Standing out in times of an endless flood of images: an inspiring talk with Florian W. Mueller, winner of Architecture & Interiors Category
The Spotlight Awards for Photographic Excellence, launched by Production Paradise in 2018, highlights world-class professional photographers who are creating the most outstanding imagery in the commercial field.
Today Production Paradise interviews Florian W. Mueller, an internationally awarded and published photographer, specialised in architecture, landscape, people, advertising and abstract photography and the 2018 Spotlight Awards Winner of the Architecture & Interiors Category.
Production Paradise: Tell us about the winning image: the idea behind it, how was it shot?
Florian W. Mueller: The picture was shot in the Church of The Resurrection of Christ (1971) and shows a part of the entrance. It is part of my series “Concrete Cross”, a series about churches, built in the style of “Brutalismus”, mostly in the 1970’s.
One of the main architects of this genre is Pritzker prize award-winner, Gottfried Böhm. He has been considered to be both an Expressionism and post-Bauhaus architect, but he prefers to define himself as an architect who creates “connections” between the past and the future, between the world of ideas and the physical world, between a building and its urban surroundings.
In my series, I play with fragments and details of concrete facades and elements, which are illuminated through colorful church windows. This shows a wonderful interaction between the somehow clean but organic surface of the concrete and the light.
Production Paradise: How would you describe your style?
Florian W. Mueller: I think my style changes from time to time and from subject to subject. At least a little bit. There are very minimalistic series, like my architectural series “Singularity”, “House of Escher” or “Stargazer”, or my abstract works like “Church of Gold”, “Concrete Cross” or “Fragments”. Then you have quite dark works like the landscape works “REM” or “Winterwald”.
In times of endless floods of images and greed for perfection, I see the necessity to look into an entirely different direction: the image is not enough, it is the abstraction and the individual view of the beholder, together they reach into and below the surface of customary patterns of conception.
In this case, abstraction is focused on the reduction to certain facts, forms and objects, but not as an experience of pure non-objectivity.
The imagination of the viewer supplements what is absent; what thematically is not dissolved receives an invisible layer through the observer.
However, sometimes thinking or creating images is not that abstract. When I work for clients, like Porsche over the past two years, I focus on contrary elements or contrasts in the motif and the setting or background to create either tension or harmony.
Production Paradise: How did you end up behind the lens? Tell us about your career path.
Florian W. Mueller: As a child, my father showed me the magical development of paper images in the darkroom and gave me my first camera: an Agfa Rapid with modest three setting options: sun, clouds and lightning. Soon after, an elderly Voigtländer taught me the interaction of shutter speed and aperture, while I was studying I got my first imagery requests, usually portraits and documentaries.
After various stages as a film photographer and various assignments by advertising agencies, the desire to develop and establish my own, independent form of photography matured to broaden the context of photographic and artistic practice.
Since 2013 I am a professional member of the honorable BFF (German Association of professional Photographers and Film Designers) alongside respected names like F.C. Gundlach, Peter Lindbergh, Sarah Moon and Oliviero Toscani.
In 2016, I joined the prestigious AOP (Association of Photographers) in London and promptly became a finalist at the 2016 Grand AOP Awards. In 2017, I was a 6-time finalist and won an AOP award.
My work has been exhibited in galleries and exhibitions in Paris, London, Berlin, New York, Shanghai, Zhouzhou (China), Dusseldorf, Cologne, Athens, Köping (Sweden) and in the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado, USA.
I led the first “Porsche Photography Masterclass” in Malaysia in 2017 and teach photography and fine art worldwide.
Production Paradise: What do you think is necessary to become a successful commercial photographer?
Florian W. Mueller: Patience is not only a virtue, it is necessary.
Beside your commissioned work, keep shooting personal projects, these are often the key to new clients. Nowadays they often want to see pictures which are shot by your eyes and your brain, your imagination and creativity. For my series “REM”, levitating tree trunks in a forest, I drove the 100 Km to that forest nearly 20 times from my hometown, because I was never satisfied with the light. I was hired for a commercial shoot for Porsche Asia because of two personal series I completed wherein not a single car is seen.
Keep shooting. Keep learning. Open your mind and learn to see like a child again. You will meet people that don’t like your work and that is ok. There will be times you do not have any idea what to shoot or work on and that is ok too. You are not a robot. Do not shoot for Instagram likes, shoot for yourself, what you want to see.
Production Paradise: We believe you are not resting on your laurels – what are you working on now?
Florian W. Mueller: Right now, I am working on some personal projects, one will be a stills series, the other includes people, which I do not shoot often but I want to.
I was in Shanghai twice this year, first time to shoot a project for the Shanghai Photofairs with Porsche China and the second time to attend at the great Photofairs for press conferences and interviews. Beside this red-carpet-experience, I dived during the night into the not so glorious and fancy parts of the town and took pictures of people selling their goods in very small and tiny shops and places where they also live. They eat, sleep and play in front of their crowded stores. I call the series “Nightshift”.
I just came back from Berlin, where I exhibited with my BFF colleagues during the EMOP – the European Month of Photography – and believe me, I am full of new ideas and inspirations… Stay tuned!
Production Paradise: The Spotlight awards had a judge’s panel composed of potential clients for commercial photographers – did that influence your choice of image(s) selected for your entry?
Florian W. Mueller: No, not really, although perhaps it made me think at least twice about my submissions and which picture(s) I would submit.
Production Paradise: What made you want to participate in these Awards?
Florian W. Mueller: I was participating in many awards and I did win many awards. But there is just a fistful awards that stand out. Like my three Gold-awards at the BFF magazine or the AOP awards. Because these awards are judged by experts at agencies or creatives I admire. And the Spotlight Awards is a part of it, with judges like the head of creative at Disney, art buyers and creative directors at BBDO, Jung von Matt, Grey, Adobe and many more. It is an extraordinary jury and to be chosen as a finalist, and of course as a winner, is really something. Not to mention the wonderful prizes!