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SBF Personal


© Philipp Hitz. Niklaus Manuel St. Anthony Healing the Sick and the Possessed, 1518 - 1520, Kunstmuseum Bern

Philipp Hitz. Zurich-based photographer Philipp Hitz is active in a rather rare photographic field.

For over 12 years he has been photographing works of art, paintings, graphic art, documents, sculptures and craft objects throughout Europe. His clients are artists, galleries, auction houses, museums, corporate collections and private collectors. His photographs have appeared in numerous publications. 

For almost 10 years he was head of the photography department at the Swiss Institute for Art Studies (SIK-ISEA) in Zurich. In 1994/1995 he trained at the Spéos Paris Photographic Institute and assisted in Paris, London and Zurich. Since March 2020, he has been freelancing again. In the past years, he has photographed more than 20,000 works of art.

Phillip has also recently become a member of the SBF. He tells the editorial team about his everyday professional life and how he found art photography.
Why did you make photographing works of art your main focus? It was a coincidence. In 2010, I applied to the SIK-ISEA as a photographer. The field of activity appealed to me. The institute was also close to our home, so it was easy to combine work and family.
What interested you in this field? While digital photography was already a matter of course in other fields in 2010, there were many uncertainties and misunderstandings in the field of digital museum photography, the digital photography of works of art. Quality standards such as Metamorfoze or FADGI only became established later. It was exciting to be part of this "pioneering phase".

What about the competition? There are some who seriously specialise in it, but there is enough work, we don't really compete. It's different with the documentation of exhibitions. There is more competition.
What was your most exciting artwork photography project? Back then at photography school in Paris, a teacher said: "You're only as good as your next picture". An ambivalent credo, yet I maintain, based on it, that the most exciting project is always the one immediately ahead. This applies to both commissioned photography and my freelance work.
What is the difficult thing about photographing artwork? Since it is a matter of documenting as correctly as possible - sometimes the photographs are also used for status reports - there are usually narrow limits to post-processing. The motto "We'll fix it in post!" rarely works for such commissions.
How do you work with the artists? Photographing contemporary art often requires an in-depth examination of the work and the artists' intentions. An example of this is the photographs for the catalogue of works by the Bernese artist Markus Raetz. He often made the process of perception itself the subject of his works. It was therefore a great advantage that I was able to work directly with him on the recordings.
You went into business for yourself in 2020 - was that a good decision? Yes, a good decision despite the adverse circumstances.
What expectations do you have of SBF membership? In everyday professional life you get to know all kinds of people from all kinds of professions, in my case of course mainly art historians and artists, but rarely photographers. So I hope for a stimulating exchange.


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