Today, I am excited to present the work of Simon Bolz, a German nude photographer, who runs an extremely successful business. I like his clearly recognizable style very much and with it he also has lots of commercial success.
Simon’s work was published in Playboy, Penthouse, GQ, Men’s Health and other huge European publications.
I am very pleased about that fact that Simon is willing to provide us with insights into his professional craft even though he is a very busy business man who travels a lot as well.
Interview by Dan Hostettler
Where are you living now and for how long have you been a photographer?
Frankfurt is the place where I live and I work as a photographer since 2006.
Did you go to school to study photography?
I studied design at the Visual Academy of Arts. Photography was one of my majors in the exams. And we had nude drawing class every week.
How would you describe your vision and visual signature of your style?
My goal is to create images that look like snaps of real life. I want to mix a documentary and erotic style and balance those two out.
What was the first photograph that meant something special to you (by you or anyone else), and why?
I see hundreds of photographs every day and really can’t remember what was the first one that really impressed me. Variety is very important to me and I really don’t want to hold on to a single exposure from the past.
How did you get started in shooting the nude-oriented work that you are into right now?
Photographing people always interested me. I was never into photographing sports, buildings or nature, but always had a deep fascination for faces. I started out on the streets, photographing random people and soon realized that I needed to overcome the distance.
I felt the urge to get closer and bring more intimacy in my pictures.
Aesthetics always played a big role in my life, too. From there it took on a life of its own.
How do you find the models to work on your projects?
Nowadays I am in the lucky position that models apply to work with me. I sometimes find models on Facebook or modeling websites like ModelMayhem.
How do models enjoy working in this style?
It’s not bad work, is it? Models get pampered and wonderful sensual images that showcase the best parts of their bodies are being created. The atmosphere on a set is always very important and I guess I am not doing things wrong there.
How do you – in today’s digital world – earn money with your adult photography, what has changed for you?
It’s tough. People think everything is free on the internet. But I am happy to work for print publications and to produce look-books for lingerie companies as well.
Each year I am producing a calendar of my works – http://www.simonbolz.com/calendar/ – and I am also working on a concept for a couch table photo book.
Do you prefer shooting indoors, in a studio or rather outdoors?
Studio work is nice as you have all the control over light. But for nude shootings it’s a bit boring. At least, that’s what I think in my current phase. Right now, I really love shooting outdoors or on location. It adds so much more atmosphere to my images and telling a story feels much easier.
Many photographers would like to explore nude work but just don’t know how to get started. Do you have some advice for taking the first steps?
Have a concept, find a model, preferably someone who is already experienced, use a simple light setup with just one single light source, load your batteries and fire away. Don’t read too many books and rather concentrate on the mood you’re creating than the technical stuff.
You are a very much sought after photographer with immense experience in the nude field. Do you also share your knowledge in form of, for example, workshops or own publications (eBooks and the like)?
Many people have asked me for workshops. I might give a workshop for a very small group of people in 2014. It is important for me to preserve an intimate mood on the set, so for me it only works with up to five people during a shooting including the model.
Tech QNA: Simon’s Gear DNA
Do you work solely digital or also analog these days?
When I began with photography in 1999 I shot on film. I switched to digital in 2003 and have been happy ever since.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with?
I mostly shoot with my Canon 1ds MKIII. But I also love my “elephant”, a Phase One 645DF with its excellent Schneider Kreuznach lenses. The sharpness and image quality is simply amazing.
What lighting equipment do you set up for a shoot?
Recently I mostly used sunlight, so just one light source, not bounced by a reflector. Indoors I also use just one flash light mostly. I work with a beauty dish from Profoto on an Acute system but from time to time I use ring flash or large umbrellas as well.
How important is Photoshop for your final images?
Post-processing is around 75% of the work. It’s sad but true. I spend more time after each shooting than with taking pictures. Selecting the best images and retouching them in a way that I like just takes up so much time.
Are you rather a Mac or a PC lover?
I work on both systems.
Simon, thanks a lot for joining me and the time you dedicated to my readers!