An “old hand” in the business—but always with new ideas—Roger Richter has been one of Westend61’s regular photographers since 2014. For the 52-year-old, it was clear from an early age that photography was “his thing.” The Wiesbaden native studied photography with Prof. Dr. Hans Puttnies at the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt and soon went into business for himself. In addition to his work for Westend61, Richter works as an advertising photographer for well-known companies and international corporations. His preferred subject areas are People, Business, Architecture & Interior, Food, as well as Social Responsibility.

 

Before Roger came to Westend61, he submitted his photos to Getty Images and Corbis, among others. “When I first came to Westend61, it was a kind of test balloon for me. But then I gradually realized that everything worked very well there, and above all very consistently,” he says. But taking professional pictures alone is not enough in stock photography. “The decisive factor is the ranking: You can better sell pictures if they are easy to find at an agency,” says Roger Richter.

 

Roger—like most of his colleagues—has witnessed the market environment become increasingly difficult for photo professionals. The sheer mass of available images and pricing pressures make it difficult in stock photography to sell elaborately produced images. The flood of digital photos not only creates sensory overload for viewers, but it also often obscures the signs of quality of well-made pictures: “The market has a huge problem because all market participants play in the same league, so to speak,” says Roger Richter. This can be frustrating: “You produce professionally at high costs and then throw your pictures into a flood of millions of images,” Roger observed. He calls it “the big black hole” in which some good pictures simply sink.

 

“The second big problem is that many photo agencies are unaware that they are ruining the prices if they offer the photos at giveaway prices. How are the production costs supposed to be recovered?” asks Roger. He has observed that agencies often try to recoup declining sales according to the motto “mass instead of class”—not a good perspective for professionals behind the camera who still offer high quality and have to invest accordingly in production costs. Roger gives an example from the area of “people” photography: “If I want to have three generations with grandparents, parents, and children there, and book professionals as models for parents and grandparents, I can quickly reach production costs of over 5,000 euros a day.”

In view of these difficult conditions, Roger Richter is glad that, along with stock photography, he has advertising photography as his economic mainstay, for which he sometimes produces pictures for campaigns or other specific purposes on behalf of well-known companies and corporations. And there is another field in which he was and is active: Roger has photographed for numerous volunteer projects in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. On these trips, he has taken, for example, pictures of the earthquake region in Kashmir, where he had travelled with Rupert Neudeck (1939-2016), the founder of the aid organization Cap Anamur, pictures of the slums in India as well as pictures documenting the work of the development aid organization Andheri-Hilfe in Bangladesh. In contrast to the cool world of stock and advertising photography at home, the experiences on these trips can be emotionally moving—such as, for instance, when Roger portrayed a girl in Bangladesh who had spent her entire childhood blind but was able to see again after an eye operation. His pictures helped raise awareness for the fate of the many blind people in this country as well as raise money for eye operations that can restore eyesight for many of them. This unpaid work, with which Roger Richter supports the work of NGOs (non-governmental organizations), has a special value for him personally: “As a photographer, you get so much back because it is simply meaningful.”

 

Apropos emotions: They are, of course, an important topic, not only with regard to one’s own inner life, but also when it comes to attracting attention to his work. In the “recipe” for a good photo, the emotionality of the motif—in addition to a solid photographic foundation—plays a big role for Roger Richter. And the keys to this are interesting, expressive faces, followed by a good location.

And—which brings us back to the “black hole”—last but not least, the photographer needs a reliable partner to help him market his work so that it is not simply overlooked or underpaid. In addition to the decent showcasing of his pictures mentioned previously, for Roger Richter, it is above all the good personal connections and professional support that make Westend61 a great partner for him.