Photography News Issue 49

Photography News | Issue 49 |

15 Interview

Anders Hedebark Profile The Profoto A1 is a revolutionary product, the world’s smallest studio light. The day after the launch, we grabbed the company’s CEO to ask him all about it and Profoto

How did you get started in photography, and how did you get into Profoto? I used to work for Hasselblad before joining Profoto in 1997. I was hired as CEO by Conny Dufgran, one of the company’s founders. Profoto wanted to do more and they thought I had the right background because of my engineering andmarketing skills. Did you have a vision for Profoto back then? Yes, we do two things: product development and selling our products on an international level. We really try to satisfy the needs of the customer. We get into the detail and determine exactly what we are going to do – and what we are not going to do. It is a matter of prioritisation. This is the most important part of implementing our strategy, of how to preach the message of light shaping and that photography is light shaping. That is a very difficult message to sell isn’t it? Do you think photographers using different brands get the light shaping message? I think many photographers buying competitor brands understand light shaping. I am impressed by all photographers trying to create their vision, I think that is fantastic. I am not a photographer, I am just trying to be their humble servant in the background to support all photographers. Actually, we prefer to say image creators now because we think photography is changing so rapidly at this time – photography five years from now will not be the same thing as what it is today. Communication will be purely over the internet, printed matter will be second hand, ie. it will be what happenedon theweb, but there is still the need to create great still images because people don't have time. You need to catch their attention in 0.1sec. If you can’t capture their attention in a very short period of time you can’t communicate your image. This is so important for us in a changing market. It is how can we support photographers to take images that can communicate even more in accordance with their own vision. This is why the message of light shaping is not so difficult. We only want to sell our products and ideas to people who want to shape with

Biography Years in the photo industry? 23 years. I started at Photokina 1994. Current location? Profoto’s offices, Stockholm, Sweden. Last picture taken? I am not a photographer. I do not take many images myself. I am not an image creator by any means. When youwere younger, what did youwant to bewhen you grewup? working in product development and sales. I am a trained electrical engineer and have an MBA in business administration so I love numbers and sales. Dogs or cats? Dogs. Toast or cereal? I don't know. Email or phone call? I wanted to a businessman in a small company like Profoto, Phone. Email is simple, but if I want to really communicate, I would choose the phone because I can hear the person react when I speak to them.

Images The A1 is the latest addition to Profoto's popular range of studio lighting solutions for photographers.

develop and change every day and we know some of our competitor brands have disappeared over time. I feel very sad about that, but I don't want to fall into that trap and the only way to avoid that is to invest in product development and to be able to support the needs of the changing market. All photographers need to create their own value by creating their own style and we hope they use light shaping to do that. And so do we. Our style is that we support the light shaping journey of all image creators around the world. That’s what we do. As we speak, the A1 has now been out one day (the product was unveiled on 18 September). How do you feel about reaction of your guests here (over 100 journalists, leading photographers and influencers from 22 countries) and from your website? Yesterday was so fantastic. I asked many of our guests during the day using the A1 what had they learnt, or if indeed they learned anything. We were preaching light shaping and some people were converted to the light shaping way of thinking. Some were only natural light shooters yesterday morning and by the night they were light shapers. Light shaping gives a natural and very beautiful light in their images. I was thrilled by the reaction. On the web, there was so much reaction – news of the A1 was everywhere in our industry so we are very happy. We have produced a lot of video content that shows the benefit of the product (go to as well as YouTube to see it). I saw some negative comments about the A1’s price (£849). I didn’t see the comments as negative. Of course, one should

debate the price but I can guarantee that if youwork and shape with light the A1 is value for money. We had the D2 and PRO-10 generator from Profoto last year and now the A1; so what next for the company? Basically, we have nearly tripled our sales in just a couple of years so we are growing.We are investing 10%of our sales into product development so when we sell more A1s we need to spend that money on more new developments. We have a long list. Once aquarterwe go throughwhat we are going to develop and what can wait to start until the next quarter.We havemanymore ideas than funds but we are investing 10% of our sales and that is quite huge actually. We are growing and we measure our success onnewclients using light shaping to create beautiful images. The company is based on 125 fantastic employees (it was just ten people 20 years ago) who are here for two reasons. One, they love Profoto but two, they are here because they want to develop as professionals. They want to make a career, to make more money and I want to build Profoto as a company that I would want towork formyself, and it is very important for me personally that we change, develop and it is a company where I can build my knowledge. I interview everyone we hire and I say to all of them that you need to change, if you don't want to change do something else and don't work for us.We offer the possibility for you to change but we also demand that you develop so it's important to have an internal drive.

light. If you are only interested in the correct exposure you shouldn’t buy Profoto; I wouldn’t recommend our products, you should buy something else. We are relentless in our drive to only support those who want to create fantastic images with light shaping and that is why in our mission statement we say we want to create knowledge and tools to support all image creators to turn their vision into reality. That is a crucial factor to us, people who want to create with light, to sculpt with light, whatever term you want to use. We say shape with light. Light shaping is traditionally with studio-based lights and now with battery-powered studio-sized lights like the Profoto B1. What did you find out when you started thinking about the A1 back in 2013 and asked photographers in Las Vegas about what they needed? They didn’t say we should develop the A1. They told us their needs. They saidtheywantedtoacreateabeautiful image of the bride and groomdancing in a perfectly lit large room with all their guests. Everything needed to be perfectly lit but with a good kick in the bride’s eyes and face to show how very beautiful she is. That is what they said to us. We thought about how could we create that, and what we came upwithwas the A1. Did you think theA1 was a gamble? Yes and no. The reason is my philosophy, which is that if we don't change we will die. We need to


Once a quarter we go through what we are going to develop and what can wait

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