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Stephan Bollinger

portrait studio sport

Who are you and what kind of photography do you specialise in?

My name is Stephan Bollinger, and I'm a people photographer, based on the Gold Coast in Australia. I specialise in Beauty, Fashion and Lifestyle photography, however I have been shooting "sports" quite intensively for a while, and due to my stage background, I'm still working with dancers and theatrical performances quite often. I'm originally from Switzerland, but I now call Australia home.

If I'm not shooting, I teach photography workshops, write articles for different publications, produce the photography show "10 from the couch", and I'm quite active on Google+.

In the past, I made a living as singer and actor (in musicals, bands, and on tv), however over the years my love for photography won the battle between "in front - or - behind the camera". These days, my personal experiences on stage and in front of the camera allow me to help my subjects create better images (posing and expression, but also self confidence and generally feeling good).

My biggest talent: To make people look and feel beautiful.

What cameras and lenses do you use?

My very first camera was a Nikon, and it felt good in my hands, so I never changed. "I'm a Nikon guy". Initially, I had no idea what to do with it, so I just used one lens for everything. As I dove deeper into the crazy wormhole of photographic understanding, I started to believe that better gear would create better pictures. Of course I was wrong, but it took me a while to completely understand this. So when asked what gear I use, I am holding back these days because I believe even the entry level cameras produce amazing images.

To answer the question however, I currently use a Nikon D800 for my studio work, and the Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 is probably my most used lens, followed by the 24-70mm f2.8. I tend to photograph people with longer lenses, because I find it more flattering to human proportions due to the lens compression.

What kind of extra equipment do you use whilst shooting?

I have an array for little (and not so little) tools, which I use all the time. For me, a typical shoot starts with getting the colours right, so I always use the Xrite ColorChecker Passport for accurate colour post processing, and the ExpoDisc from ExpoImaging for in-camera white balance.

In terms of lights, I use a mixed bag of lights, depending on the situation and concept, starting from Nikon speedlights to Profoto strobes. For my studio portrait work, I often use a 2m octa bank, producing a magic soft light. As a matter of fact, it is so soft, it feels like "cheating" sometimes. Other modifiers I use are strip-banks, snoots, and a beauty dish.

Some of these items are on the pricey side, however many of the items I use every day are not. Quite often you can find me at Bunnings (our local hardware store), to look for interesting (and cheap) ideas how to shape, limit or bend the light.

What hardware do you use for post-processing?

I'm a Apple Mac person. During a shoot, everything runs through a Macbook pro, and I post-process images on a Mac Pro with 30" screens.

What software do you use for post-processing?

Adobe Lightroom 4, Photoshop CS6, Nik Software Suite.

What is missing from your current workflow?

I'm pretty happy with my workflow. I'd love to speed the post-processing up, to get out shooting more, but regardless of how fast hard- and software becomes, I will probably always say the same thing. Besides, a good retouch takes time, manual labour and a good eye (sometimes even a good glass of red wine).

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