“If need be, I help out with liver sausage”

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“If need be, I help out with liver sausage”

Gabi Stickler loves creative photography and her golden retriever Mali. The images that she mainly shoots with the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD often talk about small humorous everyday stories. 

Why and how did you become a photographer?

Gabi Stickler: I am not a professional photographer. About twelve years ago I bought a DSLR. A Sony Alpha 350 with an attached kit objective, the so-called yogurt pot. With this camera, I then snapped for a few weeks in sports mode and lost interest in it rather quickly. The camera then disappeared in the closet and was forgotten for starters. A little over two years ago, this camera ended up in my hands again when tidying up. Newly motivated by our dog, of which I wanted to take pretty photos, I started again to shoot in automatic mode. However, the pictures of my frolicking dog were always out of focus, so I soon started to inform myself in internet forums about terms such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO & Co. At first, it was a closed book, and I have googled a lot and I approached it slowly. Once I realised that I should shoot my dog in motion best with 1/1000 shutter speed or even shorter, it was also clear why this could not work in automatic mode, which had often chosen 1/500. This is how everything started.

What fascinates you about photography?

Gabi Stickler: I can indulge my creativity through photography. I like to tell a story with pictures. My project "Mali & his teddy" also resulted for this reason. Altogether, I took 55 photos which tell a story each on their own and altogether a long story. In photography, there is no need for words, and this project has been making waves worldwide. Articles about us appeared in many languages and we were printed in numerous magazines. Next year, Mali and his teddy will even be seen on school supplies and also as a calendar.

Do you have you got any favourite photos?

Gabi Stickler: I have not got any real favourite photos. My dog can be seen in 90 percent of my pictures, and he is my favourite. Thus they are ally favourite photos somehow.

What special value do you attach to your shots?

Gabi Stickler: In the last two and a half years, my demand regarding my images has increased enormously. I attach particular importance to the fact that the focus is on the eyes. The eyes are the mirror of the soul. This is not just a trite phrase. Sharp, bright eyes draw the viewer's attention immediately, they arouse emotions. And that is just what I want to achieve.

Where do you get the inspiration for images that are always new and fresh?

Gabi Stickler: In the meantime, I have a reputation to implement particularly creative and fun ideas. Everyday life is often the inspiration. If my dog Mali looks over the edge of the kitchen table during dinner, it rattles directly in my head. Then, the idea is developed to place a donut there and to also leave a cuddly toy dog looking over the edge. What I myself consider to be sweet and funny, was also well received by my Facebook followers. I also often have good ideas at night. For this reason, a small notebook is lying next to the bed. Otherwise, the idea vanishes again very quickly. However, there are times, and every photographer will probably know this, when there is simply no motivation to take photos. This should then also not be enforced and take a little break.

Do you have photographic role models?

Gabi Stickler: To be honest, no. Role models are certainly great for development and inspiration. However, I fear that I would be oriented too much towards a role model and thus might lose my individuality. I want to stand out from the crowd and for this I am trying to find my own style and implement my own ideas. I enjoy very much looking at images of other photographers, but I deliberately try to do my own thing.

How important is technology to you? What does technology have to achieve?

Gabi Stickler: From March 2014 to June 2015 I took photos with the old Sony Alpha 350. My pictures were very well received in photography forums, in photography groups on Facebook and on View.Stern, so that I initially saw no reason to buy an up-to-date camera and a high-quality objective. Over time, my desire for a better camera and a bright objective did become stronger, as I could not produce any high-quality images in dark surroundings with my previous equipment. Motion shots were unsuccessful. And so I had to realise that the time was ripe for a new camera and a better objective. My equipment is also used very heavily. I often take pictures in wet and humid conditions. The camera and the objective are then also touched with dirty fingers. This should not pose a problem.

With which equipment do you work? Why did you choose it?

Gabi Stickler: I currently work with the Sony Alpha 77 II and the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD. The camera is great and gives me everything I need. Also, I use my Sony 50mm F/2.8 Macro for macro shooting. But the main work is done by the standard zoom objective from Tamron.

ISO 100 or 3200? How do you choose and why?

Gabi Stickler: I like to call my pictures "planned snapshots". Planned because I choose the place and time very accurately and therefore also the lighting conditions. Snapshots, because you never know with animals if they have the desire to participate in the nonsense I have thought about. If need be, I help out with liver sausage. With these planned snapshots, I would always opt for ISO 100. I would personally go up to maximally ISO 800 for such an image. With shootings that can possibly not be repeated, I would go even higher with the ISO. Whereby ISO 3200 is already very borderline with my camera and I largely avoid photographs with high ISO noise, as I do not like it.

Where would you like to take photos?

Gabi Stickler: My dream is to photograph in Scotland. I am a nature lover and I love the Scottish landscape and its breadth. Preferably of course together with my dog. A flock of sheep in the Scottish hills and my dog, well camouflaged in between. That would be my dream!

Which impressions did you get from Tamron objectives?

Gabi Stickler: The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD has been created with me in mind. I really love it! Since the beginning of the year I can call it my own and I did not miss a different focal length since then. It is ideal for my type of images. The 24mm allow me to stay close to the dogs. I can hold the objective together with the camera with one hand, so that I can reward the dogs with treats and animate them to look at the camera. I like being close to the motif and that is also still very possible with 70mm. With the open aperture of F/2.8 it is also bright enough that I can also make beautiful pictures indoors with the available light.

How long do you have to deal with a dog until it participates as cooperatively as Mali?

Gabi Stickler: I do not train with Mali in the classical sense. We have tried out during our walks what he is capable of. Anyway, he cannot do much. He can sit and look and lie on his side. But Mali is simply a lazy soul and uses the time to rest. He can also turn onto his back and stay there. What's he doing really great, is "Lay down your head ". And together with the command "stay", I can also put things on his nose. The nuts and bolts in my opinion is the reward for the dog. Mali’s dog pals, who I often take along during the week, have learnt extremely quickly what I want from them. The liver sausage has certainly helped out lot.

Do you have a specific quote that speaks from the heart?

Gabi Stickler: I very much like the quote from James Wayne, who said: "Photography allows us to not only to capture memories, but to also create some." That just fits my style of photography. The situations that I capture are real. To this end, I have a big claim to reality and therein also lies the challenge, if I simply want to show "something else". The colour and the smaller details in my images do not have such a great importance for me with respect to reality. It is thus possible that I place a couple of clouds into a previously boring sky or even digitally implant my beloved daisy.

About the author: Gabi Stickler

Gabi Stickler, born 1980, only started photography seriously two and a half years ago. What she has achieved in this period – together with her favourite motif, the golden retriever Mali – as creative images, is exceptional. The wall calendar with the motif series "Mali & Teddy" as well as the seventh place in the renowned photo contest "Aperture" in 2015 provide information about her talent. Gabi Stickler lives in Alzenau, between Aschaffenburg and Frankfurt / Main.

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