We loved having Baptiste Rutko takeover our Instagram feed–his thoughtful commentary and approaches inspires not only creativity, but cultivating a strategic practice when it comes to photography. Baptiste is based in France, and his work warmly embraces minimalism along with the individuality of each scene and subject. Read on to hear more about his perspectives on photography, and get a glimpse at his style.
Photographer Baptiste Rutko
www.rutkography.com | Instagram: @rutkography
Hi! My name is Baptiste and you can find most of my work under the handle @rutkography. I’m based in Paris, and if someone were to ask me about my favorite environment to shoot in, I’d have to say, just give me some concrete, texture and details in an urban setting and we are good to go!
While I must admit that I still always dread the first few minutes of a new shoot, I suppose it’s the right kind of stress that really makes you feel more committed to achieving amazing results and strong imagery.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide range of restaurants and venues serving food, and it is always interesting (and, for me, important!) to get to know the place, the people and their philosophy before even turning on the camera.
No doubt that one of the goals is to create appetizing visuals, but it’s also a big reward when the customers find their own approach in the picture that you just crafted.
Take for example @PaloAltoginfood, with their warm Mediterranean ambiance and eats–a place where the outcome of my work really needs to convey their culture and concepts. For them, spending time with friends around a carefully prepared gin & tonic is just as important as appreciating their carefully ingredients from small Spanish and Italian producers, and that is something I sought to represent in the imagery I photographed for them.
At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve enjoyed capturing the idea how geometry can rule every aspect of a business. For example, @WerHaus.official focuses on a precise and distinct approach to the catering world–clean and minimalist interior design, fresh, healthy food, and probably one of the best baristas in town, serving one-of-a-kind specialty coffee.
Trends in photography have, in many ways, always influenced and shaped my vision. But, if I had to qualify the way I now see the scenes I want to capture, it would mostly be minimalist in nature–keeping it simple in composition, and integrating the aesthetics of ‘Wabi-sabi’.
From my earliest years with a DSLR, I’ve always been drawn to modern architecture, and more particularly, their details– whether it’s a specific feature, a defect or an alteration. While I think that in general photographers tend to represent a building or a structure as a whole, I personally like to reduce it to a sum of pieces–a play on texture, shapes and colors.
When working on personal projects, I tend to steer away from the standard concept of reducing a picture to a scene. I prefer to focus on a particular detail that isn’t appealing at first sight, or something that you’d want to conceal. Instead, I think these traits are what make it unique.
While most photography provides a lot of context to a scene, I like removing some elements, allowing the audience to find their own story. And, to be honest, I like to keep my pictures quite empty of people and passers-by. : )
‘Get closer’ is another piece of advice that has been helpful in framing a shot. In most scenes, it puts the focus on the thing that drew your attention in the first place, resulting in a clearer background.
I have found that it is almost a philosophy that evolves with you as a grow as a photographer. I have in the previous days used words such as ‘curate’ and ‘crafting a picture’ since my approach could be quite time consuming at times, but it is what gives me the most satisfaction in the result and in the process of taking the picture.
To sum up in a few words, my gear-bag changed along with my style of capturing my subject: from DSLR, to all ranges of Zoom lenses, and going to Full Frame, to now working with a Mirrorless and a few prime lenses.
There are a bunch of good exercises out there that can put to your technique to the test, but even if you don’t manage to get a fully satisfying result out of these, you will probably manage to narrow your style and approach, and probably find your most suitable or ‘go to gear’.
Restrictions: Use only analogue or one prime lens for a set of time – my personal has been switching to the 3-of-a-kind series via Instagram, try a different genre of photography, make 10 unique photographs from where you are standing, etc.
After I had already registered my company, started to take paying jobs and meeting my clients’ needs, it still took me several months to say with confidence that I was a Professional Photographer. It’s a very flattering feeling to being able to making a living out of what had been a hobby for years – and maybe it was that adaptation period from dream to reality, in a good way of course : )
Years before taking the first paying gig I had a couple of “Why don’t you try and make money out of your photography”, and my answer was that I wouldn’t even consider it. The whole frontier between doing it for the fun and turning a result was a line not to cross. The mere fact of the pressure of meeting the expectations, quantitative AND qualitative.. Heresy !
Yet here I am today, so grateful to be addressing you! I have to say that it is a process that took months if not years to take place. I obviously do not have the same approach when switching the camera ON for a job or taking it out of my travel bag while in holidays, and somehow the sensation of not having to turn in any shot during my leisure time feels kind of relief and allows me to take a different road without worrying if I don’t even take a single shot. And in my opinion, that’s probably where lies the importance keeping it the hobby side of taking picture.