NEWS: Series Interview – Mert Studio

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We are pleased and honored to announce that MERT STUDIO, Mert Dürümoglu and Roman Schönmann, are joining the TM/AR roster. Mert and Roman are a team – a photographer and production manager, based in Berlin. They first collaborated in 2001 – Mert already established with his creative career in photography and Roman with his background as studio manager and producer; organizing, budgeting and producing for top-notch clients around the globe.
Mert’s “shooting strategy” is cinematic, trendy, hip, vivid, emotional, versatile, and confident. Roman’s part is to communicate, estimate, and help fulfill the needs of the clients, creatives and Mert – all while keeping an eye on schedule and budget. When the job and conditions allow for it, Mert Studio likes to collaborate fully from developing the creative concept through final delivery.

Read on to learn more about this dynamic team.

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How many years have you been in the business?
ROMAN: Since 1997
MERT: I started in 1998, it’s now my 21st year.
Are you self-taught or university/college/photography school taught?
MERT: In Germany, there is a training called “ausbildung”. This takes you 3 years, one day in school and the rest of the week working with a photographer, in his studio.
When did you take your first photograph?.
MERT: That was with the Minolta belonging to my father, I was a kid…maybe 9 years old. When we went to the holidays at the beach, we always passed historic places. I grabbed my dad’s camera and started photographing – basically stones within its architecture.
Why did you choose your craft, what led you to it?
ROMAN: My dad was running a 1hr photo lab back in the 90s. I was helping him out developing films, printing pictures and assisting on wedding, kids, and animal shoots. It was a pretty fun time, when, believe it or not, I learned a lot about photography from ambitious amateur photographers, discussing techniques, the right composition, colors and the work of professional photographers such as Andres Gursky, Thomas Struth and Thomas Ruff, who were the heroes of that time. I was 16 yrs of age and it was very clear that I want to become part of this world.
MERT: I basically wanted to study directing and cinematography. For this I needed the aforementioned training. After getting my degree as a photographer, I started working freelance and fortunately, jobs came in mostly fashion. seeya_02_03

What professional goals do you still have for yourself?
ROMAN: Establish Mert Studio worldwide as a strong brand in automotive photography.
MERT: In 2018 I started directing, my old wish dream is becoming true.

What is your greatest professional achievement?
ROMAN: Becoming the managing director of Austria’s renowned photoproduction and photorep. During this time, I produced many great campaigns, for example, the GUCCI campaign with Mert&Marcus in Vienna. The executive production company was Lalaland production.
MERT: For me, always my last job is “my greatest professional achievement”. All my professional experience influences the current job.

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Who do you admire from your profession, past or present, and why?
MERT: super selected…;-) From the past: Guy Bourdin, I love his connection between personal and professional work, despair and courage. From the present: Thomas Ruff, extraordinary mindset and variety, every work is an instant classic.

Who is/was your greatest mentor?
ROMAN: I believe it´s Achim Lippoth, one of the leading kids photographers of the world, director and publisher of the Kids Wear magazine, with whom I worked for more than 6 years very close as a studio manager and producer. He is not only a commercial photographer but also a photo art collector, who taught me a lot about the wide world of photography.

MERT: I assisted a fashion photographer and we had a great time together producing big jobs around the globe, being at home only 6 weeks a year, learning how to handle big budgets.

If life were “as good as it gets” – what’s there? If your career were “as good as it gets” – what’s there?
MERT: Driving through a city and seeing only my vision/ my content…:-)

What’s missing from your career that you could add to make it complete?
ROMAN: To achieve our goals with Mert Studio would make my career complete.
MERT: 2019 is the year of “moving images”, pushing my directing/ dop cinematography work.

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What part of your work do you find most demanding?
ROMAN: I think my job as a producer is all around very demanding and challenging. From the first briefing and storyboard on, it’s a journey with many highs and lows, whereas a producer I try to keep the amplitude as flat as possible.

MERT: Getting the “perfect mix” of talent, location, weather, mood, food…..this makes a production.

What is your creative philosophy?
MERT: Always put the maximum effort in preparation, then the rest will flow.

Can you tell us about your state of mind when you are shooting/creating?
MERT: I am super concentrated, overviewing the whole process, but essentially there is always place room for a laugh.
Could you describe how you create your imagery/art? What do you look for?
MERT: I always try to create something new, unseen. mostly satisfying is creating a piece of art, people love to cover hang on their walls with.

