more about potential clients and to talk with people or to get known better in your region. But in times of social media this kind of self-marketing seems a bit outdated. The people are swamped with information and advertising when checking their smart phones, the internet or their emails. Classical advertising methods like posters, flyers or business cards are simply overlooked I think.
TFS: Any funny stories surrounding your photo shoots that you would like to share with us?
WH: Hmmm… it’s hard to think about a funny story. Most of the time a photo session is a really concentrate and calm process to relax the model. Of course the foals or puppies are always super cute and can be hilarious too 🙂
TFS: Do you prefer to work in B/W or color? Why?
WH: That really depends on the image. I personally think it’s hard to find an image which works in B/W. Without color the picture is reduced on it’s structures and contrasts. You can only make a clear image by controlling contrasts and the viewers eye. That means you need clear lines and a really good light to avoid unwanted shadows. On the other side color brings back a certain kind of atmosphere. For example in the warm evening light. When thinking of unusual coat patterns and colors I’d prefer color as well.
TFS: Do you prefer to shoot in digital or 35mm film?
WH: Digital for sure. It’s not the same to tell an animal what to do compared to a human model 😉 An animal is always some kind of impulsively and unpredictable. You need more than one try to get your motif. Analog photography is simply to expensive and not handy enough for my animal photography.
TFS: What size images do you print and do you make any large prints?
WH: This depends on my clients wish. The range goes from a small 13×18 cm print up to 1 and 2 meters.
TFS: Do you have your own darkroom or do you send out your photographs?
WB: I’m sending out my photographs to a fine-art printer. They are more specialized and have the better technologies.
TFS: Do you have any merchandise with your images on it – calendars/note cards?
WB: I did two calendars for 2016 and I’m author of three books about animal photography.
TFS: What is the hardest part of a photo shoot?
WH: I think the whole process is tricky:
Before a photo session I ask my client if he has an exact vision of the photos and what the possibilities are. Most of the time the client counts on my ideas. Whenever I take photos of a horse I have to do the session at the horses home stable, no matter if indoor or outdoor. That means I have to find nice surroundings at the barn for portraits and the best spots on the meadows for action photos. That could be quit difficult when shooting on an urban location without a free horizon. For my mobile studio I just need a big room – for example a hay barn or a riding hall.
Most important thing is to communicate clearly with the horse’s owner/rider and the assistants. The owner must know how to prepare the horse for a photo session – for the best results we need a very shiny coat with a fluffy mane and tale. On set I give an instruction about the motif and how to accomplish it. Basically someone has to direct the horse between my studio set up respectively to the outdoor spot where I would like to take the pictures. Someone else will try to get the attention of the horse to look in the direction I want. To tell the horse what I want it to do means to instruct the people on set really good. This can be difficult sometimes 😉
TFS: Can you tell us more about your style?
WH: Basically it’s the customers decision whether he would like to book a fine art session in studio or an outdoor photo shooting. Personally I prefer a photo session in studio which stands the most for my style. When portraying a horse in studio I have full control about the light – the most important thing for a photographer. The monochrome background helps to focus on the subject by itself. Whenever I’ve got the time I realize my own photo projects and try new things in studio. Of course I also love to photograph a stunning horse in full gallop in front of a beautiful outdoor location while the evening sun is shimmering through the mane and tale. But that’s what every equine photographer does.
TFS: Would you tell us more about your books?
WB: My books are “How to ” guides. “Animal Soul” is for introducing the beginners to the technical stuff of cameras, lenses and settings and then goes on with the basics about dog, horse and cat photography. “Faszination Pferdefotografie” (engl. Fascination Horse Photography) is for the advanced photographer and is much more focused on the professional horse photography. Unfortunately my books are only available in German language. You can order them on Amazon.
Thanks for letting me interview you and for sharing your photography with my followers, Wiebke!