I recently had the opportunity to join fashion photographer Werner Himmelbauer on a shoot at the high end boutique hotel Hollmann Beletage in the 1st district of Vienna. The fashion included items from two designers, Ssamyrll and M.m. VankKlein. For this shoot, I served as Werner’s assistant, as well as behind-the-scenes documentarian – one of my favorite challenges. Capturing behind-the-scenes images are one of my favorite topics, as I always love to see just how the finished product is arrived at.
The suite that Werner had the use of for the day included a hamam which served as an excellent backdrop, particularly for M.m VankKlein’s white wedding dress. However, the entire room was a very dark grey, illuminated only by a window and some dramatic ceiling lighting. Werner and I found ourselves, quite literally, shooting in the dark.
When preparing for the shoot, I asked Werner if he’d like me to bring along my studio lights to supplement his existing lighting setup. As it turned out, his main light is a 600 watt, while mine are 400w and 200w, so we had a perfect balance. We used his Jinbei light as the main, and my elinchromes as supplemental fill and backdrop lights. Initially, I was worried about the color balance difference between the two types of lights, and while they are slightly different, Werner managed to compensate the color values perfectly.
The suite also included a massive white bathtub, which immediately caught my eye. I suggested to Werner that this was just too good to pass up on, and he decided to use another of M.m VankKlein’s wedding dresses in this location. As a photographer directing my own shoots, I always find it interesting to see how other photographers work and construct their sets. For the bathtub shot, Werner took a look at the room, turned to me, and said, “Go for it. Set it up the way you want to light it, and let’s see if it works.” After a few minutes, he returned to the room, observed the setup, removed a few items from the vanity, and got to work.
In addition to continually learning from other photographers and how they work, assisting on a shoot also has the advantage of posing as a test model. Werner wanted to use the natural light from the window in the hamam, and used me as a model. While reviewing this shot, I captured the image above. While not part of the shoot, I think it’s one of the best of the day – but I might be a bit biased.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience working with, observing, and learning from Werner and his team including Hair and Makeup: Ratchanee Wien Luang, Stylist: Tanja Auernigg, and Becky and Alina Eva with Stella Models.
View Werner’s final output, One Day in a Suite on Facebook.