Very few people are able to do multiple things at the same time and be good at them all. With a genuine love for photography, a fervour for building communities, and an inquisitively creative mind, photographer André Duhme wears multiple hats.
André is not only a photographer, but also a podcaster and has created a tool for photographers to generate cool and popular photographs with presets. Being a Cherrydeck member, we got in touch when he spoke about photography with our founder, Philipp Baumgaertel, on his own podcast channel.
Today, we chat with André about the ups and downs of running a business and building a successful community online while having photography always in focus.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you become a photographer?
For a long time I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Everything after graduation seemed like a never-ending loophole. My studies, the advertising agencies I worked in. One day I was fired and instead of going to the employment office, I got a tax number and started working as a photographer.
I can’t say if that is what really made me a photographer. Although, I think it started earlier, when I saw the work of Anton Cobijn and immediately thought — “I would like to do that too!”
You also create and sell presets — what is your main source of income? Photography jobs or revenue from your website?
I would like to be known as a photographer which is why I concentrate and focus on it and feel that it should be good enough to feed me. What I do with presets is more of a hobby. I had an idea and I put to use. I can always fall back on presets though. They help me define my photography in a refined manner. I consider it to be a luxury as it allows me to focus on what I want to do.
Why do you think people buy your work?
It is all about reputation. People who I trust, have supported my preset project and I try not to disappoint them. I also strive to communicate honestly and directly with my clients. If I treat them with respect and walk the extra mile when necessary.
If any of my clients are facing a technical difficulty, I assist them directly over a call. Due to the interest I take in them, it helps me know and understand them better. It’s a wonderful feeling to cross paths with so many different people in my life.
Recently, a photographer who’s work I adore made a purchase from me and I immediately picked up the phone to express my excitement. If not for presets, I wouldn’t have the courage to initiate a contact.
Non-photographers could say presets are to professional photos like filters are to Instagram. Why are they so popular?
That is a good debate to have. In the past I have demonised presets myself similar reasons. I was of the opinion that as a good photographer, I need to keep the post-production in check during the shoot itself. I believed that – He who thinks of himself, builds what he needs himself.
With time and bigger productions, I realised that as a photographer, I am responsible for the story I tell through the photograph. Editors, who are experts in their field, can deliver a better end result to it.
Presets is an idea. You can choose to use it as is or build on it further. Some people just look at how the presets are structured and develop their own conclusions. Ultimately, it takes time to analyse how the analog content will loo digitally.
If everyone is using popular presets, don’t you fear that we will start seeing a similar photographic mood?
In mediums across photography, graphic design, sculpting etc. we have something called an aesthetic perception. Some of these last for a shorter period of time like a fad. For example, in cinema we have a teal and orange shade that we see in almost every blockbuster production. It simply works well and is recognised positively by the audiences.
It’s all about the concept. Creating a few photographs is not art. But creating a clever concept along with it is what matters.André Duhme
You also run a Facebook community which is very active and resourceful. How did you start this community?
I never wanted to sell presets. In the beginning, I was just working on a Kodachrome look and I informed people about it via posts on Facebook. I soon realised that people wanted to buy them even before they were ready. I was smitten by the attention I received. To communicate with people about The Classic Presets, I came up with the idea of creating a Facebook group. Slowly, it became more about photography than just presets.
I sometimes joke about the fact that people visit the group for presets but end up staying and engaging due to the important photography issues discussed. Photographers do not necessarily need presets but if they have the right concept and craftsmanship, the images will turn out to be beautiful. I end up imparting more knowledge about it than I started out to.
Why do you think people are taking part in the discussions in your group? What is different from all the other facebook groups?
Somehow, as a group we have managed to make people comfortable. We support each other and feel free to ask questions. Most members do not use the group to present their work but to learn and discuss issues.
I think I played my cards well in the beginning. I only invited like minded people who would be helpful to all. From then on, the group turned into the community on its own.
Looking at Facebook and it’s ever changing algorithm, do you think your success in the group may take a dive sometime?
Many members tell me that they use Facebook solely because of this group. At the moment, I do not see Facebook limiting the concept of Groups like what they did with Facebook pages. But you never know!
It obviously makes more sense to be better established with another foot on the ground but it is not easy moving all my users to another platform. I did try using Telegram as an option but it did not work as well. Most users are now comfortable with Facebook and moving them to a new medium is not easy.
Do you think having your name out there with the community helps you get more clients?
I did work on a project once thanks to the group but I believe it to be more of a coincidence. Most of the members are fellow photographers and I do not see that resulting in me gaining more clients.
Last question — what is your industry outlook for 2020?
I believe as a photographer, we need to put our heart into a project and financing them is surely becoming complicated. From friends and acquaintances I understand that the budgets for advertising and conceptual photography is shrinking every year.
According to me, photography should always be a passion and not a job. It ideally shouldn’t matter if a client pays you for it or crowdfunding makes the project possible. We photographers need to be smart enough to find ways to keep our passion alive.
André Duhme is a German photographer who enjoys being a photographer, podcaster, and a visionary with a successful business.
To see more of his work, visit his Cherrydeck profile or his website, here. For more inspirational and unconventional selection of podcasts for Creative Entrepreneurs, see our blog with our personal picks, here. ?