Gemma Ferrando (32) from Barcelona has a great talent to capture emotional moments in her images. She creates a special kind of an intimacy by stepping up close towards her models. But it is not only her. Part of the images are taken by her partner, Jérémie Roman. Together they are the „Studio in the Wild“. Their studio is outdoors. It is the whole world, that they like to travel and that they like to photograph just as they perceive it. A world that is absolutely adorable and that we like to bring to the market successfully.
Dear Gemma, how did you get into photography?
Hi Gerald! Well, initially I started out with photography by traveling. When I was a little child, I used to travel a lot with my parents. I began to use my Dad´s old analog SLR camera to capture the memories I gathered around the world.
A few years later I studied audiovisual communication at the university. A degree that included many areas I was interested in, such as photography, television and cinema. There I discovered editing programs for pictures and videos for the first time. That was in 2005, the same time, when I got my first digital SLR camera. From that time I was hooked on photography forever!
How would you describe your own photographic style?
To be honest I don´t think too much about my own style. I believe an outsider could tell better. I lack the right distance!
I work very intuitively and at the end of the day our portfolio is a map of our lives. I think there are very vivid images of what we like and what we don´t. Traveling, animals and portraits that convey a lot of emotions. To us the best compliment is: Your pictures make us want to travel!
Almost never I work in a studio. Instead, we always take photos outside at different places. Therefore stands our name, which we just recently introduced: Studio in the wild. We use natural lighting and try to image simple scenarios – indoors and outdoors – which don´t require much more technical infrastructure than a camera and a reflector maybe.
Although we want to work with models more often in the future , we always like to photograph people that we know and whom we have a relationship to. Many friends and family members can be seen in our pictures, because we want to show authentic and real things. The real lives of real people. Not all of us are top models! In this way we communicate concepts and emotions maybe even straighter and more pure.
© Gemma Ferrando/Westend61
How long have you already been working for stock agencies and how did you get the idea to do that?
Well, I discovered stock photography in 2011, when an american agency became aware of my pictures at Flickr. The first years were rather an experiment, but my photography developed to an extend where I finally realized the great potential of the Stock Photography. Particularly the huge amount of creative freedom which the photographer can enjoy here.
Is photography your main source of income or do you have another job?
To me photography is an important way to earn money but it is not the only one. I also work in the „New Media“-Department of a Broadcast Company.
You travel a lot. Last year we received your pictures from Italy, Peru and Namibia. Can you finance your travels with the income that you have from the Stock Photography?
Well, we try to! Some travels refinance themselves better than others, which probably has to do with the different destinations. But it is clearly an extra motivation to take pictures. Financing the trips for two people is a bit complicated, but we travel individually and without any luxury. That helps.
These trips are a long-term investment and will only pay off over time. But all the experiences that we make are spontaneous and that is priceless!
Your pictures are very authentic. This is partly because many times you or your partner can be seen in the images. Do you have a precise plan before you go on trips or do the images arise rather spontaneously?
Before we travel, we look at pictures of the area which we are going to visit in order to get an idea of what will expect us. Especially in order to prepare travel plans that guarantee the best lighting conditions for each site. But in the end we don´t stick to them to close. Our travel images are very spontaneous. You always have certain motives on your mind, but oftentimes the best ideas come to us while we are already on site.
When we shoot in Barcelona, we do more planning beforehand and work with a storyboard as our guideline. Nevertheless we still like to improvise even then!
To me it seems as if you have a really good idea of what the essence of stock photography is. Your portfolio represents by a wide variety of topics. As an agency how do we inspire you?
The truth is that a significant part of my portfolio is influenced by the suggestions the agency makes. Westend61 is a great source of inspiration. On a regular basis they offer shooting ideas to their photographers and you can also seek advice regarding what you should focus on. That is great for the photographers because they constantly remain active, keep on planning new shoots and also they receive a guide on a successful realization.
Before traveling to Peru, Bolivia and Chile, I talked about it to my editor who supervises me. Many of the images that were taken on these trips are influenced by the discussions with her and the advise she gave me. You can see it in the pictures, but fortunately also in the sales!
Do you take pictures with your smartphone as well?
Of course I do! It is the best possible way to always carry a camera with you. Besides that, I am very satisfied with the technical quality of the latest generation of smartphones. I started uploading those images at Westend61 just a while ago but for sure I´ll do it much more often in the future. Those images are very different from the ones that I usually take with my DSLR. They are more spontaneous, tend to show the everyday-life and details, that I´m interested in… And the editing is much more flexible and creative. I love it!
Which of your images is your favorite one in the Westend61-Portfolio and why?
That is a difficult question! Since almost all our images reflect the real life, I feel a strong emotional connection to them, which sometimes is very special. I remember when we took the images, the feelings and emotions of the moment …
I think one of my big favorites is a sunset in Florence. Jérémie, the other half of Studio in the wild took the image on the Ponte Santa Trinita. There was just a very beautiful sunset. In my opinion the image breathes the romance of Florence, the ancient enchantment of the city – with those small houses along the river banks that reflect in the water, that little boat and the spectacular italian light. While I´m telling you that… a smile appears on my face and I can almost feel the sun on my skin! No doubt, that´s one of my favorite images! But we took a lot of pictures there and I love all of them.
What are your plans for 2016? Which themes can we look forward to?
In 2016 we would like to keep on traveling! We are not quite sure yet where exactly we will be going to but for sure you will see images from Fuerteventura, Budapest and Paris before the beginning of summer.
Besides that I would like to take more pictures from Barcelona and it´s surroundings. There will be travel images as much as mediterranean lifestyle content. For example: I noticed that I have more images from Chile than from the city I live in. That must not be! I have to change that.
From your perception, what makes a good stock photographer? What would you recommend our newcomers?
Well, it´s difficult to give any recommendations while you are still learning yourself. Also, every photographer has his own world he lives in.
To me, what counts is: Taking pictures, that you can enjoy yourself, and a certain consistency .
It´s no secret, that commercially successful images always carry a concept within them. For stock photography that is an important requirement. But if you only look out for that, you will easily start to bore yourself after a while…
To me it is most important that I am able to enjoy my own images, that I like what I do and that I have a good time taking them. By the time photography turns into pure work and it is only about producing, it becomes routine and looses its magic.
To me it is also important to keep my freedom and not to become too obsessed with the thought „what will sell best“ or what´s on the list. In the beginning it is very important to deliver on a regular basis and you may not be disappointed if it doesn´t pay off right away. Stock is a long-time investment.
But oh well, that´s more my own thoughts rather than any recommendation.
And now the last question: Why is Westend61 the right home to your images?
Well, for many reasons!
Above all, because I know that you take good care of the pictures and that you work hard to place them very well on the market.
Westend61 has a great team. Very talented, very effective and in particular very close to the photographer. At Westend61 you never feel like being only a number and that’s very nice. The contact is always very personal and you are able to discuss trends, ask questions and that definitely helps you grow as a photographer.
I photograph for other agencies as well, but with none of them I feel as comfortable as with Westend61!
It is really a great pleasure to work with you guys!
Dear Gemma, thank you very much for the interview!