Oliver Oettli Photography

Back in April, I applied for this job. The morning after my return from London, my interview at Oliver Oettli Photography near Berne, Switzerland was scheduled. In the afternoon, I started to work.

I was hired as an assistant. That includes cleaning the camera lenses, tidying up all equipment, making coffee, doing the necessary Photoshop retouching work, and packing gear for shootings, as well as scheduling appointments and researching on whatever needs researching.

At first, I was overwhelmed with the tasks at hand but after two weeks I got faster at Photoshop, moving from over an hour per picture to 5-10 minutes, with higher quality results. In my time there, I have retouched well over 200 photos, and done light Lightroom adjustments on about ten times that, but we don’t count that as retouching, merely editing, playing around with settings.

oettli_02

We held a 15-people workshop for YPP, teaching them business photography, the only concrete area of the field in which money can be made. Except high-end fashion or high-end anything, business is what attracts corporate clients. Corporate clients are the ones with consistent jobs and pay.

The tasks were very diverse: I was taken to corporate business portrait shootings at companies such as Ernst & Young and Helsana, accompanied Oliver to on-site editorial work for a local energy supplier and on a large book publication with 27 sub-clients. We even captured a modern church, complete with drone-pictures of the architecture and fiddly puzzling of multiple-exposure photos of the windows.

oettli_03

As time moved forward, more of my skills were used than initially planned. So I translated Oliver’s website and added code to easily switch languages, fixed his SEO and a few other design flaws. Together, we worked on updating his portfolio and with that came a revamp of his logo and business card.

oettli_07

oettli_04

Reworking the 54-page portfolio (which you can view here), the 8-page-mini-A5-folio as well as the website was stressful. There was a growing tension between us and yet we managed to produce a result that we can both be tremendously proud of.

oettli_08

oettli_05

All the branding I’ve done so far was for academic projects and while I did my best to produce solid results that I would still enjoy months after, I’ve never had the chance to work on a real corporate identity before. I’ve done a number of logo iterations, only to decide that we shouldn’t use an image, but just the name as a logo. For the business cards, I produced five pages of alternative layouts, narrowing down on details towards the end.

oettli_06

In my three months as a professional photographer’s assistant I’ve learned more about detail and consistency than about photography. If there’s one rule of photography I couldn’t escape in my time there, that would be:

Get the lighting right when you shoot, don’t just fix it in Photoshop.

– Oliver Oettli