Heiner Schäfer

From sheet film to 4k digital film

Photo: Connie Wille · moondance.design

Like others I came to making films through photography. My first camera was my grandfather’s 6×9 Agfa Standard. I got it, together with my first black and white darkroom, when I was 12 years old. They changed the way I looked at the world around me. The Agfa was complemented by a 35 mm SLR Pentax MX two years later and the first seeds were sown for my photo career.

Professional Training

Mysterious places: Culbone Stone in North Devon. It belongs to a series of black and white photos I took with my 4″x 5″ Linhof between 1994 and 1996.

After a detour of some years to the Technical University of Darmstadt, where I completed my pre-degree in physics, I came back to photography: I trained professionally with the photo designer Peter Hoenig. Peter taught me to use a Linhof 4″x5″ sheet film camera as well as the ins and outs of a professional colour photo lab.

Work experience in publishing

I started working as a press photographer with the independent newspaper “Zeitung für Darmstadt” in 1989. This was the time when desktop publishing began to replace phototypesetting, and the “Zeitung für Darmstadt” was produced using DTP from the outset. In addition to taking photos and doing lab work, I started designing adverts and laying out pages on a Mac.

From 1994 to 1995 I used my newly acquired DTP skills working for a publisher and a typesetting studio near Frankfurt.

Advertising design and publicity

photocomosition gnosa music akt in Großstadt
Fusing layers of images to create new dreamlike picture scenarios has fascinated me since the early days in my photo lab. Today the computer has replaced the lab, and its enhanced options mean that my pictures are now more detailed in their execution.

In 1995 I started my own graphic design business in Hamburg besides doing freelance work for “Rodenberg Werbeagentur”, a then well established Hamburg advertising agency. Rapid progress in prepress technology produced a new style of graphic design and typography and I felt I was in the vanguard of a newly perceived graphic language.

Moving pictures

In 2008 I began videography with three amateur hd camcorders. Meanwhile my workhorse is a Canon C300 Mark II that I can complement with other cameras when required. I use Final Cut Pro X for editing.

My first hands-on experience with video was back at school with a bulky black and white camera. Editing was only possible by recording each scene in exactly the right length and the right order. Very limiting indeed but the videos were minimalistic and very different from what I knew from TV.

In 1988 I saw the first HD-recording at Photokina. I loved the image quality but it took some 20 years before I could make use of the format.