Photographer Interview

…with Tarmo Tulit

We speak to Limerick’s busiest commercial  and creative photographer Tarmo Tulit, whose clients include, Adare Manor, The Treasury Restaurant, Texas Steakout, The Jasmine Palace Group, Angel Lane, Pandora Bell, The Radisson, Barrington’s Hospital and Fusion Magazine to name but a few about how he helps his clients reach their full visual potential.

Name: Tarmo Tulit

Occupation: Commercial Photographer


Tel: 061 597627

How did you become a photographer?

For most of my adult life I had been pursuing a career in Food and Beverage industry as I had always been fascinated with everything food and drink related, and the behind the scenes side of things in that particular business as well. I went to study it on a professional level and obtained a diploma and a qualification, after which I started participating at national competitions and further learning of the craft. Soon after I started pursuing a career in F&B management and ended up running different bars and managing nightclubs. Only when I reached my 30s did I realise that my interests had changed and I needed to try my hand in something more creative. This is where the photography came in. Once I took it on more seriously I was hooked, this is what I love to do and plan to continue doing. The best part of it is that I can still work within the area that I was passionate about in my 20s with food and drink photography – that, together with the interiors/exteriors of restaurants is one of my favourite things to shoot.

What inspires you?

Initially it is beauty that inspires me, in any form, but mainly visual – be it a beautiful person, someone’s kind eyes or contagious smile, an interesting dish made with love and passion, incredible architecture or interior design, things like that. What really makes it tick for me is the light. Whatever it is I am shooting, or just observing without the intention of shooting it, if there’s a rare moment of beautiful lighting, whether naturally occurring or premeditated studio lighting, it sends tingles up my spine every single time.

How does each client vary?

Absolutely every client varies, everyone is different and so are their needs. There are very few shoots I can remember which I can say were very similar. But that is absolutely OK with me – I prefer it that way because that is what makes my job interesting. I like problem solving, I like finding a solution to a challenge, especially if I get to approach it creatively. There is a possible downside though which I very rarely face, which can make things very difficult, and that is an uncooperative client, a client who hasn’t bothered to think what is it they want to get out of the shoot. It is in the client’s own interest to work with the expert as closely as possible and make sure to communicate clearly what is it they need and want out of the shoot, because at the end of the day it is their business, and their brand that will be affected by those photos, so clients really need to put some thought into it from that perspective. The photos will be most likely still done professionally and well but whether the style suits your brand, adds value to it, and communicates your vision is a different story. So my advice would be to work with the photographer at the initial consultation stage as openly and in detail as possible, preparing a well explained brief, and you are guaranteed to get the best possible results for your money.

What makes a good picture stand out from the average?

This one is a bit tricky to answer as the requirements are different in different areas of photography. How long is a piece of string? There are many variables and they can be different in different areas of photography, fine art photography for example pays very little if any attention at all to the technical side of things, street photography for example is all about that one single decisive moment, but when it comes to commercial photography then in my opinion what matters most is professionalism, great technical execution, unique approach yet staying true to the brief and guidelines, and added value from the image for the client’s business. A commercial photographer needs to understand the brief well, follow the guidelines clearly, offer the best possible solution within those guidelines, and execute it well. A good commercial photo is only good when it adds value to your business.

What is the influence of digital technology on your photography?

I love working digitally, always have. Even though I do like to grab my old film camera and work with whatever unveils in front of me, my main interest lies with the digital. I don’t consider myself as a photographer in its purist sense, I rather consider myself an image maker. Digital offers some great solutions, and comes very handy in cutting down time and production costs. For example, to create a single technically great and well lit image of a luxury hotel room with a film camera can make you face some impossible tasks, a whole team of people, tons of gear, and most part of a full day to create, whereas with digital technology I can create as good of an image by myself and in few hours, plus then some time in post process. It is still a fairly complicated procedure but you can achieve great results in shorter times if you have mastered the specific craft. There are as many different opinions about that approach to digital photography as there are different photographers, but as long as I’m giving my client exactly what they want for cheaper and way quicker, then it’s a win-win situation in my books for sure. But by no means have I intended to devalue analogue photography, there are some subtle elements that you just cannot create in digital, but I would believe it to be the least relevant to the area of commercial photography.

Can you walk us through the process of an actual commercial shoot?

There is no one answer to this as every shoot is different; they can be complete night and day from one another. But in general, after the initial inquire I usually try to meet face to face with the client. Depending on the brief it usually takes between half an hour and hour to narrow down and agree on most of the details of the shoot, like the shot list, the style, the times and dates, locations, specific requirements, turnover times etc. Once all that is agreed I usually either give them a list of prep work required from their side or mail it to them later. That prep work is important both for me and my client, more they can prep from their side, less time it takes for me to shoot it, less it is going to cost them. For example if it is an interior shoot, the room should be cleaned to the tiniest detail before I arrive there, no dust or rubbish, no unnecessary elements (e.g. no room service menus in hotel rooms or other brochures/labels/things that do not add anything to the image and just clutter it), have everything you want to showcase ready and prepared, be it a breakfast tray or a chess table, whatever it is, no need to go looking for it when I’m already set up and ready to go. If dealing with food, do not cook anything before the photographer is ready to go, once the dish is plated it only has about 10 minutes of shooting time in it, after that it dries out, all sorts of juices and sauces mix together, and everything goes bland or just soggy. Or if it is a professional headshots you are after then there’s a whole other list of things to prep altogether. Be patient, things take time to get done right.. Most professional shoots vary between half a day and a full day to shoot depending on an assignment, but sometimes it can take few days as well.

Article by: Michelle Costello

Photograph by Tarmo Tulit