Enjoy our conversation with ViewBug community member Soulkey, German photographer who has a special passion for photography.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, how do you describe your photography style?

Hi everybody, my name is Victor Hamke and I'm a 27 year old guy from the middle part of Germany. I finished my studies in Literary, Cultural and Media Studies – but I think that any degree is more or less meaningless for artists; dedication will always show itself through your images and that is all that counts. My photography style is composing-heavy, dark, sometimes melancholic, sometimes tender and romantic shots. I like to show opposites such as black/white, darkness/light, good/evil, satisfaction/misery and so on. I also do portraits, which can be extremely powerful despite their simple nature. I just don't showcase them that much, because I want to offer a different viewing experience – at least that's what I try to do.

2. In one sentence what has photography done for you in your life?

Photography is the passion I was looking for in my life – and for that I love it to bits.

3. When did you start taking photos and what inspired you to get started?

I started with photography in 2012. It was more or less a coincidence, because I had saved money for an eye surgery. I decided to not do it and spend my money on something else – namely a Canon 600D.  At first – like most other people – I just photographed any subject in front of my camera. I quickly discovered my strong interest in people as my subjects. And that's where it all started.

4. What has been your favorite shoot and why?

There is a famous quote, which says: „Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I'm going to take tomorrow“ That quote speaks the truth I guess. Of course I am not going to avoid the question. All of my shoots have a unique experience, flair and fun but I really liked the outdoor session with Ronja.

It was a very sunny day and we went out  a few miles away  from where I live – to a place where you can find pretty much nothing.  The whole composing was developed later in the post-processing. In the beginning we just wanted to take beautiful pictures of a beautiful person in a gorgeous environment. Often times ideas come to mind when you sit in front of your PC and play around with the editing possibilities. In this case, I tried to build a story and create some sort of tension through dynamics and the dragon skull. Narrative elements are important for my photography, I want every photo to tell a story in its own way.

5. Do you remember a difficult photo shoot session? What happened?

There are different factors that can potentially make a shoot session difficult. The most inconvenient situation for me is one when there is no good chemistry between the other subject and myself. Yes, I did experience that – but I won't call names. It happens on very rare occasions.

6. What do you carry in your camera bag?

When it comes to gear I'm a crazy person. I change gear all the time. At the moment I use the Fuji X system (X-T1 with different lenses). I have to admit that I love the mirror-less systems. My favorite camera is the Sony A7. I like its very simple layout, the unmatched image quality and the possibility to experiment with pretty much all vintage glasses. Also I like to do the Fine-Art-shoots with manual lenses. It brings a whole new world of joy to the shooting experience and is dead easy with mirrorless cameras. Additionally it makes you think more and shoot slower, also I carry a reflector/diffusor and a Velbon Tripod.

7. Do you have a favorite location and time of the day to shoot?

I sometimes receive questions about my lighting set-up, which I find funny, because I'm shooting with natural light only. Although I love the natural light as my main tool, it has the downside of being out of my control. I like the light just about 2 hours before the sun goes down. It has a very soft look and the colors are beautifully muted. I prefer to shoot portraits in narrow streets, because of the unique light angles.

8. Can you share three tips with your fellow photographers?

1. Master your craft. Easier said than done. You should always try  to strive for technical perfection. From time to time you will create something that you like even if it is not technically sound. That is perfectly fine.
2. Break the rules. For me it's very important to not stay in my comfort zone and break with the conventions. This is one of the toughest tasks for artists because our minds are shaped through what we consume. It's hard to set ourselves apart and do something different, to think different - we should try our best to do it.
3. Enjoy. Passion is what photography is all about, enjoy the art of photography!

9. Please share one of your favorite photos with us with a short tutorial:

This is a recent shot and one that I really identify with. Too bad it's one of those pictures that suffer from being displayed on a small monitor.

When I photographed this shot I knew that the mountains and the trees where going to be used in a surreal way but I had no idea what the outcome would be. The editing and composition in this shot is special. So many different elements were combined. The sky was added. The fog at the bottom is also a texture made from the sky. Tree and birds were added, which were taken well before the rest at another place. The two buildings are famous structures of Lisboa, Portugal. I thought they would add to the dramatic and majestic feeling of the isolated place in the fog.

The person on the bridge initially was not even a part of the picture, I considered it in the very end. The purpose was to make the image more tangible and emotional. I used my X-T1 and the Fujinon XF23 for almost all parts of the picture. Wide-angle lenses are perfect for capturing parts for compositions. You get everything into the frame, even tall buildings. Everything except the birds was taken during the daytime.

10. Please share some thoughts on your ViewBug experience as a photographer!

I like the concept of ViewBug, which is very unique. I would like to dig deeper into the platform, as in the past I have mostly just been a passive member. That's my intention for the future, to be more active through commenting and interacting with other people on ViewBug.

Follow Soulkey to see more of his photos!