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We visited Tatjana Bilger of Soothing Shade to talk to her about the FROM prints by Matthias Ziegler she got. We wanted to know what it's like to work with a renowned reportage photographer like Matthias Ziegler, commercially. And how she sees the future of commercial photography.

Tatjana, you chose the motif "Khartoum 3" as a large fine art print right away, but it's not even hanging yet... haha.

Yes, I like the motif! It's mysterious and subtle, and although the look is so velvety-matt, like the other motifs in the series, this one is somehow lively. There are people moving around, a newsstand glistens in the sun and a petrol station looms in the background.

I also like the woman on the phone. She’s on the wall here in the office, as a smaller print. I like being close to her. (laughs) She and I: two women on the phone, organising, planning, discussing.

There are always different pieces on the wall in your kitchen: these days, the poster "Khartoum 6" is up.

I like the variety. Every six month or so, I put up something completely new here. The space then changes completely. Now, Matthias' motif is hanging here as a giant poster print and opens up a whole new perspective. I like the bold colours and the many details in which I keep discovering something new. And of course the blurr that runs across the electricity pole. It's irritating and pleasant at the same time.

How come a documentary photographer like Matthias Ziegler is represented on the roster of your agency Soothing Shade?

From the very beginning, it was important to me to work with photographers who have a distinct, authentic signature, as well as being commercially viable. I got to know Matthias through a mutual friend, shortly after founding Soothing Shade. Immediately I was impressed by him and his pictures. He masters the balancing act between art and commerce. He finds real stories, which he is able to realise incredibly quickly in his photos, thanks to his many years of professionalism.

Matthias finds something special in every seemingly ordinary situation. He has a sensitive feel for people and gets them to open up and reveal themselves to him — be it the Dalai Lama or the board of Deutsche Bank.

Is Matthias Ziegler the typical Soothing Shade photographer?

Soothing Shade stands for subtle aesthetics and authentic photography. All of my photographers and illustrators have a unique style. They all work editorially as well as in advertising and produce their own projects.

Matthias fulfils these criteria 100%. So I can answer your question with a Yes.

And what does Soothing Shade stand for?

As an agent, it's important for me to be in personal contact with my artists. A relationship of trust is essential for such close collaboration.

The agency Soothing Shade stands for authentic photography and contemporary illustrations that tell meaningful and atmospheric stories in their imagery. Together, my artists and I respond individually to every challenge and every wish of our clients. I believe that this is one of the reasons why the very high quality of the photographic and illustrative work unfolds.

In what ways has commercial photography changed over the past 20 years?

When I started as an art buyer in advertising over 20 years ago, we mainly produced print campaigns. These were conceptualised in a generous time frame and then produced with a sufficient budget. However, due to changes in the media, this classic print advertising is becoming less and less common these days.

Today, we produce for a variety of digital media that work very differently and require other content. Portraits for employee campaigns and film shoots with moving image material have become very important.

What do you think about the visual impact of AI? I assume you are critical of it — given that your company stands for authentic photography.

On a personal level, I'm rather concerned about the advance of artificial intelligence in society and politics. Generally speaking, rules and laws need to be created very quickly. But also, our creative industry is facing new challenges as a result.

Due to the novelty, there is a lot of interest in AI images, at the moment. But I have also noticed a kind of counter-movement over the last few months: at Soothing Shade we get requests for analogue images and "real" photos instead. That’s why I believe that my photographers are not in direct competition with AI — but things definitely remain exciting.

I’m convinced that customers who have a good sense of aesthetics and need approachable images will continue to realise their shoots with cameras and photography.

Thank you so much for your time and open words, dear Tatjana!