Christoph Stummer is a photographer in Gneixendorf, Austria. From playing guitar he replaced his hobby with photography. This helped him deal his stress due to his tinnitus. And in his job, he is developing a photography software, an app for 360° product photography that in the future may help him make some money for his amazing product images. Whatever the subject is, photographer Christoph brings unique and awesome photos to his assignments. Outside of photography he enjoys hiking a lot and loves being in nature where he took of his landscape photography. We are proud to introduce you and share with you his work as a part of our features interview.
How long have you been a photographer (hobbyist or professional)?
10 years ago, when tinnitus stopped me from playing music, I picked up a camera and started photography as a more serious hobby. First, it was mostly landscape photography, since I hike a lot and like being in nature. As my camera gear and knowledge of the subject grew, i got interested in other fields of photography, and during the last few years, I gradually turned one room into a home studio and wanted to learn how to use off-camera flashes, softboxes, etc. This is what brought me to Photigy
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?
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 am very much just learning and trying new things as I do photography as a hobby. In my job, I develop photography software, and one of our apps is for 360° product photography, so the things I learned in the courses will certainly also benefit me here. But if at some point, I could make some money on the side, with a camera in hand doing product photos, that would be super cool.
What made you decide to pursue product photography?
Originally, I just wanted to learn to do ‘studio photography’, understand how to light subjects using flashes, etc. Then while doing the courses, I started to appreciate the technical side of product photography, where you have to be very precise and step by step work on a photo, first in camera and then in software. And it was a great distraction during all the lockdowns last year.
How did you first learn about Photigy?
As far as I remember I signed up at Photigy quite a few years ago and did a free introductory course. I found Photigy by chance on the internet because I always watched lots of video tutorials on all things photography.
When did you take your first course (what year)?
It must have been 2-3 years ago when I watched the introductory course. At that point mostly just watching the videos, as I did not have most of the gear yet that I would have needed to follow along.
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?
So far I have taken the Introduction Course and the Complete Guide to Product Photography, but I also have purchased the ‘Wine Photography for Professionals, The Complete Guide to Beer Photography & Post-Production, and The Basics of Commercial Food Photography courses, which I will do next.
My favorite course so far is the ‘Complete Guide’, as it brought me from knowing almost nothing about product photography, and studio photography in general, and took me to feel confident that I can now handle all kinds of products and materials, and make a decent shot. It even helped me with studio portrait photography.
When you first got started, what did you find to be the most challenging aspect of photographing products?
When you come without any knowledge in studio photography like I did, the first thing that struck me was, that you have to be very deliberate with your lighting, that every part of your product that you do not point a flash (or reflector) at, will simply be black. Also in product photography, tiny adjustments, like in the positioning and power of flashes, can make a huge difference. But you soon get the hang of it and see the advantage of flashes where you have 100% control over the lighting of your subject.
What is your favorite product image you created since taking courses/workshops through Photigy?
I would say my favorite so far is the image of the Blue Yeti Microphone. I think I got the lighting right on this one, and then cleaned it up and made a composite in Photoshop, which I always have fun doing…
What specialty in product photography interests you the most (beverage, food, jewelry, cosmetics, etc.)?
I live in an area with many winemakers, and therefore I want to get better at wine photography now. This is also a field where I could possibly make some money at some point.
How has your learning experience with Photigy affected your success as a photographer or pursuit of photography?
Before I signed up for the ‘Complete Guide to Product Photography’, I considered just watching random YouTube videos and trying to learn product photography on my own. In hindsight, it was absolutely the right choice to take the course, because you do not just learn how to replicate specific shots, but you gradually get a complete understanding of the challenges that you will encounter in product photography, like how to deal with certain qualities of objects, materials, texture, transparency, and how these affect your approach of lighting and shooting them.
And as you are ‘forced’ to not only watch the tutorials but then also do everything in your own studio, with your own gear (as you do the assignments for each chapter), you really learn how to deal with and work around difficulties. And then you get the reward when you take pictures that you are more and more proud of, and never thought you could do. So now I will take some more courses on Photigy, and also use what I have learned so far, to take better pictures of people.
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?
If you are like me, feeling a little intimidated by the great product images you see on the Photigy website, I can tell you now that this can be learned. Also, you don’t need the fanciest studio gear and spend loads of money to do product photography, a few cheap flashes and softboxes will definitely get you started. And things like diffusers, reflectors, etc. you can make at home from things you can buy in a hardware store, and the ‘Complete Course’ even has a whole chapter on that. And having an inflatable mini-pool in your house and throwing around colorized water is an experience you won’t forget soon :). (And it isn’t as messy as it sounds….)
What other areas of photography interest you?
I still enjoy landscape photography a lot. It motivates me to get out early in the morning, or towards sunset, or whenever conditions are best for photography. Also, some macro photography, when I am out in nature, and the weather and landscape are dull. And of course, with my newly gained knowledge, I like trying new things in my ‘home studio’.