Member Spotlight – February 2023

Member Spotlight – February 2023

Member Spotlight – February 2023

Member Spotlight – February 2023

by | Feb 10, 2023 | Member Spotlight

by | Feb 10, 2023 | Member Spotlight

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Géran Raath is an award-winning fashion and fine art photographer who believes that photography is about creating a lasting impact through visual storytelling. Along with his wife, Michelle, he runs a digital visual art studio in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. 

Describe yourself in two sentences.

A dad with a camera who studied Production Design to become a photographer, married to his creative director and muse. Heavily influenced by cinema, I cling to retro values, yet I am excited about AI (Artificial Intelligence) taking over…

Please tell us more about what you do and how long you’ve been a freelancer.

I changed careers in 2021 and started freelancing because of Covid – finally started doing what I’ve always wanted to. Michelle and I have a studio in Nelspruit. We are a digital visual art studio for lack of a better term. Our studio has two divisions: Product Photography and Visual Body Art. Whenever Michelle is busy designing and building a new concept, I photograph and design marketing material for products. This ranges from E-commerce to high-end jewellery and fashion items. Michelle creates themes by building prosthetics, wings etc. and we are working on a series of winged creatures for the first part of 2023. When we started, we did a bit of everything from sport photography to corporate headshots, but we’ve made a call at the end of last year and now focus on larger campaigns for our commercial clients and art as our main personal focus.

What does a day in your life look like?

It always starts with coffee! We get to the studio at 08:00 and mornings are normally dedicated to emails, gallery/contest submissions, client call-backs and research. It’s not as glamorous as YouTube wants us all to believe. We spend a lot of time researching and designing the sets and costumes of a shoot. If we’re not prepping the set or casting a mould, I will edit or design a lighting plan. You’re always two jobs behind in this game. We normally shoot after lunch; this also gives Michelle time to apply makeup in the morning. After shooting, which normally ends at around 18:00, I will edit. I am a night owl, so my best work is done late at night. For general client work the days look similar but with me spending the better part of the day on the studio floor getting a product to look just right.

Where/how do you find inspiration?

Weekends with a glass of wine while we sit on our deck waiting for the coals. This is when Michelle and I throw ideas around. We write them down and develop them during the week. Inspiration comes from film, other artists, or social issues that we want to comment on. I find the 3D artists’ work incredibly interesting. Pinterest is good for that; however, I feel it’s incredibly important to study the old masters. We have a little reading corner in the house, so I will sit there with five or six books open about Helmut Newton, Michelangelo, Doré, etc. Books are always better because you can remain on a page for longer instead of scrolling to the next bit of a feed.

What advice do you have for other freelancers?

When I was in my early twenties working as a Steadicam operator, I would have said it’s the latest piece of gear and your skill that sets you apart. However, having worked in the freelancing world and having my own business and now being back in the life of a freelancer it’s your vision that I feel is most important. Clients want to know you care about their project. They don’t care about bit depth or resolution. They care about your understanding of their need and how you present the solution. Spend more time selling your creativity than your equipment and so by extension, spend more money developing your creativity than your gearlist. I’m not saying you can do any job with the cheapest equipment but think about it this way. When you get a job you can hire in an edit suite, camera, lights or grips, but the moment you have to hire in more creativity you’re not the best person for that job.

How long have you been a Safrean, and why are you a member of Safrea?

I’m not good with dates but I think it’s about five months now. Originally the Safrea rates helped me determine what I should be charging when we just started out. However, being part of a community has proved to be very beneficial to both align myself and my business to industry standards. I believe Safrea is a very valuable initiative with its training, industry insights and conversations between freelancers. I would advise any person starting out as a freelancer to join. The biggest benefit is that the information is specifically catered to South Africans.

What is your work/life motto?

“Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” – Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)