World: My Portfolio - Ernst Fischer

"The photography career all started when I bought a really big camera and saw what it could do," says Ernst Fischer, who shot Discovery Network's "age of terror" ad, the gold winner at last year's Campaign Press Awards.

Fischer arrived in London from Switzerland with directorial aspirations.

Having decided that directing wasn't for him, he moved into photography three years ago and says that commercial photography is where he found his allies. "Advertising people liked my work and this suited me as I've found that working as a photographer can be quite lonely. Ads are great as they mean you can work collaboratively with some really inspiring people. You don't become so introspective."

Fischer's portfolio boasts some big names and includes work on Volkswagen, American Express, the NSPCC and Volvo.

The "age of terror" ad, which appears to show a plane flying toward two tower blocks in a manner that is suggestive of the 11 September attacks, is, perhaps unsurprisingly, computer-generated.

"Hooper Galton's brief for the shoot was pretty clear. I found two grimy Hackney tower blocks to use and then we dropped the plane in afterwards. The idea of the ad was to jolt people the minute they saw it - it's about evoking instant memories," Fischer says.

Speaking about the complaints the ad received, he argues that the events of 11 September have changed people's perception of the world and that such images and ideas can't be avoided forever. Also, he says: "The point of the ad, what it is promoting, is a documentary that goes a way towards digesting what happened rather than keeping wounds open."

Fischer talks animatedly about the shoot for Land Rover where he cut his teeth.

This work shows a Land Rover poster perched on extreme terrain - in the desert, next to a river and on a glacier. The shoot did not involve any computer manipulation and Fischer describes moments as being "very hairy".

"The hardest was the desert shoot," he says. "With the desert fog and wind, there are only certain times of day you can shoot. Then there was the footprint problem and the shifting dunes that meant the poster board kept sinking. It was great though, really James Bondy, as we had all the toys, the helicopters, quad bikes and speed boats."

Fischer's next project is for Castrol oil. "There's not a particular type of product that I like to shoot, I just like intelligent layouts and will embrace anything," he says.

Ernst Fischer was talking to Emma Barns.


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