Interview with Christian Brockes on Photography Trends

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© Christian Brockes.
Christian Brockes Headshot.

Website:
https://wildmacro.de/

Country: Germany

Photography Genres: Macro and Wildlife

Fave Camera Brand: OM System

Socials:
Instagram


What’s in your camera bag?

  • OM SYSTEM OM-1
  • OM SYSTEM OM-D E-M1 III
  • OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 90mm f3.5 Macro IS Pro
  • OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8
  • OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f3.5 Macro
  • SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO
  • OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO
  • OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO
  • OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko 8-25 f4 PRO
  • Laowa 50mm 2:1 f/2.8
  • Laowa 15mm f4 Wide Angle Macro
  • Godox V860III
  • Godox V350
  • Godox MF12
  • Raynox DCR250
  • Cygnustech Diffuser & AK Diffuser

Are there any specific equipment or gear innovations that you believe will have a significant impact on the industry in 2024?

Macro lighting, diffusion equipment, and specialized macro lenses.

How is photography making the world a better place in 2024?

Being a macro photographer, I think wildlife and nature photography can have a huge impact on how we see the world.

All this time, where we know there are extreme threats to the survival of many species and destinations all around the globe.

Macro photography, in particular, is a window into a tiny world of wonders that most of us have never seen before. The many different and colorful textures and forms of the tiniest creatures are often not visible to the naked eye.

Fascination can spark interest, awareness, and conservation, which is why I think macro photography is a great ambassador for the things we often do not see.

I think the mixture of media content will be getting more popularity in 2024; mixing video and still image content can be seen a lot already on many social media platforms. AI-generated content will also play into the mix. In general, every form of photography is constantly getting more popular since access to high-quality photographic gear has increased.

macro image by Christian Brockes.
© Christian Brockes.

If you could pick a photography mentor in 2024, who would you pick? Why?

Currently, that would probably be Roman Willi, who takes excellent behavioral macro photos. His work is heavily influenced by a documentary style, which is not too prominent in high-magnification macro photography yet.

The unavoidable question: How do you see the use of artificial intelligence or machine learning impacting photography in 2024?

While AI-generated media are extremely interesting and can also be super realistic, close to a real photo, for example, it is at the same time very important to be able to differentiate between a real and an AI-generated image.

As for macro photography in particular, AI is still not able to replicate a real-looking macro photo to perfection – but it is coming astonishingly close.

AI will greatly impact creative agencies in 2024, as many of them are already using AI imagery. It will be interesting to see how this can or will threaten photographers’ jobs in the end.

What is your favorite photography book or resource that will continue to have a significant impact on your career in 2024? Why?

The most important resource for me is books on insect and spider species, mainly for identification purposes, and also feedback/interaction with fellow wildlife macro photographers. The community is highly connected, and knowledge regarding specialized tech/ gear or photo locations and destinations is often passed on by word-of-mouth.

© Christian Brockes.

What is your go-to method for overcoming creative block and finding inspiration in 2024?

My method to overcome creative blocks is usually a mixture of stepping back and focusing on other things. Being out in nature helps a lot to free your mind and is a great environment for relaxation and finding inspiration.

I also like to look at completely different fields of photography to find inspiration there and then try to incorporate new concepts into my own photographic workflow and style.

If you could give one piece of advice to a beginner in photography, what would it be?

Getting inspiration is a great start, but it is important to be able to take a step back sometimes and stop the constant comparing. Especially since social media encourage this, while most of the time important information is missing to really understand what you see or read.

Also, failing is completely natural and normal – try to learn from failures and get better through them. When it comes to macro photography in particular, my best piece of advice would be (if you are using a flash): get a customized diffuser!

Image of ants by Christian Brockes.
© Christian Brockes.

Can you share a specific tool, technology, or software that has revolutionized your workflow and significantly enhanced your creative process as a photographer?

The OM SYSTEM cameras have sped up my macro workflow a lot, with features like focus bracketing, and focus stacking and being a very lightweight and compact system, which makes it perfect for fieldwork. Probably one of the most important pieces of gear for macro photography with flash is a macro diffuser. Using one will instantly increase your image and lighting quality.

On the software side, the Topaz suite with Sharpen AI, Gigapixel, and DeNoise offers me all options for the perfect finetuning of my highly detailed photos.

Any thoughts on the relationship of NFT and photography?

As with every collectible, the concept of NFT is interesting but a bit too exclusive for my personal taste due to the access. To me, photography is best enjoyed printed big.

Christian Brockes Portrait.

