In 2007, Sonja Gutschera and Leif Osthoff entered into a freelance cooperation in Berlin. At that time, Leif worked as a self-employed photographer, cameraman and electrician, while Sonja’s focussed on art direction and photography. Since they have relocated to Berlin in spring 2009, both have been working exclusively as a duo in the beauty and advertisement field.
Q: Sonja, Leif, three years ago you formed a cooperation and have since become a successful photographer duo. What was the crucial reason for forming your professional partnership?
Sonja: At the beginning our intention was to strictly separate private from professional concerns. For this reason the idea to realize a common freelance project in Berlin came with gut instinct only. And our occupations had been in similar fields of work.
Leif: That is right. The crucial point in favour of a cooperation in the form of a photographer duo has been that the motifs become more intense, more autonomous. They radiate a quality and presence we can only achieve when working as a team. We cannot explicitly describe this “special moment” during a shooting, but this is just the charm of it. A major advantage is that our different personalities, approaches and perspectives make themselves felt and help establish a deeper level of perception.
Q: Which approaches and perspectives do you share and which are different?
Sonja: In our first common projects it was quite easy to see who had triggered the release at what moment, but this has changed quickly. Initially, I had an exact visual idea in mind. In some cases it took quite a while before I finally triggered the release. Leif has been much more spontaneous and relaxed.
Leif: Although I had fairly precise ideas too. Basically, there is, of course, this typical gender stereotype aspect: Sonja is a woman, I am a man. But for our work, the final result of our work this is only a secondary aspect. The important thing is that we can both insert our personalities in one and the same picture.
Sonja: With respect to this, we have changed our methods, views and beliefs – the way we enter into a project, the way we take pictures etc.
Q: What is your method of cooperation in a project now?
Leif: The complete realization of a project is solely based on teamwork. Starting from developing a visual conception, selecting the models and the members of the team, the technical devices, etc.
Sonja: During a shooting, we take our pictures one after the other or alternately depending on the situation.
Leif: That Sonja has taken on the complete postproduction and coordination resulted in me undertaking all the preparation. But despite this division of labour, everything is agreed upon jointly.
Q: For your shooting in the Leica Photokina Studio 2010 you prepared yourself very intensely. Despite this meticulous planning, is there still room for spontaneity or do you in any case prefer to stick to your preconceived method?
Sonja: During a shooting, unplanned situations do always occur and sometimes these moments are the best. It is the “free section”, so to say. There have, for instance, been situations in which in the end only one of us did take all the pictures.
Leif: It is because of our intense preparation that we can react flexibly and spontaneously. It is very important for both of us to respect each other’s freedom. Without this respect, so close a cooperation as ours could not work at all.
Q: During this year’s Leica Photokina Studio you used the S2. What was your experience during the shooting?
Sonja: The first S2 prototype Leif and I had in hand during the 2008 Photokina. From the beginning, we have been enthusiastic about the ergonomic body and the simple operation – reduced design, an easy to operate menu, everything reduced to the essential features. In short, an excellent medium format camera fit for all applications! In our view, apart from the selection of the members of the team, brilliance and high definition are the prerequisites of a good photograph.
Leif: Also excellent is the camera’s 2:3 ratio! A very positive aspect I realized while using the S2 is its simple and clear ergonomics. The camera feels as light/heavy as a professional DSLR with intense standard zoom. But the greatest fun has been the 120mm APO close-up lens that, thanks to its sharpness, colour fidelity, brilliance and resolution, produces an enamel effect perfectly in line with our reduced and very expressive beauties.
Sonja, Leif, thank you very much!
-Leica Internet Team
To see more work from the dynamic duo, visit their website: http://www.gutschera-osthoff.com/.