Nicolas de Rougé


1. What do you do? What are you working on right now?

I am a freelance photographer, based in Shanghai, China. I have been freelancing full time for 5 months now. I shoot many different things, including: travel, portraits, events, products, fashion, underwater, interior design…At the moment I am not shooting much, because I don’t have many jobs this month! So I am working on more “admin” tasks, like updating my portfolio, identifying new markets to advertise to, increasing my online/social media presence, etc…

I also spend time on the other professional activities I have, besides photography. I am a dive master in the Philippines 3 months per year. And I do a bit of sales, promotion and communication for the resort I work at. At the moment I am trying to find new promotion and sales channel around China and Asia, and growing them.

2. What steps did you take to get where you are now?

I hold a master’s degree in engineering. Completely unrelated to photography and the other activities I have now…! After working a few years as an engineer in different countries and for different companies, I switch to a more strategic/marketing role in a firm in Shanghai. But after 2 years in this position, I was still unhappy in my work life. At the same time, I was starting to work as a freelance photographer (part time. On evenings, weekends…) and it was starting to pick up. One day I decided I should try living my passion. A couple months later I quit my boring office job to pursue a career in photography, and a freelance lifestyle! I have not regretted it one bit since I made that decision.


3. What is your usual bloom? In other way round, what is frustrating you right now?

What inspires me?

It can be many and any things. And sometimes the same thing won’t inspire me the same way twice.

Usually traveling is a big factor. Discovering a new environment makes me curious about everything, and more eager to capture what goes on around me. Shooting portraits of a new model, when the creative feeling is there, is very inspiring. Discovering a new person through taking their photos can be interesting. Some places I already know also inspire me to shoot. For example, very “geometric” places, with many lines, perspectives, and angles to get creative.

What’s frustrating me… The cold!! It’s freezing at the moment in Shanghai and it rains a lot. It doesn’t make me want to leave the house and shoot. Sometimes the complexity of combining agendas is also a frustration factor. Between photographer, model, MUA, assistant… It can be difficult to set up shoots.

4. Let’s bring out the time machine. What do you wish you could have told yourself, when, and why?

I’m pretty happy with the way things have unfolded… I just wish I had experimented earlier with a camera. I wish I could tell my (much) younger self to just pick up a camera, and find friends with camera, and play around, from a young age, when creativity is like a second nature. I would also tell my younger self a couple years back, to study my passion, not something that is “safe”. I also wish I could have taken the decision of quitting earlier, and switch to photography earlier.


5. What kind of opportunities/projects are you looking for? What is your hourly rate, retainer, or salary range? If it depends on the project, give us some examples of projects and the cost.

I’m looking for any kind of photography project/job! I’m pretty open as I currently work on very diverse projects. I favor travel, portraits, and documentary photography, but I’d also like to get more into fashion and event photography. And I’m also trying to assist/learn video. I’m also looking for other creatives to collaborate with, learn from, and share my experience with! My hour rate depends on the kind of projects, the number of pictures, etc…

My price on projects is mainly coming from 2 things: Shooting, that I bill per hour, and editing, that I bill per picture delivered.

As a rough estimate, my shooting hourly rate is between 700-1,000CNY. For the editing, I charge somewhere between 50-200CNY per picture delivered. I also have some “packages that I offer, for some types of shooting. Here is a table with some examples:


Last one! How do you “stay creative”?

Sometimes it’s difficult to stay creative…! I don’t have a magic recipe. But sometimes I find that getting in touch with other creatives and collaborating on something can spark creativity with ideas that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought about on my own. Looking for inspiration on Instagram also helps, or other sources on the internet, websites from my favorite artists,…Shooting with different equipment also helps sometimes, as well as challenging. Shooting with a focal lens I’m not used to, or in an environment I don’t know well.

If you would like us to know you more, feel free to give extra information:

1. For other people in your field, what do they usually lack?

They lack a business sense. Some friends take amazing pictures but they don’t know how to handle customers, deal with contracts, do their accounting, etc… Me included! And a lot of the photographers I know lack some people skills too. Which I think is a major problem, and the reason why many people find photographers to be a bit pretentious.

2. What’s your style/perspective/taste? Do you have a project that represents this?

I don’t know what my style is yet... It’s evolving a lot, especially lately. I get inspired by many different things and I see the direct impact it has on my style. I would say I tend to shoot natural, hopefully meaningful images, that convey a message. My documentary series on North Korea, my travel series on Myanmar, and a couple other series in architecture photography and abstract portraits are good representation of that I feel.

Links below:

3. Who’s in your Go-To Squad?

I don’t really have one! And I wish I did. I work a lot with Lena. A very talented make-up artist in Shanghai. But that’s it... I collaborate with other photographers, but nothing too regular on the shooting aspect. It’s more about