5 Mins With Photographer: Daniel Herrmann-Zoll

We interview our talented Product Photographer: Daniel Herrmann – Zoll. Find out how he got to where he is today, and how his work life has changed in 2020.

Featuring some behind-the-scenes footage from the product shoot of our new Geneva range.

The 5TH Watches Work From Home 2020

When did you first pick up a camera and how did you get interested in still-life photography? 

The first time I picked up a camera was way back in 2006 when I went on a family holiday to Tasmania and my parents gave me their new digital camera to look after and take photos with. That trip bred an obsession, I took a camera everywhere with me and wanted to figure out a way to make a living off photography. 
I actually went through a few phases before I settled on still life photography. I started out wanting to photograph landscapes and rock climbing to inspire people to get outdoors, then when I was studying I wanted to shoot fashion but my lecturers would always tell me that still life was by far my strongest area. Eventually I caved and realised that fashion wasn’t for me. I decided to fully embrace still life to see if I would like it and have never looked back. I graduated with a still life folio, travelled to Germany and assisted some of my hero photographers there before moving back to Australia and shooting my own work. I love shooting in the studio and creating little sets to show products in their best light, whether it be alone or with a big team around me.
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How has 2020 changed the way you work?

2020 has turned the way I work with clients on its head! In many ways, it’s been a return to the way I started out shooting. Just me, left to my own devices with a camera and some lights for hours on end in a spider web of cables and light stands, in a very cramped space. Instead of getting physical sign-off from clients on set, I’m now jumping on video calls to chat through setups and to get shots approved. I definitely miss the vibe of being on set with a good crew and having creative minds bouncing ideas off each other as we go. You still get it to an extent in isolation but it’s just not the same. 

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What makes a great photo? How do you know when you've got the shot?

What makes a great photo is very subjective. One of my best teachers always said “The biggest challenge is to make something look as good and as desirable as possible, but still attainable. If something looks fake or too unrealistic, how are people meant to imagine themselves owning it?”. It’s always been a question I ask myself while shooting and in the post-production stage of a shoot. It can be a fine line to walk! At the end of the day, I think a great photo is a photo that does what it’s intended to do, whether that be to make a sale, to inspire a thought or to take you to a different place in time. 
How do I know I’ve got the shot? The short answer is ‘when the client is happy’. I could usually spend more than twice as long on shoots as I do and still not be happy but unfortunately in the real world, we are restricted by budgets and timing. I just try to manage all the factors involved in each individual shoot to get the best result I can in the time I have. I just keep in mind the brief and where the photos are being used to help reign myself in. Even if the client is happy, if I see the potential for small improvements or other shots with minimal effort then I’ll try and squeeze that in. Shooting in isolation in 2020 has definitely seen me spending a lot of extra time on jobs because I’m left to my own devices and no producer to gently tap me on the shoulder and tell me I’m spending too much time on each shot.
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What's been your favourite campaign that you've shot?

It’s impossible to pick just one favourite, there’s so many that stand out for different reasons. I think Coopers Sparkling has to be up there due to the scale of it, and also due to the team I was working with on the job being absolute legends. The 5TH Tokyo range campaign is up there too. Again, great team, great concept and it just all came together exactly how it was envisioned. And a bit of a random one is a job I did for a company called OEG who run outdoor education camps for schools. One of my first goals with photography was to inspire people to get out outdoors and this job was a big realisation of that. I really enjoyed stepping out of the studio and just winging it to make the most out of each location. Even though the days were long and exhausting it was some of the most fun and rewarding work I’ve had the privilege to do with a camera. And hopefully, it inspired one or two young people to get into the outdoors!

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And lastly, what's been keeping you inspired during lockdown?

    During the lockdown, I’ve been keeping inspired by a combination of things. A lot of inspiration has just come from seeing my friends and clients adapting to the current climate and pushing on no matter the circumstances. I feel like we all feed off each other. Other than that, lots of music, podcasts and a healthy dose of Netflix. 
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    Shop the Geneva Collection now: www.the5th.co/collections/geneva-collection

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