Inspiration

Über Inspiration und Kreativität – About inspiration and creativity

In Search of Lost Time

Attic Finds - ©HeikeRost.com 11/2013 - All rights reserved.
Attic finds from ancient times are very often a touching, even embarrassing experience: The look at the handwritten notes of an unknown person, who died around the middle of last century, offers an intense perspective of the past and of history. All those items of daily life, cobwebbed and covered with layers of dust in their long sleep! The enchanted light came from a narrow roof hatch and some cracked roof tiles; it gently touched the ancient pushchair and gave a haunting atmosphere to the abandoned room.

It has been a frosty weekend on the countryside: While chopping wood, I let my thoughts wander around. Later, I sat at the chimney for a while, listened to the sizzling noise of the fire; what a timeless moment of silence, once in a while the wooden balks and floors cracked slightly. As if the house itself was a vivid being, with a gentle breath in its sleep, suddenly stretching from time to time. What a pleasure to listen to these stories of their own! Told by the abandoned house itself – to the unexpected visitor, who didn’t come as an intruder but a cautious observer and explorer.

The two days have been a intense and sometimes grief-stricken journey: walking on tiptoe, deep into the history of the countryside, where so much remains of bygone family lives, dreams and wishes murmur and whisper – about shattered visions of being at home.

Photo: ©HeikeRost.com 11/2013 – All rights reserved.

Personal Best of 2013

Sie ist eine Institution der Photokunst-Szene weit über die Grenzen von Frankreich hinaus, mit zahlreichen Größen der Photographie befreundet: Madame Agathe Gaillard, deren Galerie mit den altmodischen roten Holzfensterrahmen ein Muss für Photographen und Paris-Besucher mit Faible für die Welt der Bilder ist. Was für ein Vergnügen, in dort in Vintage Prints zu stöbern, Bekanntes zu finden oder wieder zu entdecken und Neues zu erforschen! In ihrer unterhaltsamen Autobiographie plaudert Madame Gaillard amüsant und kenntnisreich über fast 40 Jahre Galeristenleben mit rund 250 Ausstellungen – und ihre bemerkenswerten Begegnungen mit Ralph Gibson, Hervé Guibert, Manuel Alvarez Bravo und vielen anderen. Ein faszinierendes Selbstporträt der klugen und kultivierten Grande Dame der Photographie, als Paperback (bislang ausschließlich in französischer Sprache) erschienen – bei Éditions Gallimard in der Reihe »Témoins d’Art«, ca. 20 €.*

Einfühlsam, irritierend und sehr emotional: »A Reluctant Father« von Philip Toledano, Autor von „A New Kind of Beauty“. In Bild und Text beschreibt der amerikanische Photograph die ganz persönliche und nicht immer einfache Entwicklung vom Paar zur Familie – aus männlicher Sicht. Ein gelegentlich provozierendes Buch, das mich mit seiner Sensibilität und Ehrlichkeit tief berührt hat. Die Website »The Reluctant Father« gehört zu meinen Netz-Highlights 2013: Dort kann man das Buch komplett durchblättern; gekauft habe ich es übrigens auch als »echtes Buch«.* (Update: 19.2.2014 Ein sehenswertes Video über Phil Toledano und sein Buch.)

»Hashtag Sandy« ist das gemeinsame Projekt von insgesamt 20 Photographen, die mit ihren Smartphones die Folgen des Hurrikans Sandy dokumentiert haben. Aus den Bildern, die nicht nur im Sozialen Netz berühmt, sondern auch in zahlreichen Magazinen und Tageszeitungen gedruckt wurden, ist eine spannende Ausstellung entstanden. Das gleichnamige Buch fasst die beeindruckenden Fotos u.a. von Ben Lowy, Ruddy Roye, Ed Kashi und Wyatt Gallery zusammen. Sämtliche Erlöse aus der Ausstellung, dem Verkauf von Prints und dem in limitierter und signierter Auflage erschienenen Buch kommen den Opfern des Hurrikans Sandy zu Gute. Zu beziehen ist »#Sandy« via Website des Projekts.

