Hear It!

An Interview with Yuri Arcurs

Hear It! returns with Yuri Arcurs (logos), who shares with us the amount and level of detailed professionalism, planning and execution that he and his team goes through before his images grace the databases of 123RF.com. For him it's a personal quest toward perfection.

Our reviewers at 123RF have always looked forward to accepting his stunningly captivating portfolio that is filled with sharp corporate imagery with some of the best looking models around the industry.

Photographer: Yuri Arcurs
Country of Origin: Denmark

1. Production Equipment:Fashion shot of beautiful woman in a Hawaiian lei on the beach in Hawaii
Two Canon 1Ds (Normally one with a prime and one with a zoom)
One Canon 5D (for my assistants to play around with)

2. What do you think of photography these days?
I love the fact that microstock is pushing competition to new levels. I love that traditional stock is getting their ass kicked by microstock!!

Fashion shot of a beautiful, professional model with pink flowers. 3. What did you want to be when you were younger?
A movie director.

4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
I started doing photography on a school trip in sixth grade. When digital photography became accessible it re-captured my interest in photography and I bought my first digital camera - an add-on device for my palm pilot which was actually one of the first digital cameras on the market.

Two beautiful models, dressed in winter fashion and enjoying a hot drink. 5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
You have to be very self-critical and probably also a work-alcoholic like myself. :)

6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
Getting pictures rejected was really irritating!

Photograph of a beautiful woman relaxing in the ocean in Hawaii 7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
Being successful. I had no idea that it would be so rewarding to do well in microstock! Fan-mail is another new but interesting side-effect. I got some fan-mail yesterday that was pretty bizarre experience though.

8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
Wow. This takes a lot of time. Normally we start planning 2-3 weeks ahead. We call the model agencies that I work with and hire models. We make contact with the manger of the location we want to do the shoot at, and make sure that property release and things like that are taken care of before we get there (Editor: Now, that's REAL professionalism!). Then I arrange for a meeting with the make-up artist and the stylist, so they are given instructions on what kind of theme I am looking for. Normally the stylist will have about one to two weeks for finding suitable clothes and planning details with the models involved. The day before the shoot we clean all lenses and equipment, make final adjustments and pack everything up and ready for the next day's shooting session.

Young Businessman full of ideas looking out of window. 9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
Clear, light, easy to look at and very "stock" minded.

10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex check list in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/check list.
When I do fashion, I prepare very little and let the picture grow from the overall feeling and what is available at the location. When I do stock photography, I go through a checklist before each shoot and spend about 2-3 hours of planning prior to a shoot. My checklist is boring. :)

This is a session within the business concept. 11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?
Doing group shoots or shoots that requires a lot of the photographer. Giving instructions is sometimes fun. Seeing the picture sell, gives me the greatest satisfaction.

12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
CHILDREN!!!! Crying, sleepiness, snot, unease, unsteady etc.

Casino shoot with granted property release 13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
Do you best at all times and be a perfectionist in your approach. Always reach for higher ground. Here is my workflow
  • Shoot RAW at lowest sharpening setting. (Zero sharpening)
  • RAW selection. I spend a few hours over the follow days after a shoot looking true the RAWs and choosing which to develop. RAW selection is done by me only.
  • RAW files are developed in Phase One (Capture One Pro) as a 16 bit TIF files and with a sharpening setting of Zero.
  • First retouch: Spot cleaning and diffusion done as layers in Photoshop. This is done by my Photoshop soldiers as we call them.
  • Second retouch: Done by my senior editor Heidi Kristensen, she takes care of Photoshop editing that requires a high degree of after-editing and know-how.
  • Calibration: Following second editing all files go to the calibration folder. Here files are calibrated in white-balance, exposure, contrast..etc. This third editing is done by me, and files are not allowed to be sent for keywording before they have "hovered" in the calibration folder for at least a week. This is because a lot of smaller mistakes and re-touching needs time away from the screen to become visible.
  • Pictures are saved in Tiff-storage folder as a 16bit with layers and as a JPG in the keywording folder.
  • First narrating: (title, description and keywording) is done by my English assistant and files are put in needs keyword check folder.
  • Second narrating and keyword check is done by me. I add, take away or redo narrating according to microstock standards about keywording. Pictures are keyworded separately depending on which agency they are being uploaded to. Before looking at the narrating done by first narrator I write to a word documents the most essential "arch-keyword" for each picture. I then add these keywords to the file. I do this to avoid leaving out essential keywords, that first narrator might have forgotten.
  • Pictures are put in batches. When a batch reaches 50 pictures we close it and upload this to all agencies. (I submit to a total of 16 stock agencies, both microstock and high-priced stock and some not official yet)
  • My three uploads take care of categorizing, disambiguating and attaching model-releases to all pictures on all agencies. On some agencies the agency manually translates all narrating into German and Spanish.

Two friends studying together, enjoying a hot drink. 14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
Achieving perfection! A lot of photographers inspire me: Andreas R, Lisegagne, Urbancow, gremlin, Dewayne Flowers, EML, Liv friis-larsen, Mariusz Szachowski, dash and vgstudio!

15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you "get creative"?
Take a vacation - no kidding! I go somewhere somewhere and know that I am probably putting myself under a little too much stress

Pampered young woman with male hands doing a massage. 16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
When seeing my pictures being sold is gets me very motivated. Than I go out and plan way too many shoots. :)

17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
That a fair comparison between me and a Duracell rabbit can be made. I keep going, and going and going, but when I am in that mode (going and going) I'm not being creative and I'm not enhancing my personality or character. I need some time away to be good at photography.

High resolution image of a goldfish leaping out of the water. 18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
Vgstudio and Liv Friis-Larsen! Reminds me of myself, but often done better! I like people that can create great looking files and do so in a very high quality.

19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting in to stock photography?
Don't get yourself too arrogant from the success you get in microstock. Even though I am probably the number one selling microstock photographer in the world, I admire and feel very humble when I see what other and older stock-industries have to offer. Taking stock photographs is an old business, and there are experts out there that are just unbelievably capable. So before working up a false feeling of superiority or forum- evangelist self-conception, be first of all respectful and receptive to criticism.
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