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How do you work best – in teams, with assistants, solo, on location, in studio, etc.?
ROMAN: Mert Studio wouldn´t exist without all the great people in on our team surrounding. A great team It is key to our work and we welcome collaboration team players.
MERT: Working with a supporting and focused team is the best way for me to create.

What is your work philosophy?
ROMAN: Get the best possible result, without leaving scorched earth behind.
MERT: The next project is always the most important one. All my experiences will flow in.

What is the ideal relationship for you with your clients?
ROMAN: Having time for the prep would be ideal, but is becoming very rare ;).

MERT: I like clients on set, their input, challenges, and expertise are key for a great result.

What adjectives describe who you are now, at your core? What adjectives describe who you want to be in the future?
MERT: Now- focused, creative, on-point, hardcore… 😉 Future- same as now

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How did you achieve your vision?
MERT: Behind this there is always hard work, work, work. and of course, some luck.
Once, by chance, I met the European marketing director Europe of Carhartt at a hip-hop concert. He lost his backstage pass and the bouncers wouldn’t let him in. I told them that he was part of my crew and the problem was solved. Later, he gave me his business card. From there it led to a worldwide campaign.

What are you looking for thru the viewfinder? What thoughts go thru your mind?
MERT: What could be a better position, a better angle, better light…? maybe this…yes…got it !

What are some obstacles you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
ROMAN: Timing is the biggest obstacle, when you have to make things possible, that you think are impossible. To overcome them one must stay sharp and focused.

What is the toughest feedback you’ve ever received and how did you handle it?
ROMAN: The toughest feedback is no feedback.

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What are your long-term goals?
ROMAN: Becoming a renowned duo in the field of automotive, fashion and lifestyle. With a unique look in our images.

MERT: My long-term goal is to be sought after, even more, and be a happy dad with my daughter.

What’s your advice on handling rejection?
ROMAN: Analyze and learn from rejection.
MERT: You need to work on yourself every day to become better. Keeping that in mind, the rejection becomes less important.

How would you describe your brand?
ROMAN: We are team players, with a high demand on our output.

MERT: Mert Studio was in a constant state of transformation over the years. As a photographer “schooled” and educated with on-set experience from mentors in fashion, people, lifestyle, still-life and cars – the question wasn’t “how to” but rather “what do I want to create”. The technical was there, the only limitation was always to create imagery that was unique. My main focus now is on Lifestyle / Fashion combined with cars – as a photographer and director.

What’s your advice for artists just starting out?
MERT: Work hard, keep pushing!

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How do you market yourself?
ROMAN: We do it the German way 🙂 precise, but with a pinch of Mert´s Turkish flavor.

MERT: Personal appointments at agencies with portfolio; website, own and agents’; and social media, Instagram and LinkedIn

What inspires you?
ROMAN: Mert inspires me, there is nothing better than having a dinner together and plan projects until the morning.

MERT: In these times, surrounded by zillions of pictures, occasionally a picture really touches me, those images I purchase and frame, that happens infrequently.

What are some of your influences?
ROMAN: I think the house and techno scene in Cologne and London was the biggest influence when I was young. Free, creative people living a different life, then I saw at home.
MERT: Mostly it’s art or artistic views, also architecture inspires me – color, space.

Who are some of your influences?
MERT: – Guy Bourdin, Thomas Ruff, Luis Sanchis, Bauhaus, David Chipperfield, Zaha Hadid

Where do you seek inspiration?
ROMAN: Architecture, design in general, fashion, music and nature.

MERT: I must admit, it’s mostly the internet, but the best option is always the real world, exhibitions, shows, installations, architecture, traveling, sun, wind, friends…

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What are you passionate about, gets your blood pumping, or gives you joy?
ROMAN: Ice hockey and soccer for sure, especially when Germany is playing, in addition, everything connected to my job. Might be a great campaign I saw, a music video, an ad in the magazine, the thrill when you get signed on a job, etc.

MERT: I love Christmas because no one calls…total freedom.

How do you approach your downtime?
MERT: Even if there’s downtime, there’s always something to do. If you speak of holidays, I love to chill at the beach with my daughter and family.