»In No Great Hurry – 13 Lessons in Life With Saul Leiter« ist ein wunderbarer Film über den kürzlich verstorbenen großen Photographen. Ein filmisches Portrait eines leidenschaftlichen Sammlers, der seine Art der Photographie kompromisslos der Jagd nach dem ganz großen Erfolg vorzog. Eine großartige Dokumentation, in fast drei Jahren intensiver Begleitung entstanden – und ein inspirierender Einblick in einen faszinierenden Menschen und seine intensive, zeitlose Bildsprache.
Mehr über den Film auf der Website, die DVD ist ausschließlich dort erhältlich.

»Vagabond Photographer«, die großartige Retrospektive des chilenischen Photographen Sergio Larrain, zuletzt in der Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris zu sehen, ist zu Recht als eins der besten Bücher 2013 ausgezeichnet worden. Über die beeindruckenden, einfühlsamen Bilder Larrains hinaus ist dieser Bildband ein handwerklich wunderschönes Exemplar seiner Gattung: Faksimileseiten der maschinengetippten Manuskripte des Photographen mit seinen handschriftlichen Anmerkungen als vorangestellter Einstieg in seine Bilderwelt, ein Leineneinband mit Prägung und Vignettenbild auf der Titelseite; Buchkunst, die allein schon beim Anfassen Freude macht und dazu einlädt, in Sergio Larrains Photographien zu stöbern. Die französische Originalausgabe ist bei Éditions Xavier Barral 2013 erschienen, ca. 65 €. (Auch als englischsprachige Lizenzausgaben von Aperture und Thames & Hudson erhältlich.*)


Last but not least gehört Peter Turnleys Buch »French Kiss – A Love Letter to Paris« zu meinen Favoriten in diesem Jahr. Wegen der klassischen, eleganten Schwarzweißbilder, die ganz persönliche, manchmal augenzwinkernde, bisweilen melancholische, immer aber sehr berührende Geschichten aus Paris erzählen. Über eine Stadt, die irgendwie aus der Zeit gefallen scheint, über skurrile Begegnungen mit ungewöhnlichen Menschen und die Liebe zu den kleinen Dingen des Lebens. Mehr über dieses Buch auch in diesem Blog oder dem Video über »French Kiss«; erhältlich ist es exklusiv über die Website von Peter Turnley, Preis 79,- $.

Fotos:
Madame Gaillard in ihrer Galerie, ©HeikeRost.com 09/2013
Karin Rehn-Kaufmann und Peter Turnley in der Leica Galerie Salzburg, ©HeikeRost.com 11/2013

Disclaimer:
Die mit * gekennzeichneten Links sind Affiliate-Links – mit einem evt. Kauf über diese Links tragen Sie zur Finanzierung dieses Blogs bei. Mehr Informationen dazu auch hier.

Image and View – Selections 8.11.2013

A touching story – directed by photojournalist Peter Van Agtmael: „If I can share my story and help somebody else…I don’t care if it’s a room of 100 or 1500…if one person out of that room changes their life for the better because of my story…oh my god…I gotta keep doing this.“ The film portrays Bobby Henlin, a war veteran, who suffered burns on more than a third of his body, when his Humvee hit an explosive device near Baghdad/Iraq.

„Healing Bobby“, a documentary by TIME magazine, premieres upcoming monday. Click to read more about the project.

Finds on the web: „Les yeux avides – Chroniques sur la photographie“, a French blog with essays and selected photographs. Written by Caroline Bénichou, it is a great source of inspiration for all who are interested in photography and photographic culture.

Blog „Les yeux avides“
Caroline Bénichou on Facebook

Weekend reads – on photography (5.11.2013)

Paris, Metro - ©HeikeRost.com 12.9.2013 - All rights reserved.

Some interesting reads about photography and photojournalism – it’s all about perspectives.

»A lot of photographers find that using fiction is being dishonest,” explains French photographer Samuel Bollendorff, a photojournalist and web documentary producer. “But then when you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have any avenues to express what you have to say – the press has been decimated, for example – you have to think about new narrative structures, which means you have to revolutionise the craft and look at other ways of telling your stories.«
Source: British Journal of Photography, »Stranger than fiction – should documentary photographers add fiction to reality?«

»Looking at a world where „image-making has become a form of communication nearly as banal, instinctive and pervasive as talking“, Ritchin asks: „Do we need – even more than we need photographers – metaphotographers who are capable of sorting through some of the billions of images now available, adding their own and contextualising all of them so they become more useful, more complex and more visible?“ In other words: „How does today’s image-maker create meaningful media?«
Source: British Journal of Photography, »Meta-narrative: Fred Richin on the future of photojournalism«

»“It is hard to drive a stake into something as fluid as the mantra of the image flood, but we really have to avoid its easy repetition if we are going to move understanding forward.“«
Source: David Campbell, »Abundant photographery: the misleading metaphor of the image flood«

Photo: ©HeikeRost.com 12.9.2013 – All rights reserved.

