an senior professor orating

Prof. Harald Mante is sharing his thoughts on picture series during the opening of the exibition.

»A picture series can contain a number of strong images that become stronger within the group of others. The photograph itself must not be exceptionel but the series could be. You have to manage to get good photographs to put together and you have to manage the design task to put them into one frame in an interesting and aesthetic way. As a spectator you can look at the series as a whole and moving foreward you can study the elements.« This I took as a summary of what photographer Prof. Harald Mante (author of the book Die Fotoserie respectively Serial Photography) said in his speech about picture series. He introduced 126 picture series from 43 amateur photographers who study in the Altenakademie (academy for the elderly people), a nonprofit educational institution in Dortmund. Every week they have one task to do and their best picture series are shown from February 10th to March 7th 2013 in the Hansesaal in Luenen in the exibiton named »The Picture Series«. If you want to watch the exibition in the evening there are additional oportunities.

It worth a visit!

Here are some of my favorites:

Meeting strangers at Corsica

Man showing a warm smile to his companion who is not in the photograph.

We met on the streets of Bastia. His companion did not want to be photographed and I was happy because he agreed. After showing some poses he looked to his companion and I was lucky with the result.

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.

What fails is our apprehension

A couple looking at a photograph created by Joel Sternfeld © jens-stachowitz-photography

»What fails is our apprehension of our incredible amasing and beautiful world.« is the statement of Joel Sternfeld that resonates most within me. First of all I have to say that I am trying to understand which message Joel Sternfeld wants to tell the readers of his photographs, books and the listeners of his lectures. I am not quite shure that I have got »it«. What makes me unsecure is a photograph I did not like at a first sight and that I did not read careful enough. The icing on the cake is as small as a stamp in this large-format photograph: A baby that suckles at the breast of his mother who is sitting on a couch that was taken out of a moving van in front of a new building somewhere at the city limits close to the woods. Someone else pointed to this culmination of this photographic short story I did not apprehend. So I have to say that it may be true that I am a very well trained to read situations and relationships what is essential to do my work as a facilitator, but I have to educate my perception of pictures and photographs.

What I have percieved in the current exhibition of Sternfeld´s work in the Museum Folkwang and whithin a lecture he held on July, 16th 2011 and a short conversation is that Joel Sternfeld is a »concerned photographer« – the Süddeutsche Zeitung called him to be one –. What is he concerned about? Money? Fame? – No, not at all!

It appears to me that Joel Sternfeld is a very self-efficiating contemporary, a humorous and amicable storyteller. He is concerned about doing great work, getting on a higer level of perception, telling something well-founded about our world and our society wanting to improve it, saving our incredible amasing and beautiful world from unpleasant acts mankind could and does do. He tells us »what we do with the surface of the earth tells us who we are« in this video, but he is not at all a itinerant preacher. He is not at the frontline either like a war photographer risking his live in order to shock and push us. Sternfeld is looking for subtle undertones that touch our souls and Sternfeld is creating photographs we want to look at more than one time, those that do not disgust but pull us in.

Joel Sternfeld is concerned about relationships of humans to each other, humans to nature and colors to each other. His eyes light up when speaking about color shades in his photographs. Yes, he is concerned not only about the story in the photograph and the story behind the photograph but also about the composition and the color. Some of Joel Sternfeld´s photographs are shown online by Luhring Augustine.

Museum Folkwang exibits different series of photographs Sternfeld created starting from 1970 till nowadays. Very much I do recomend to visit the exhibition in Essen, Germany till Oct., 23rd 2011, then touring to Amsterdam, Berlin and Vienna.

And: look carefully. – Thank you, Joel for your teaching!

Portraits are build on a faithfull relationship

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. (Jens Stachowitz)

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.
 (Jens Stachowitz)

There are some more photographs I am proud of and that needed no effords to develop the acceptance of the subject.
 (Jens Stachowitz)
 (Jens Stachowitz)
 (Jens Stachowitz)
 (Jens Stachowitz)
 (Jens Stachowitz)