Siegart von Schlichting Interview
Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born in Germany and grew up in South Africa and Namibia. I had a good time there. There were wonderful fruits and the life was full of colors and always warm. When we returned to Germany, it was winter. The first snow. What a miracle.
In my professional life, I have a lot to do with numbers, with paper, sales figures and excel charts, so photography is quite a different world for me. I am very happy that I have the opportunity to work in both worlds.
When did you first begin to make art?
When I was 16, I had a period where I photographed a lot and tried everything with photography. Two years later, I completed a course in art, but ultimately, I felt not gifted enough and I was convinced, that I would never become a great artist. But all the while art has always interested me, and was kind of a secret love.
When did you first start using Photoshop and how did you learn?
I love to take pictures. I started with flowers and more flowers. Beautiful flowers, magical grace, beautiful colors and shapes. For a long time it my main source of inspiration was to create compositions of light and shadow, sharpness and blur.
Until I discovered people and above all: women.
At first it was my concern to express beauty, grace and passion. I’ve done a lot of portraits and discovered Photoshop about 4 years ago. A wonderfully new great world of possibilities of image design opened up for me. To this day, I love to photograph people and make beautiful portraits and pictures. The possibility to play with backgrounds and textures. Various additional elements in a photo. To create new worlds around my photos. To learn how much is good for the photo. What gives the photo something new. What does it lift? And what is too much.
The combination of photography and Photoshop with all its possibilities gives me the opportunity to express myself artistically.
What inspires you?
I love life and the world with all shapes and colors.
But I am also directly inspired by other artists. From great photographers or pictures that I meet around the web and world. For example, via Pinterest, Facebook or 500px.
Or I visit workshops of photographers who impress me or have their own handwriting. To see and experience how they deal with light, how much effort they spend on a photo, so it becomes unique. Attending and witnessing this process inspires me a lot.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
I love the photographic work of Peter Lindberg, Emily Soto and Annie Leibovitz and I admire the creative work of Brooke Shaden, Jessica Lark, Alexia Sinclair and Billa Bozem.
And I also love the work of Cezanne.
What is your typical process when creating a piece of art?
My typical process starts with a Photo shoot. When I’m working with a model, I try to connect with her, to take a picture that combines aesthetics and expression.
In the days after, I look at the photos, searching for one that truly inspires me. Sometimes it takes longer, sometimes it goes quite fast to find the “right one”.
Then I start with a careful skin treatment. This gives me the possibility of a slow approach, of getting to know the heart of the picture. After that I look for a background, a texture, or sometimes even 10 overlaying textures, depending on the creative idea or process. I’m looking for Flaires, Patterns, Overlays and Bokehs. I have a huge library of it. This can really take hours. When everything is done, I give the whole picture a color look, that fits, so all the parts harmoniously join in one arrangement.
Where do you get your source materials from?
My source material is primarily my photos.
And then I collected textures and backgrounds from different sources: a lot of material I have collected from the Awake course by Sebastian Michaels. I have also found a lot of material in Deviant Art. Other textures are by Teddy Rutschmann and Jessica Drossin. Besides, I have some of RAW EXchange.
What is your favorite Photoshop trick/method at the moment?
I love to give the picture more contrast with unsharp mask with a small Amount of 28% and a Radius of 3670 pixels and no threshold.
I have a nice action for skin softening.
But basically I just love Photoshop with all its possibilities. Using it is like playing for me.
What is your favorite Photoshop tool or plugin at the moment?
It is Alien Skin Exposure. It gives me the opportunity to create a wonderful color look. A beautiful bokeh to shape with some possibilities. It’s ultimately my tool for finishing the picture.
Because I am mainly a portrait photographer I often use the Retouching Panel of Conny Walström.
What work of your own are you most proud of?
I am almost always enthusiastic about my last picture. I feel like I am part of a constant learning process. Almost every day, I learn new techniques, new possibilities, which I immediately bring into my pictures. But there are pictures for which I received gold medals or awards. Of course, I am also very proud of them and love them.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve worked a lot in the studio over the past few years. At present, I am busy with outdoor photography and natural light. Light is a substantial important issue for me.
Furthermore, I am always looking for techniques and possibilities to design my pictures. To give them something extra.
What would you tell someone who is starting out making Photoshop art?
Practicing, practicing, practicing.
There are always phases in which nothing seems to work. No inspiration anywhere. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by that. Stay curious like a child and have fun!