The charme of surprise in overcoming creative blocks

Tropical heat, thunderstorms – and stories which turn out to be no story at all« .- can be a very frustrating experience on assignment. Sometimes that ends up in serious creative blocks, which I tend to call „black holes in motivation“. The best way for me to overcome those moments is – to take a break, immediately. I consider it most important to focus on something completely different. Depending on schedule and situation, it doesn’t really matter if this change in perspective is just for taking a deep breath, for a few minutes, a coffee and maybe a cigarette – or  for half an hour.

The other day: After fixing some car problems, a complete switch of the schedule due to weather conditions and some urgent mails, a morning walk at Lake Constance has been my personal choice to start into work and load my batteries. On my way to complete the story with a few photos, I quickly grabbed my Leica and just two of my favorite lenses; no burden, neither literally spoken nor in the physical sens – just a comfortable minimum of equipment which allows works and doesn’t block the photographer. Annoyed, definitely not in my best mood, struggling with a heavy thunderstorm related headache, I slouched along the shore of the Lake.

Dorothy and Roland at Lake Constance - ©HeikeRost.com 7.8.2013 - All rights reserved. While strolling, I enjoyed the panoramic view of Lake Constance; the foggy air slightly started to clear off as the sky with the low clouds did. Suddenly sunshine – and a couple on a bench caught my attention. With a soft voice, they were talking to each other, leaning towards each other in a very tender way. As I approached, they looked up and smiled to me. A mutual, joyous »Good morning!«, I asked them whether they would mind that I’d take a photo of them, which was actually a start into a lovely conversation. And we found out something truly remarkable: we’ve already met, without taking any notice of each other. The evening before, we all sat at the same small pub, with a drink, and watched the arising thunderstorm, listening to the sounds of nature.

Dorothy and her husband Roland, married for 57 years, are on vacation at Lake Constance. I’ve been fascinated and very touched, either by their loving tenderness towards each other and the couple’s admirable youthfulness in thoughts, humor and attitude. We spent around half an hour in a deeply inspiring conversation; about the beauty of this morning moment, the light and its changes, about arts, literature and music. When I left to continue my work, Dorothy unexpectedly came back to music, obviously struck by a sudden idea. »You have to go to St. Stephan’s church at noon!“« she proposed, »They give a small concert with Johann Sebastian Bach’s beautiful organ music – I’m sure you’ll enjoy that very much!“ Wishing each other a splendid day, we left the place.

During our conversation, I didn’t mention that Bach belongs to my favorites in music. I often listen to his beautiful works, especially in times when I need concentration, try to focus on certain aspects of my work or start into writing. Still perplexed by the couple’s proposal, I went to St. Stephan’s at noon. Passed the entrance door, entered the nave – and there they sat, Dorothy and Roland, waving at me and inviting me to take a seat besides them. This time, we didn’t talk at all. But, with a smile on our faces, we enjoyed together the midday concert and its inspiration. Unnecessary to mention: the photo I took inside the church (of the couple, absorbed in thoughts and by Bach’s music) was exactly the photo I needed to complete my photo series.

The wonderful encounter with Dorothy, 81, and her husband Roland (87) has been a surprising, very intense lesson in overcoming a creative block. I feel very grateful for this moment which I consider a truly precious one. I don’t believe in blind chance, but in serendipity.

Imagine the images!

After the rain - ©HeikeRost.com 2013 - All rights reserved.There are definitely moments in life when I decide not to take photographs – but just to sit and watch: Completely absorbed in thoughts, focused on observations and perceptions, concentrated on the smallest details. I love to simply watch, whether changes in light or atmosphere around me – like I did during the last hour and a half. After a day with incredible heat and insane air humidity, I sat down in a small pub at the shores of Lake Constance. Work on assignment has been done for today. I’ve been done also. What could be better than a cool drink and this amazing panoramic view of the Alps?

