While my project on Corsica I wanted to photograph people to not only show the cityscapes and landscapes I explore. I went up to it as a training to establish contacts to complete stranges and to try to capture their portraits. This slideshow presents my outcome. If it does´t start klick the photograph.
Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt was here in the Ruhr Area I live in. He was invited because of his exibition “I am serious about not being serious” in the Ludwig Gallery in the Palace Oberhausen. Till September 11th, 2011 they show photographs he created for his »personal pleasure« in a time span of 60 years. The exibition I warmly recomment to visit. There are a lot of aesthetic and humorous photographs to enjoy. Most of them are candid with only a very few that are posed. Some of Erwitt´s photographs are shown here.
The interview with Elliott Erwitt and his book signing was more than a little bit overcrowded. I was very lucky to get some moments and small spots between all those heads and shoulders for taking photographs for myself.
A little it bit felt like that there are fans wanting to reach a celebrity. Photographers did crowd the scene flashing all the time with cameras in burst modus. Unlike the meeting with Robert Lebeck there was no opportunity to meet Elliott Erwitt and to have a small conversation.
Here I record some of his answers within the interview:
Q: »Would you be a photographer if you could start your life from new?« – Elliott Erwitt: »I would photograph the same sujects in the same manner I did. My photography has not changed when doing it for my own over 60 years. Only the photographs I created for clients did change because of the changing needs of my customers.«
Q: »When evolving as a photographer, at which point in time did you state yourself to be a good photographer?« – Elliott Erwitt: »It is up to you to judge my state.«
Q: »Why all those dogs?« – Elliott Erwitt: »They live all over the world. They are friendly. I like them. They don´t ask for prints.«
Q: »Do you create a lot of photographs to do the great ones?« – Elliott Erwitt: »Photography is like fishing. Sometimes you are fishing and don´t get one fish. Sometimes you think you catched a fish but you haven´t. Sometimes you catch a small one, sometimes you catch a bigger one. Mostly it´s crap.«
The world-renowned german photographer Robert Lebeck openend his exibition in the Lumas Gallery in Düsseldorf on 2011-03-18. I had the opportunity to join this event and was very pleased by the behaving of this man. Although he was the center of the evening he was withdrawn and unassuming. He was also very friendly and humorous. When I had the chance to have a conversation with Lebeck I shaped the hypothesis that his behaving would have helped to get access to people when performing his profession as a photo journalist. He told me that he had never thought about when he was doing the job but could agree with the consideration.
Lebecks photographs show that once he had creeped up on somebody on velvet praws he was able to catch the moment with his argus-eyes. See the website of Robert Lebeck for some examples or a brief study. I looked at the evening not only as a visit but as a training in photo jorunalism too. So I took a lot of frames of Lebeck acting on this stage and trying to show his friendlyness and humor. There were three or four more photographers who besieged him the whole evening and there were a lot of guests with their point-an-shoot-cameras too but Lebeck was not disturbed in his serenity. I am very thankful for this.
All of my readers of this blog I wish a Happy New Year 2011!
My passed passed year 2010 was full of work, learning and pleasure. Till now I had hardly any time to reflect my expieriences and to list the lessons learned. I will do that later on because I wish to translate it into empirical knowledge.
At my last self assignment – 20-years-Post-&-Welters – I trained to better create environmental portraits on the boat the aniversary was celebrated on. When the journey started I was introduced by the host of the party as a friend and a photographer. He told his guest that the photographs will be shown on his and on my website. He invited his guests to give a sign when they don´t want to be photographed. Here I will show Portraits of which I am pleased and proud of.
There were a lot of people around and the most of them got used to me photographing them. With some of them I had a talk about themselves beeing photographed. Most of them I spoke to told me that they do not feel comfortable being photographed. I tried to build up a good relationship to them. That were my strategies and messages:
• I don´t like to be photographed too but I am luky to see good pictures I am in.
• I know that there has to be a balance between having a party whithout disturbance and the goal of the host and his guests to have some good photographs to hold their memories.
• There will not be shown any photographs in the gallerey in which they look bad.
• After creating a photograph they can look at the display of my camera and decide whether to delete it.
• They should talk to others and enjoy the party. I will wait for the decive moment when they smile or laugh. I will not press the shutter release when they are eating and drinking.
• They should not pose. It would be the best not to consider me.
• I accuse for using the flashlight because of the very low light within the boat and harsh light outside.
So they could see that I am aware of their situation and could share some values with them. After this conversation most of them agreed in being photographed. They got into a comfort zone because they haven´t had a sence of risc any more. Most of them cooperated, gave us – me and them – a try. There where only some guest I didn´t get a good photograph from. Mostly there was at last a photograph that could be accepted.
Very happy I am with this photograph because the woman told me that there is no chance to get a good portrait of her. I know her for years and could not agree. The problem is not her appearance but her feeling that a photo whith her in will fail. I hope this photograph will tell her another story.
One of the guests told me – supposable some more felt this without articulating it – that the mimic (facial expression) of me hidden behind my heavy dslr-camera with a 70-200mm-lens and a flash mounted on is intimidating. I could agree to this and told him that I own a smaller camera and would have used it when the picture quality would be as good as those from my dslr. He could agree in this argument and got used to me, my camera and me photographing him. Finaly he could give me a little smile when facing my camera.