There are some photographers who can get by on name alone. And while a big-name celebrity photographer doesn’t always take the best photographs—much as a big-name celebrity isn’t always the best actor—that may or may not matter in the short run. Ultimately, though, talent is what endures and commands consistent work, whether it’s that of a top-notch actor or a high-end photographer, such as Uli Weber.
Search Weber’s website and you won’t find much about how he made his name as a photographer of fashion, celebrity portraiture, advertising and travel—no biographical info, client list, or picture of himself. While that’s partly by design—Weber wants to put as much emphasis on the images as possible—it’s also an offshoot of his humble personality.
“I find it very difficult to talk about myself,” he says. Fortunately, his images speak for him.
What’s in a Name?
Though widely recognized in fashion and celebrity photography circles, his name hasn’t become an overexposed brand. “It’s not a unique selling point, it’s just a name,” he says. “While some people might have bigger names, I like to think I produce beautiful work and that’s what I’m known for.”
What you’ll see on this Hasselblad shooter’s site—along with his images—is an extensive list of contacts for his agents in London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Milan, and Munich. These contacts, whom Weber refers to as his “apparatus,” help him win assignments from clients such as Esprit, Marks & Spencer, Swatch, Lardini, and Nordstrom, and magazines including Vogue, Men’s Vogue, and Condé Nast Traveler.
Because this international “apparatus,“ including Bernstein & Andriulli in New York, which helps Weber with all his U.S. assignments, is constantly in overdrive, he is free to concentrate on his passion: taking pictures.
“I’ve found that business now approaches me. It’s a little like being a taxi driver. You work, you get paid. How much you make depends on the rates,” he says, matter-of-factly. “But what matters most is the quality of the work, which is what gets you working for the right magazines. Suddenly you’re on a roll and some client likes your work in one trendy magazine and it carries over to working with them, as well.”
For Weber, who grew up in Germany and attended college in Rome, his big break came after moving to London, where he assisted for several years. In the early 1990s, his work appeared in Arena, a British fashion and entertainment magazine for men, which gave him his first international exposure.
“It was just pure love of photography,” he says, of what motivated him. “I love fashion, I love being around people, and I love the good life.”
The Right Assignments
Weber is typically low-key about his shoots, which frequently take him to exotic locales around the world. A recent assignment to shoot a new Esprit campaign involved two days in the studio in London, then several days on location in the Scottish Highlands.
For the studio portion of the assignment, the clothes were casual and aimed at young people, including combat pants, shirts, jeans, and simple jackets. The shoot in Scotland was entirely different, however, including a day and a half in Edinburgh, and a day and half in the highlands, where Weber would be photographing Esprit’s more upscale Collection line.
“They were looking for an historic feel mixed in with some beautiful countryside to showcase their more expensive, finer line of tailored clothing,” he says. “They wanted a bit more heritage, more history and different casting for the shots in Edinburgh. In the country, they were looking for beautiful highlands in the background, lots of greens, not like a postcard.”
As is often the case in the Scottish highlands, the weather failed to cooperate with us.
“It was terribly rainy, but that’s part of the job,” Weber says. ”The good part is, suddenly you have this completely different flavor you weren’t expecting. The elements were all there to create a very moody shoot, with rain and wind and the models’ hair blowing in their faces.”