Anna Johns formerly Anita Blake is a professional photographer and image processing in Düsseldorf, Germany. During her early years in this field, she was a full-time wedding photographer. Then changed to product photography that specializes in Jewelry Photography where she has shown impressive skills and her masterpiece creations of luxury products. It is such a great pleasure to us and we are proud to share her work as a part of this features interview.
How long have you been a photographer (hobbyist or professional)?
The very first DSLR I’ve received in 2008 as a birthday present from my father as I declared I want to become a photographer. For a while, I received my first clients for family portraits and private shootings. After I moved to Germany from Ukraine I photographed mostly my vacations and travels as a hobby, in 2015 I started to shoot weddings.
Is it your profession (part-time or full-time) or are you still learning?
If it is your profession: Tell us a little about your business. How long have you been a working photographer? What types of photography services do you offer? What helps set you apart from your competition?
Since 2015 I’ve been a full-time wedding photographer and now I quit. I’ve been always in chase of quality, technical perfection, but it wasn’t that important for wedding photography! I had no empathy for my clients, I actually didn’t care whatever they celebrate, I only needed to deliver the result. My skills and quality were highly appreciated, but my career would never go further in this branch as I had no emotional response to what I am doing. The game has changed as I started to learn product photography.
If you are still learning: What are your goals (or plans) as a photographer? What would you like to do after reaching a level that would enable you to do commercial quality work?
I’m still learning, I’ll keep up learning. I have very ambitious long-term goals, and my first significant step towards it will be creating a strong portfolio to enter the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts. I want to create a new impact on commercial imaging.
What made you decide to pursue product photography?
I see a huge perspective for me in photographing objects. I have chosen jewelry photography as my niche, the only reason for it – I absolutely love it, it’s a true passion and it’s an art as well. I’ve been never fascinated by people themselves, but by their skills, creations, their masterpieces. Luxury products are the items with the story. I want to help to bring these stories out through my photography. I think I’d love to do more editorial jobs as a commercial.
How did you first learn about Photigy?
From a friend of mine, he got to know Alex through social media and showed me his work and his school. I remember I looked at it and said: “Wow! To reach this level I’ll probably need another lifetime!”
When did you take your first course (what year)?
In 2017, but I only managed to start to learn properly as lockdown came in March 2020.
How many product photography courses or workshops have you taken through Photigy? Do you have a favorite course or workshop? If so, what made it your favorite?
6 full courses and a few workshops, and I’m still in the middle of The Complete Guide to Product Photography. That one my favorite as well, I like the structure, first theory explained, then step-by-step practical examples in relatively short videos, for me it is the most effective way to learn. I like Introduction to CGI For Product Photographers course a lot, for the same reason.
When you first got started, what did you find to be the most challenging aspect of photographing products?
Missing supportive gear! I had strobes, light modifiers, cameras, and lenses… but I’ve been missing small things like connectors, tripod arms, clamps. It was so frustrating. It took me several hours to make a shot which I do in a few minutes now.
What is your favorite product image you created since taking courses/workshops through Photigy?
There are two: a silver ring straight-on on a black background and the one from Jewelry Photography Workshop #86.
What specialty in product photography interests you the most (beverage, food, jewelry, cosmetics, etc.)?
So far it is jewelry.
How has your learning experience with Photigy affected your success as a photographer or pursuit of photography?
I’ve learned from scratch and now I’m a ready-to-work jewelry photographer. I can create 90% of images that come into my mind and even if I stuck with some issue, now I know how to approach the solution. It has brought my photography skills to a new level in a relatively short time. But what is most important, I know how to start my new business, I have all the necessary tools and I have great support. Nothing seems impossible now.
For example: Are you able to create images you couldn’t previously? Did it enable you to earn money photographing products? Did you start a product photography business? Did it increase your overall photography skills, etc.?
What advice do you have for people interested in pursuing product photography?
Invest in skills first, then gear.
What other areas of photography interest you?
Landscape photography, conceptual photography. Everything except people.