The Peak defines the finer things in life and has become an essential guide for the people who are on top of their game to keep abreast of the latest developments in corporate, professional, social and cultural spheres. Windee & his works have been featured in numerous publications, but this is the first time for a non wedding related magazine.
Interview was conducted by Geraldine Tan of Peak Magazine. Read the original interview below.
When did you start Photofactory? What was the experience like, starting a business from scratch?
The name PhotoFactory (actually it was “The Photo Factory” at the beginning) appeared when my wife Diana & I -our baby on my chest on a baby bjorn- were taking a walk along the meadow behind our house in Southern Germany, and talking about going back to Indonesia.
The following year, in 2005, we setup the company. With me having always been an employee so far, and both of us having neither business education nor experience, it was like jumping in water that we don’t know whether it’s cold or hot.
You were not formally trained in photography – why did you decide to go into photography? Was it always a passion of yours?
I studied Automotive Engineering at The Technical University of Berlin and worked afterwards in the field of passenger car passive safety at the Mercedes-Benz R&D Headquarter, therefore going into photography business was quite a change. On the other hand, photography is my passion since 1996.
There was a long period of time that I showed up at the University only for work (and not study), as I was half day employed at the department where I studied – and spent the rest of the day, and sometimes night, studying photography books, taking pictures or developing them in the darkroom that I setup in my apartment bath room.
Did you start out just as a one-man-show? How has the business grown since then?
Well, it was a two-man-show… Diana took care of the sales & marketing side. Because we had only small job numbers in the beginning, we hired some freelancers to help us. Sometimes I even assembled the albums myself.
Currently we have a small team of sixteen – yes, only sixteen. Many people find it hard to believe – highly skilled staff to ensure we can handle the masses of jobs that we intend to always deliver in high quality.
Over the years we’ve developed to be a wedding & pre wedding photography specialist, although occasionally some hotels we work with hire us for other major occasions or advertising projects as well.
Newly we take on overseas wedding & pre wedding assignments, as we figured out that now we can at times leave the company in the good hands o our staff.
What is the philosophy behind your photography?
It’s stated on our company’s tag line: Spontaneous, intimate and graceful. For me excellent pictures are not only good compositions combined with good light, but furthermore it should make the viewer feel (and especially the wedding couple relive) what’s going on in the picture. I like taking pictures spontaneously, being unobtrusive but close to my subjects, and showing them in a graceful way.
In your opinion, what is your greatest achievement or accomplishment as a photographer??
Having many satisfied clients that became my friends. Having clients wrote me 2 or 4 years after their weddings, telling me they are still looking at their photo albums that bring back their memories.
I like to think that my pictures contribute to a happy marriage. If you have wedding pictures that you so love that at times you still look at them, and they make you relive again your feelings for your spouse that day, I think it does affect your relationship to your spouse.
You have many competitors and copycats in the same market – What do you do to differentiate your business from theirs? Has the number of photography businesses in Bali and Indonesia increased or decreased over the years?
Actually, after a while we stopped caring so much of what they are doing and focus ourselves only on enjoying what we do and satisfy our habit to improve just about every aspect of it. We believe the side effect is that we stay on the upper surface of the business.
The number of photography businesses in Bali and Indonesia increased significantly over the years, following the growing appreciation of photography and having digital allowing for an easier entry. But of course being able to enter the business and getting on top of the business are two very different things.
What challenges have you faced in starting, owning and running your own business, and how have you overcome them?
We had quite a good start, but just 3 months later there was the 2nd Bali bombings that left us with almost no clients for half a year. We used the time to get better in every bit and a couple of months later we were suddenly flooded with assignments, a situation that stays on until today.
Another challenge is achieving our consciously high set goals. For example, we want to deliver our clients their high quality wedding albums in two days, that they would receive anywhere else in 6 month to one year.
I’m a process optimization freak, so we developed an extremely lean process and achieved that goal.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
Being an entrepreneur means being able to set my own vision, and share it with the team that I handpicked.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Feeling the satisfaction of pressing the camera shutter button when all the elements that contribute to good pictures align.
What are your future plans? Ultimately, what is your vision for the brand?
Hugging the whole world. At this point we have representatives in Australia and Hongkong, and as more and more countries are in our ‘Next’ list, we want to feel the whole world as our home.
Through Photofactory, what do you hope to contribute to the Indonesian lifestyle, as well as the photography sector?
By being who we truly are – we approach our clients as friends, and see our assignments as a work of passion that we carry on together with them-, by placing ideals first and believing financials will automatically follow, and by accentuating photography as an art form, we hope to add some fresh colors to the Indonesian lifestyle and especially the wedding photography sector.