Hi, I’m Holger Pooten. I guess conceptual photography is the best term to describe my work, as it does not follow the traditional order of research and practice of fine art photography.
Besides shooting personal work I earn a living as an advertising photographer as well as being a university lecturer and head of a private photography school, the London Institute of Photography.
Besides shooting personal work I earn a living as an advertising photographer as well as being a university lecturer and teacher.
I grew up in a small German town close to the Dutch border. In the mid-nineties I began to study photography and as the college was very laissez faire I worked as an assistant in Hamburg for 5 years while still being a student.
My main client was a photographer specialized in annual reports and we had a fantastic time travelling up-and-down the country, shooting from planes, from the tops of wind turbines and inside atomic power stations. At that time I found the German market very conservative so after my degree I moved to London and try out something new.
Over the years I have owned and worked with so many different cameras, Nikon F2, Nikon F4, Hasselblad V and Hasselblad H system, Canon 5D Mark I & Canon 5D Mark II and now a Nikon D800E.
Of all these cameras the only one I really miss is the Hasselblad V system, a motorized Hasselblad 555ELD with a set of lenses that I was lucky enough to win at a Hasselblad award. With its chrome edges and faux leather, its simplicity and reliability it seemed the perfect workhorse for the rest of my career but when I eventually got tired of scanning all my film and combined it with a digital back I had the feeling both didn’t really match up, the manual focus was too imprecise and even the slight slack of the digital back on the camera body caused the focus to shift.
I’m not really married to one camera platform and find discussions like Nikon versus Canon a bit funny. For my equipment I’m looking for the right mix of versatility, image quality and, most importantly, reliability and I’m currently very happy with my Nikon D800E.
I choose my equipment very carefully but on a shoot I’m completely focused on what I see through the viewfinder and can’t be bothered to treat my camera with care. So at times it can get a bit rough and I would not hesitate a second to ruin one of my lenses to get “the shot”.
I’m in the lucky position that for most jobs I can charge for the use of my camera and I tend to rent specific lenses according to the requirements of the shoot. That also means that I only own a very basic lens kid containing a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G and a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro that produce fantastic results.
When I consider buying new equipment I always ask myself if it really improves my work or if I should rather invest the money into a new photography project. Most of the time the project wins.
One also has to see the image quality of the camera in a context. The concept, the way it is photographed and, last but not least, the retouching usually have a much greater influence on the final piece than tiny improvements in file quality.
I once took the first 10-20 frames of a photo shoot in medium jpg resolution, I just wanted to check the light and didn’t pay too much attention to the camera settings but of course one of the best frames happened in these first 2 minutes. When later I produced large-scale prints from the series for an exhibition no one could tell the difference between the medium resolution jpg and the RAW files.
In regards to camera technique and image quality I’m a bit ambivalent. I love to work with the latest and best but on the other side I also think that the current digital technique is too perfect and lacks character.
Coming from an analogue background, I know that film had so many “flaws” that gave it character and charm, imperfections that now I need to add to my digital images in post-production. I like lens flares and image noise, and think that in the end it always depends on how you use your equipment. For me post-production is an integral part of the creative process and depending on the image I can invest a large amount of time into the retouching but that’s another story.
Photographers these days are often required to shoot both still and moving imagery and I’m currently working on film and slow motion. My style is very often concerned with “The Decisive Moment” and Slow motion in particular is another way to explore this. All you Phantom users, get in touch!
Good enough to shoot advertisements. By the way, all my equipment is marked with red stickers to help my assistants to quickly distinguish it from rental equipment.
Nikon 24-70mm f2.8/G
A fantastic all-round lens I use for most of my personal work
Tamron SP 90mm f2.8 Di Macro
One of the best macro lenses out there, perfect for portraits and more stylized shots
Minolta light meter
Haven’t used it for a while but still part of my kit
360Precision Adjuste Mk2 panohead
I use it for resolution stitching for clients that require high resolution shots with plenty of “meat” around the central part of the image
Manfrotto 055CLB tripod with Manfrotto 410 Geared Head
A very stable and precise yet lightweight and portable combo
Ibuprofen, Caffeine tablets and Blistex
Absolutely essential emergency kit
Leather eye piece
As used by camera men, helps to relieve the eye and avoid distracting ambient light
Roll of red tape
To mark new equipment
I use it to add a bit of lense flare and mood to the shots
Roll of Gaffa Tape
From ADVANCE, Leicester. I hate the shiny one that leaves these sticky, hard to remove marks on the equipment
Helps to shield the camera display from ambient light and assess the image when I don’t shoot tethered
PocketWizard MiniTT1 & PocketWizard FlexTT5
I use these to either synchronise the flash in the regular way or for Hypersync
Tether Tools Jerk Stopper
Absolutely essential when shooting tethered to avoid too much stress on the camera’s USB port
For tethered shooting
Profoto B1 Battery Pack + 2 x ProHead Plus
A large collection of Lee filters
Multiple Manfrotto lighting stands and boom stands
LowePro Pro Roller
Billingham 307 camera bag
Apple MacBook Pro
NEC Sectraview 2690 monitor
Multiple LaCie external hard drives to back up my files
Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer