Based near Cologne, Canon Ambassador Eberhard Schuy's flair for creative techniques has made him a favourite of advertising agencies and industrial clients around the world.
Eberhard has garnered a reputation within advertising and industrial circles for merging analogue techniques with digital photography in a compelling fashion. Known for doing as much in-camera as possible, the German photographer uses props, filters and a range of 'old school' effects to fulfil a brief, rather than solely relying on post-production.
"I do everything that is photographically possible to realise my vision in camera," Eberhard says. "My many years of analogue photography help with that. I think the less processed an image is, the higher its photographic value."
Eberhard's career began in 1972 when he gained an entry-level education in photography under Wim Cox in Cologne. He went on to work as an assistant, and completed a degree as a Master Photographer at Handwerkskammer, Cologne.
Upon graduating, Eberhard quickly secured work as a studio manager for an international advertising agency, where he stayed for over four years. In 1981 he took up a position as an advertising assistant for Linde AG Refrigeration and Equipment Technology in Cologne. He now runs his own photography business, specialising in advertising and industrial photography.
Eberhard uses props, filters and a range of 'old school' effects such as double exposure and a variety of filters to fulfil a brief, something he says has helped him to stay creative and to keep retouching time to a minimum.
"I'm a photographer first, so I believe in solving the task as well as possible photographically. Many techniques have been forgotten because it seems easier to do it in post-production, but this often makes the image worse and can remove the original creativity, because retouching can produce the same old look time and time again. I believe it's the job of the photographer to photograph creatively and to be the one to come up with new ideas to create new images – only then comes the retouching."
Reminiscing on his early days, he says: "It was such a special kind of work that you could only do with creativity... working with the camera and all the photographic equipment has, and always will have, a special fascination for me. The quality, but also the emotion and the spirit that determine each image, are the sole responsibility of the photographer. It took me a few years to fully understand that. Fortunately, I always had teachers who put great emphasis on this."
It was during these roles that Eberhard built up a wealth of knowledge that helped him set up his own business. In 1984, he founded his studio in Cologne, which now serves a multitude of German and international clients. "Any day with photography is a great day. I enjoy it today as much as I did 30 years ago, and I know I will enjoy it even more tomorrow."
In addition to still life, Eberhard also shoots industrial photography, is a guest lecturer, coach and consultant, and has written several training and product photography books. These books include his worldwide best-seller Object Photography Projects, which has been translated into multiple languages, and Timbulär, a word of his own invention, which discusses creativity in photography.
What is it about still life that keeps you motivated?
"From day one I was thrilled with the possibilities of staging objects and depicting them in a special way. There are no restrictions, everything is feasible, and it's your our own creativity that decides how the objects are presented."
What information do you like to get from the client prior to a shoot?
"I clarify the basics, so: which format? Do they want a specific background and/or perspective? Is there a reference picture? Do they want colour, black-and-white, or both? Will text and/or logos need to be added to a certain part of the image? How and where will the image be used? Trying to get a great picture without a plan never succeeds!"
What was the most important lesson you learnt setting up your business?
"It's crucial to have and to build a brand. Focus on your personality and don't go by what others are doing."
What qualities should a good still life photo have?
"Less is more! My photographs are very minimalist. I just have the subject and a relatively simple background. I think they ought to be free and that light should play a special role."
What's the most important thing to remember when shooting still life?
"The quality of the picture is not determined by the beauty or the emotion of the model or object. Any object, even if it's just an empty bottle, still has the right to be photographed respectfully. This sounds strange, but it means the value of the photography is always maintained at the highest level."
"In this genre, the technique can be relatively easy to perfect, which is why it's important to portray your own creativity and your own ideas. For this, it is absolutely necessary to take a lot of photos. Restrict yourself to a few areas of photography and always remain self-critical. All photographers, no matter how well known they are, will question their photography from time to time. Only by doing this, can you truly develop your own style and be faithful to it rather than copying someone else. Show your pictures to as many people as you can and always take on board constructive criticism."