Having studied Graphic Design & Interactive media design at the CFPAA in Geneva, Samuel’s passion for photography became an area where he could find beauty in even the coldest environments. Samuel Zeller is a young and talented self taught photographer, visual designer and 3D artist based in Geneva, Switzerland. Before moving into photography Samuel worked in various design agencies creating retail spaces, editorial design and 3D visualisations for international brands. Samuel Zeller uses photography as a means of expressing emotion, a less constrained language of communication.
1. Do you see yourself as a Figure of Photography ?
Samuel Zeller : No, not at all. I’m still learning a lot every day, I’ve got a long road ahead. And I think I wouldn’t want to be a “figure” because I don’t like this word, I prefer to say that I can inspire a few people, but I want to stay humble. Recently Fujifilm contacted me to become one of their ambassadors (so called Fujifilm X-photographers) for Switzerland. I’m really happy to be able to represent this brand!
Photography for me is a personal expression, but there’s nothing to brag about. Everyone can take a camera and practice and become a good photographer because everyone has something to say.
2. How would you describe your style ?
Samuel Zeller : Clean? I have a thing for clear images, uncluttered with one or two subjects. Maybe it’s because of my graphic design background but I always liked simplicity. I think we have enough noise in our modern society.
I always think in two dimensions, even when I draw I almost never use perspective. Of course, some of my images have perspective and depth but when I look through the viewfinder I consider all elements to be on the same plane.
3. Who were the first photographers that inspired you ?
Samuel Zeller : My mom had this Werner Bischof monograph with a picture of a young boy playing Pan flute. I always liked his work, I think it’s the first photography book I saw. Then I discovered other photographers like Sebastiao Salgado. Another one that inspire me a lot lately is Greg White (I love his industrial images).
4. Tell us about your experience
Samuel Zeller : Early in my life I knew that I wanted to do a creative job, I wasn’t really dreaming about being a firefighter or an astronaut. I wanted to become an architect, a biologist or a designer.
After high school I began art school (CFPAA in Geneva) were I studied graphic design first and then interactive media design (basically web design, video, sound and new medias). I’ve never been really fond of the education system since I’m mostly a self-learner type, I like to experiment. So instead of being at school all days I found another solution, I worked half the week in a company and spent the remaining days in class. This way I was able to pick the courses I wanted.
I started working in 2007 and I’ve been in different jobs, first in a photo studio, then I moved to video and then to 3D modeling/rendering. I landed a nice job in a design agency were I worked for two years. In 2015 I mainly worked as a designer for one luxury brand, doing all their visuals and photography
5. What inspires you ?
Samuel Zeller : Arts, particularly sculpture and installation design. Pieces that play with space, light and shapes. I’m a fan of Olafur Eliasson works. I’m also attracted by illustration and paintings, my favourite artist of all time is Klimt. Museums are always on my schedule when I travel in other cities, they are places filled with beauty and their architecture is often wonderful to photograph.
6. Do you think that photography is fulfilling the functions of Painting ?
Samuel Zeller : No, I don’t think so. For me, drawing and painting can put you in a different state of mind, just like reading a good book. I sometimes reach this state when I’m retouching my images, but the act of taking pictures is way different.
7. What is your favourite location to photograph ?
Samuel Zeller : Until I discover a better one, I would say Berlin. This whole city is vibrant, with life and architecture. I could walk in the streets of Berlin all days and take pictures without getting bored. Second is probably London and then pretty much any mountain in Switzerland.
8. How do you educate yourself to take better photos ?
Samuel Zeller : Step by step, just like playing music or drawing. Photography takes time and the more you spend and involve yourself in the more you learn. To take better photos there’s not a secret recipe, you need to be really critical about your own work. Only show the best ones, resist to the temptation to post everything on the internet.
9. What kind of equipment do you use in terms of cameras and lighting ?
Samuel Zeller : I currently use a Fujifilm X-T1 with an XF35mm lens. I also have an XF18mm, a vintage Helios 44-2 and a 135mm (vintage) but I mostly use the 35mm. I don’t use any additional lighting for my personal photography.
10. What about the future ?
Samuel Zeller : I’ve got my first solo exhibition planned 19-28 May 2016 at the “Next door gallery” in Geneva, I’m thrilled! I also have a few photographic projects going on that I hope to unveil early 2016. If you’re in Switzerland and interested to work with me I’m always open for collaborations. Feel free to get in touch!
More about Samuel Zeller : www.samuelzeller.ch/