Updated: Dec 23, 2020
We were blessed with the privilege of connecting with celebrity photographer, Bjoern Kommerell. He has captured images of artists like Elton John, Chad Boseman, Riley Smith, Danny Trejo, Joe Manganiello and Ellen Hollman to name a few.
Photos by Bjoern Kommerell
Bjoern moved to LA from Germany in 1997, just one year after graduating from Business School in ‘96. This was the start of a very promising photography career for the talented artist who acquired his skills all on his own. That’s right! He is entirely self-taught! Some experience and keen observation on the sets of movies and music videos in the late 90s was all he had to learn from.
So what is the key to getting the perfect shot?
“Backlighting!!!!! That's the key to the look. Most of the time I have more lights behind my subject than in front. And sometimes I use a smoke machine in addition to that. It sets the person so beautifully off the background. Second element is to have the background out of focus. A longer lens will help you achieve that effect.”
Here’s a tip to help you select the right photographer for your next shoot!
“Gaining trust of the person you photograph is the most important advice I could give. In order to achieve that you need to be super authentic. The more a person trusts you, the more you can direct them into any creative scenario you want. Props and costumes will always add fun to a shoot and people are more playful.
On the technical side, use a longer lens, zoom in, use portrait mode on your iphone. it will help you to get the background out of focus. If you don't have extra light equipment, here is a good trick to create fantastic light conditions: open the front door and have your subject about 2-3 feet inside on a chair or on the ground. Now you go outside and shoot them with a longer lens or zoom in. Nine out of ten times this will work. If you are shooting your selfie, same way. You can also go to a window (avoid direct sunlight) and hold the phone/camera up right by the window, while you are looking at the window. Make sure it's not too light so that all your skin is completely white. On your phone hold your finger on the display for two seconds until you see a yellow square. Then slide with your finger up or down on the display. This is how you can change the exposure.”
How does he help his clients get comfortable in front of the camera?
“When they arrive I try to create a conversation like a late night show host does; Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon. Chatting about stuff that is current in our lives with a good sense of humor. Joking. Imitating the voice of the grumpy New Yorker at the 7/11 who got mad at me or something. Kind of like a stand up comedian starts his act. Laughing is a fantastic tool, not only to create common ground, but also to loosen up the tension in the body. The diaphragm is activated and gives you basically a little massage in your belly. And that helps relieve a lot of that nervous energy, which people often have before a shoot.
Music!!! Oftentimes I wouldn't even talk much. Especially when I notice my client loves the tunes I put on. Soundtracks are the best for that. Hans Zimmer, Craig Armstron or Thomas Newman are a few of my favorites. The emotional content of a good soundtrack helps the person so much to forget guarding themselves. And then you start telling them stuff. Maybe a story I just made up, in which I created a character for them. And I am always aware of which song I am playing to accompany my stories or scenarios I am telling them. Because the music gets to the the most. The words are just there to do some fine tuning.”
When setting the mood and ambiance for a shoot, color schemes are his domain.
“A lot of it is influenced by the wardrobe. If we find an outfit which looks fantastic on the person, I make sure to choose the complementing color context for the background. It's a very intuitive thing.”
Bjoern not only takes incredible photos, but has also begun to mentor two very lucky individuals. He even has plans to teach photographer hopefuls, tips and tricks of the trade!
“They are with me every day, so basically understudies. But we are thinking about a weekend seminar, once the pandemic craziness has disappeared. Once the dates are set in stone I'll announce it on my instagram @bkheadshots and on my Facebook page”.
Be sure to follow him on Social Media to find out the latest news about his upcoming projects and events!
Watch his work here!
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