Wildlife and Nature Photography can have a huge impact on how we see the world.

Christian Brockes

What is your biggest strength and your biggest weakness as a photographer in 2024?

A big strength is that I am currently very confident with my gear and workflow, which is optimized to effectively take photos under challenging conditions with a high hit rate. While trying out new gear is fun, and improving often requires adapting to the latest trends, it is also a great advantage to have a stable system, which you can even use with your eyes closed and without the need to constantly learn and experiment (which of course is still a great thing to do).

A weakness is the lack of time to travel to the many destinations on the map, always on the lookout for insects and spiders. An important ingredient to macro photography is patience, which I sometimes struggle to find.

What is the biggest challenge in your photography genre in 2024? What are the solutions?

In macro photography, the biggest challenges for a macro photographer are mostly lighting and magnification. For 2024, I am looking forward to the development and release of more high magnification gear and macro-specialized lenses and flashes, although there are great solutions available yet for this. With macro photography being a niche, this is all very dependent on the big brands/manufacturers) and how they weigh this field of photography in their product portfolio.

What is the most important factor to consider when choosing a photography niche or specialization in 2024?

I think it is important to find a specialization that is truly a niche but at the same time is seomthing that really makes you happy. It does not help to occupy a niche which you do not like just for the sake of it being a niche.

When you enjoy what you do, a job feels like fun, and success will most likely follow automatically, depending on the scale of the endeavors.

Finding and connecting/communicating/ interacting with other people, focusing on the same niche, is equally important to create an audience and should be part of the thought process.

Image by Christian Brockes.
© Christian Brockes.

Is there anything else you would like to add or any final thoughts you would like to share about your artistic journey, inspirations, or the impact you hope to make through your photography?

Climate change and habitat loss threaten a lot of species. Knowledge and understanding may lead to acceptance and respect towards many of these creatures.

Wildlife photography is a wonderful tool to create a change in attitude and perspective and can be part of a bigger process when it comes to conservation through fascination. Photographing creatures that most people have not seen nor known that they existed also documents the immense diversity of nature’s wonders and opens up a new perspective to our urban point of view. This is what makes macro photography so fascinating – both for the photographer and the viewer.

You think we missed an important question? Feel free to both formulate and answer that question here! Any final thoughts? Feel free to add them below.

What are the most important ingredients to creating stunning imagery?

While high-quality gear can sometimes make the difference, most of the time, the quality of your photos is not dependent on gear alone. Knowing how to use it and having a vision is what makes your photography stand out. Having a signature style, a very specialized niche, or simply a different take on something can add to your photos and make them stand out from the many others. There are a lot of ingredients to the perfect image, and often, you can make up for some deficiencies with something else.

  • Favourite photography digital tool in 2024
    — Topaz Sharpen AI
  • Your favourite Photographer in 2024
    — Roman Willi
  • Which social media platform do you use the most as a photographer?
    — Instagram
  • Will you use or experiment with NFT in 2024?
    — No
  • Do you think the always-improving cameras on smartphones will result in less work for professional photographers in 2024?
    — Yes
  • What is your motto for 2024?
    — “New adventures, new encounters.”
  • Can you name one unconventional location or setting that photographers should explore to create memorable images?
    — Forest
  • Which photography trend will dominate the industry in 2024?
    — Content creation
  • Three must-have photography gadgets or tools for aspiring photographers?
    — Portable pocket flash, flash diffuser, and mini gimbal.
  • Name one unconventional source of inspiration that photographers should explore for fresh ideas in 2024.
    — Ideas and motifs from literature.
  • One underrated photography technique that can instantly enhance a photographer’s portfolio
    — Effective lighting for macro photography: flash photography with a diffuser.
  • What is the most innovative use of technology you’ve seen in photography recently?
    — Starry night AF (OM SYSTEM) for star photos.
  • Which photography conference, workshop, event, exhibition, etc., would you recommend to photographers in 2024?
    — Microsculptures (Levon Biss)
  • Who to follow on social media or take inspiration from in 2024?
    — David Attenborough

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Perrin lives as a nomad in Canada and spends his time shooting landscape photography while exploring the wilderness. Throughout his career, Perrin has been a wedding, portrait, and product photographer. However, his passion always leads him back to the outdoors, where he teaches people how to photograph and interact with the natural world.
Perrin lives as a nomad in Canada and spends his time shooting landscape photography while exploring the wilderness. Throughout his career, Perrin has been a wedding, portrait, and product photographer. However, his passion always leads him back to the outdoors, where he teaches people how to photograph and interact with the natural world.
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