Shutterstock is made possible by our network of over 55,000 contributing artists around the globe. In an effort to celebrate the personal stories behind the images in our collection, we're proud to bring you this monthly contributor spotlight series.
Known for his vivid photographs of interiors, exotic locations, and employing his fiancé as a model, the contributor known as PlusONE creates beautifully composed work.
We caught up with the memorably monikered artist to talk about his craft, mixing business with pleasure, and a potential run-in with zombies.
Shutterstock: What's your background as a photographer?
PlusONE: I became interested in photography when I lived in China for a year during my studies. My surroundings were full of picturesque places, and I tried to preserve those impressions and feelings in the pictures I took. In the following years, I invested my first earned money to buy better cameras and I tried to improve my skills. At the beginning, landscape photography was my first love. I got addicted to traveling and inspiring places. I have never done an apprenticeship to be a professional photographer; everything was just on principle of trial and error. My hobby became my passion, and passion became my business. And that is the logical reason why I am now a Shutterstock artist.
Why did you decide to start contributing to Shutterstock?
Many other photographers and illustrators had been singing their praises about Shutterstock and I wanted to make my own opinion before contributing. By the end of 2012, I had the unique opportunity to meet Shutterstock’s founder and CEO, Jon Oringer, and a few other Shutterstock team members in Germany in person. After that funny and interesting meeting, I decided to contribute to Shutterstock, and I have never regretted that decision. I have a very strong bond with many of the Shutterstock team members and have met many of them a couple of times. For me, Shutterstock is not only a business partner, but some sort of friendship as well.
Why the name PlusONE?
The name PlusONE suddenly came to my mind when I thought about a suitable nickname. In my opinion, a nickname should express an artist's way of thinking and working in one simple word. You can always add ONE more detail, take ONE better image, or add ONE more picture to your account. Therefore, PlusONE seemed to be the right name to represent me and my work.
What interests you most about photographing interiors?
I always fancied the idea of becoming an architect when I was young. Even though I have now ended up as an engineer as my main occupation, I still love interior design. I have loads of design books at home and I love to see different interior styles during my travels. People think and live in diverse ways, so an interior style always is some sort of self-portrait and showcase. As the word “living space” indicates, it's the space where we live, spend a huge amount of our time, and therefore is a very personal and intimate place.
What kind of equipment do you use? Lighting? Post-processing?
I used to have a Nikon D300s, but recently have bought a new Nikon D800. The camera is awesome and can deliver images with the amazing resolution of 36 megapixels. The post-processing is fully done via Photoshop CC. Additionally, I prefer the NIK-plugin collection for post-processing, as they're easy to handle and can reduce the amount of post-processing time significantly.
Before my academic studies, I did an apprenticeship to be a design draftsman. So I have always been familiar with CAD / 3D programs. For my illustrations, I use 3ds Max 2014 with the V-Ray 3.0 renderer. And I have a very powerful workstation with 2x Intel Xeon E5-2670v2 (2x 10-Core), 128 GB DDR3, and a NVIDIA Quadro K5000 graphic board. This workstation is a powerful beast and perfect for a passionate digital artist, as I try to be.
What's the most impressive building interior you've photographed?
During my leisure time, I love to go geocaching. Recently I visited a so-called “lost place” not far from my home. It was an abandoned old factory full of old narrow corridors and huge rusty machines. The rooms had that grungy and dark horror style with cracked walls and graffiti all over the place. It's that sort of interior where you expect a zombie to turn around the next corner right in front of you.
You travel with and sometimes photograph your fiancé; does she also work with you on set? What's it like working with her (and photographing her)?
My fiancé often works with me on set or helps me keyword my images. She has also started to gain Photoshop expertise and supports me in retouching my images every now and then. As we both love to travel around the world, she appears on many of my travel images. For me, she is the perfect model, and working with her is the perfect way of combining private life and microstock business.
When working with my fiancé, you can see that we are deeply in love with each other. That makes a huge difference to all of our couple pictures. Our pictures don’t appear to be “fake,” as I simply can catch our natural feelings. But I also get honest feedback from her. If she doesn’t like a picture, she won’t say her opinion in a roundabout way, but with very clear words. Sure, this sometimes might be hard for me, but it definitely helps me improve my work.
Do you work with a stylist?
No, I don’t. I am a one-man-show. And as I'd rather try to be a microstock artist than a makeup artist, my fiancé does all the styling on her own. Gladly, she is a natural beauty, so the styling only makes a statement to her natural appearance.
What inspires you photographically?
I have traveled to more than 60 countries around the world, and each country and place was unique and inspiring. When I see a picture of an interesting place in a magazine, I put that place on my “must see" list. I keep my eyes open and often take a small black notebook with me in which I note my ideas when they come to mind. I love to meander through the portfolios of other contributors and scout the pictures that are popular at the moment. It is definitely always a good idea to continuously buy specialist literature and keep an eye on blogs or YouTube channels in which new photography or retouching skills are presented. The more knowledge you have, the more creative you can be at the end of a day.
What projects do you plan to work on in the future?
Well, my big project for 2014 is our wedding and therefore finding the right wedding photographer. As you can guess, as a photographer, you have very high expectations for another photographer taking pictures of yourself on that most important day of your life. That preparation for my wedding will definitely need most of my attention. But despite that, I would love to gain expertise in creating footage. That is something which I really would love to do, as footage offers a new way of storytelling to me. And I would also love to go deeper into macro photography. Sometimes the real beauty lies right in front of us, and we only need to look a little bit closer.
For more from PlusONE, check out his full Shutterstock portfolio »