And what could be more interesting than watching the growing clouds on the horizon, which pile up to another kind of Alps in the sky? All the colors around, the air and the light were so brillant and sharp – like they are just before a thunderstorm. Suddenly and with an enormous speed, the light was fading. Seemingly swept away by a cool breeze from the mountains, within a couple of minutes all colors around blurred, then were gone, extinguished by that sudden darkness. Lake Constance vanished – behind falling rain, like a charming lady hiding behind a grey silken veil. First silence arose, than the soft murmur of approaching rain. Leaves were whirling and dancing in the refreshing wind. I sat – and just watched. No camera, no photo. Just watching. And listening to the sounds of nature.

Such impressing, overwhelming beauty: Hissing and dabbling water – waves on the Lake as well as rain on ancient roofs and rain gutters. Sparkling little lights were shimmering on the the dark cobblestone pavement, reflections of ongoing flashes, like white, red, yellow strobe lights, painting a variety of colors into the sky. Empty streets in the old town of Lindau at Lake Constance, nothing to hear: No voices, no footsteps, nothing except roaring thunder, which causes vibrations all over and the whispering sound of water. An abundance of stories, told by nature itself. This wonderful resonant silence within: I’d prefer not to disturb it with an annoying click of my camera. I simply sat down and just listened, while more thoughts and inner images came to my mind than words could tell.

This world is a truely impressive, beautiful place to be.

Inspirations nocturnes …

Mer baltique - ©HeikeRost.com 2010 - All rights reserved.Comme d’habitude, la chaleur estivale me privait de sommeil. J’ai choisi de me promener au bord de la mer Baltique – au moins par la pensée. Influencée par les photos des collègues estimés, c’était un temps des réflexions au petit matin tranquil: Ça dépend de la perspective individuelle, si les beaux instants se transforment en inspiration ou distraction. Plus au moins, je éstime l’inspiration et la distraction comme vraies jumelles – leur union fait leur force.

The Mistaken Idea of Beauty

[youtube]http://youtu.be/xPAat-T1uhE[/youtube]»…on a party I would never have talked to a charakter like her, because she doesn’t fulfill physically the demands that we’re brought up to think that women have to have … and I say there’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.« Dustin Hoffman about his famous movie character »Tootsie«.

As a photographer I focus on people, no matter if in street photography, reportage or portraiture. And nearly every assignment starts with a conversation: I’m interested in body language, in the way somebody laughs, talks and behaves. A similar »wavelength«, mutual respect and confidence are fundamental for my work. I look at facial expressions and gestures, the small changes in faces during those conversations – in order to feel and experience what a person’s character and personality are about. Essentials of my photography, which always begin with the human being; prior to any photography work, my personal perceptions become ideas and a visual concept.

Quite a number of people I’ve worked with considered themselves as unphotogenic, even unattractive. I completely disagree with these self-concepts: Yvel Hyppolite, my former teacher in portraiture, used to say »There aren’t any unphotogenic people – but plenty of awkward photographers!« I remember and appreciate his wise words very much; what I once considered to be a rather idealistic perspective, reflects today – after years in photography – my personal experiences. I completely agree to Yvel’s concept and could tell a lot of stories about very personal encounters. In fact, they are too personal to be told publicly; it’s a matter of respect for the individual in front of my camera. But many of these situations were very touching and sometimes so intense that I had tears in my eyes.

What could be more impressing than the moment somebody discovers him- or herself in my photographs, completely perplexed by an unknown, new perspective, asking me: »…is that really me? But I’m beautiful?!« Frankly, I’m sure that everybody is beautiful; not in the common sense of a completely mistaken ideal of beauty, but in his or her individual, special way. Beyond that stupid »brainwash« (Dustin Hoffman), all you need to do is to feel and see it.

Adventures with a View

Sol Gabetta 2009 ©HeikeRost.com - All rights reserved.»Hands are something very interesting to look at: They tell stories … in the way people touch each other, shake or hold hands, embrace or handle delicate things. Additionally their gestures and various shapes reveal much about a person’s character and temper – like Sol Gabetta’s elegant but powerful hand in a moment of silent contemplation during a rehearsal.«

So far the story behind the picture. Thanks to social media there is another, new story behind the picture, worth to be told anyway. The day before yesterday, I’ve published the photo above with its capture on my Facebook page and profile. Unusually late due to a couple of days with a really tight schedule. Yesterday morning I woke to a start, because I forgot to reset the push messages to „silent mode“. I grabbed my smartphone at 5.30 a.m., looked at the message. It was Facebook – telling me something about 35 new fans, tons of likes on my page and »1350 people saw your post«. Call it sudden hyperventilation and an adrenaline push: What happened? Got hacked? Account compromised? As those apps don’t display certain functions and aspects of stats, I rushed to grab my notebook to have a closer look what might be going on.

