I was familiar with Götz Göppert photographs before I really knew who he was. His images of car races are a favorite amongst gearhead blogs. In this interview Götz on his technique, landscape as a subject, and why he loves the B-roll portion of photography.
– götz göppert
Read the full interview with Götz Göppert after the jump below…
Born in 1969
Clients: Nivea, Renault, AXA, Air France
Gear set-up of choice: Canon/24-70mm
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
How did you get introduced to photography, and when did it become apparent that this was your calling?
I did an internship during school with a photographer for 6 months and I kind liked it. I guess there was no choice for me…..and I became a photographer a couple of years later.
When sizing up a subject or shot, what’s the first thing you focus on?
a lot of things are done during preparation before the real shoot. what is it the client really wants, how far can I go in my style and how commercial does the client want the images. and of cause the right equipment for the job.
Capturing that perfect slice of time – how do you know where you need to be for a shot?
it always depends. I am not so into shooting cars at speed on a track standing there waiting for them to pass by though during a care that’s the only way. sometimes I am on the back of a motorcycle, in an open door or the boot of a car or even in a helicopter. you really need to think about what you want and what he client wants, and than of cause the budget, obviously the helicopter is quite costly.
How have you evolved as a photographer from your first days at this craft?
In the beginning I did a lot of mail order catalogs for cloths, farm there I went to beauty and skin and than a friend took me to Bonneville and there I started to get into cars and bikes. Now I am doing a lot of beauty and portraits and the automotive shots and reportages. I cannot say what I prefer really, it’s great to switch between these very different worlds and I love it like this.
You like to shoot cars and motorcycles, where does that interest come from?
Well, I guess I like the look of the whole. It’s not so much the cars but also the people that drive them. I like to tell a little story about the owner and his car or at a racetrack I would never only shoot the cars, the people are at least as interesting as all the details, the cool race suits, all the equipment…it just looks very cool in the images and I think I like that the most.
I really like how you cover racing events, what’s your process for covering this type of shoot?
I wander around the track and look at everything, shooting little details, talking to people and doing their portrait, I try to capture the atmosphere, the weather, the food they sell or the line for the toilet. I really walk a lot and I try to be the earliest in the morning until late when everything. You never know what you’ll find.
Your landscape shots are another of my favorites. The city shots seem really devoid of people…intentional?
Thank you. Well, the landscapes are a very different thing. This is being shot on film on a panoramic camera on 6×24 cm slides. Due to long exposure you can hardly see any people or moving things. car’s only show in red and white lines…exposure time is up to 7 minutes…and than I always feel that the people in the street look kind of not well dressed, to different and all the colours – so I decided to do the images without them…very early in the morning where there is nobody in the street…except the beaches. There I think the people look great as they are nearly undressed and more equal…I like them in my panoramic images.
Your B-roll shots have a deep attention to the details…intentional on your part or just a by-product of a shoot?
No, I like the details. Those are the things I like to focus on…gives structure to my “stories”. the little things that make me smile, that are so ordinary that we tend to forget, we know that they are there but we don’t real see them…these shots are very intentional and very important in my work.
Best piece of advice you ever received about photography?
When I was really young, a photographer told me to get a simple camera with a 50mm lens and do 5 images for a week on black and white film, to develop myself and print large…I did that for a year and I really learned a lot doing everything myself with very little equipment. It taught me to keep it simple and to approach whatever I want to shoot, to get close to the subject and not to get distracted by technical details. Just to focus on the essential…that was my best lesson!
From your experience, have your best shots come from perfect planning or accidents?
You never know. Getting up early is not a guarantee but it helps, not everything is planning…but it can. But than I feel that photography is the art of capture the right moment and not to miss it. I feel that there is no rule.
Photographer that has inspired you the most?
Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, William Egglestone,
Most challenging shoot you’ve been on?
It’s always a challenge, you never know why’s gonna happen, if the weather is going to hold, the model, permits…one thing I’ll always remember was when I was an assistant we had do do a picture just after the fall of the Berlin Wall in east Berlin. Tight off the Brandenburg with the wall still standing and no possibility to get a permit. We had 1500 people coming in buses standing in a special formation and we had to shoot from a crane…and for all this no permit. we where bribing the policemen with coffee. it was so hard to get coffee than in eastern Germany that for 50kg of coffee we could block the place for a whole afternoon…we were really lucky than , but it was the only way and it worked…really stressful and an intense experience
Favorite shoot you’ve ever been on and why?
Shooting on a sailing boat for a catalogue. I love sailing and spend years racing all weekends but I never did pictures. That shooting was really nice, great weather, a really cool boat and a cool client, the images turned out great. That was on of my most favourite jobs.
You have 30 seconds to leave for a shoot – and can only bring one camera and lens — what would that be?
My Canon with a 24-70mm.
You’ve just been given a blank check to go shoot anywhere in the world for a week -– where would that be and why?
Hmm, that’s hard. the world is full of great places…maybe and island? the volcanoes, the ice, the emptiness…yes, probably island, but than there is Australia, the Sahara, Chile, Bonneville, Italy, Scotland, and all the other places…next question please…
Imagine you could photograph anyone from the past – who would that be?
My great grand parents on my mother’s side. I loved them, I have memories but not a lot. I’d really love a great portrait of them…and talk to them again.
Favorite mantra or saying?
Don’t be late!
What are you working on now?
I am very busy with my car and motorcycle images at the moment, than there is a book project about a very special car that I am waiting to happen…another book on Paris that I am negotiating, and as always my panoramic landscapes…there is always something…
What’s next for you?
Thursday I am off to Germany for a shoot, than a job in Paris and then my son’s birthday!
+ Source: Götz Göppert