Between boot up and closer look I had a quick coffee. Stats exploded in the meantime – about 10 minutes: »…2590 people…«. Well. Let’s check that unsusual activities. A closer look to stats, likes, shares – and a sudden insight: The photo above has caught special attention – and was shared on Sol Gabetta’s page on Facebook. During the day, stats showed an enormous response on the photograph, reporting more than 9000 reaches. And beyond all stats (hey! only numbers!) personal interaction with people was really phantastic: Likes and comments from all over the world – and lots of comments via personal messages also, which led into a number of interesting conversations. Stunning but not unexpected at all: All dialogues were mostly about life – and not about photography or even technical skills (which has been the trigger to start into conversations, though.)

These are the moments I really love social media: This great interaction with people is one of the constant sources of inspiration and creativity for me. Responses tell much about the emotional skills of photographs and their captions. And those conversations were … great. Nothing to add so far – except warm regards and »Thank you« to Sol Gabetta, who is not only a fascinating artist, but also a very kind, warmhearted person with a great sense of humor.
(And for those who are curious about the realities of life: Interaction via social media is not only flattery, but also results in interesting requests.)

Photo: ©HeikeRost.com 2009 – All rights reserved.

Neues bei »Image and View«

»Don’t listen to photography tips at all.« Anton Corbijn

Das Frühherbstwetter sorgt bei manchen Zeitgenossen für Frösteln, Schnupfen und merkwürdige Laune. Statt lange über Terminverschiebungen für Outdoor-Produktionen zu sinnieren, gibt’s lieber ein paar Neuigkeiten hier im Blog. Zeit für photographische Inspirationen: Die Playlist »ImageandView.com – Inspirations & Photographers« besteht aus über 100 interessanten Filmbeiträgen, Interviews und Porträts von, mit und über Photographen; handverlesen und für sehenswert befunden. Die Liste »ImageandView.com – Tutorials« bietet allerlei nützliche Videos von Bildbearbeitung bis Bildrecht.

»ImageandView.com« hat sich umgeschaut, ausprobiert und ausgiebig getestet. Mit Buchhändlern gesprochen, Erfahrungen ausgetauscht, an Ideen gedrechselt und sie wieder verworfen. Jetzt gibt’s das virtuelle Bücherregal – in Form eines Amazon-Affiliate-Shops, der fortlaufend ergänzt wird. Die Besonderheit der dort eingestellten Titel: Ob auf Messen geblättert, im eigenen Buchregal stehend, in Buchläden erstöbert, alle Bücher sind er-lesen. Buchstäblich. Und eine Empfehlung wert. Ein Einkauf im »Photography Bookshelf« trägt zur Finanzierung dieses Webzines bei. Dafür wird’s hier auch künftig kein Adsense, keine bezahlten Links oder Beiträge geben. Fortsetzung folgt.

»The media has a way of deleting the stories of people who society does not want to deal with. This is my humble way of putting these stories back in people’s faces — forming a real and active dialogue about these issues.« sagt der Photograph Ruddy Roye über seine rund 2000 Bilder, die er mittlerweile auf die Plattform Instagram hochgeladen hat. Eine sehenswerte Bilderserie – und eine großartige Geschichte über eine photographische Haltung, nachzulesen im Lens Blog der New York Times.

Im Nachklapp zum kürzlich komplett gefeuerten »Photo Staff« der Chicago Sun-Times: Eine beeindruckende Porträtserie der Kollegen gibt’s bei CNN World – »We are the Chicago Sun-Times Photography Department« erzählt in Bild und Text die „Geschichte hinter der Geschichte«. Klickempfehlung!

Mit einem Augenzwinkern zum Schluß: Warum Verabredungen mit Photographen meist, nun ja, gewöhnungsbedürftig sind, beschreibt der amüsante Beitrag »41 reasons why you shouldn’t date a photographer«. (via photographytalk.com)