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Posts tagged ‘Egon Schiele’

#19 PIETER TEN HOOPEN, Stockholm (Sweden) Photographer

Quibdo, Colombia

Leica Liker is honored to have PIETER TEN HOOPEN, a Stockholm (Sweden) Photographer as our #19 guest. He is also our very first WORLD PRESS PHOTO Prize Recipient!!!

When I first saw Pieter Ten Hoopen’s photographs a year ago, I couldn’t get them out of my mind. The haunting images drove me to seek out the man; the persona; the eye, behind them.

haunt·ing [hawn-ting, hahn-] adjective 1. remaining in the consciousness; not quickly forgotten

Pieter’s images linger, like a drifting fog. But it’s not a blinding experience, not at all. Instead, he pulls us into his subject’s mysterious and private world, giving us an intimate view of a certain ‘state of grace’ in the human condition.

Quibdo, Colombia

Pieter talks of the importance of stories. And is committed to telling them. It’s what quantifies human existence in a way that validates who we are. When you look into his photographs, you can’t help but feel the depth of a life lived in his subjects –  old or young.

Quibdo, Colombia

Pieter rarely shoots to capture a moment in time, like many street photographers do. He’s not looking for the ‘decisive’ moment. Instead he works hard to give you a complex story of life. The characters he meets and photographs are introduced to us like old friends whether they are news photos or stories he worked on for months.

Through Pieter’s images, we are afforded a rare look into the fragility of humanity. He’s able to present vulnerabilities as a strength, rather than a weakness of the human spirit. And it takes a seasoned and caring eye to capture human dignity and hold it close to the subject’s heart.

Quibdo, Colombia

Here is my interview with PIETER TEN HOOPEN:

Nick Name: None that I am aware of. I am curious what it could be.
Currently living in: I split it between outside Stockholm- in the countryside and in the city of Stockholm.
Motto:  I never really thought about a motto to be honest.
Photographer since: Since 2002- 11 years.

Fargana valley, Uzbekistan/0508. Margilan

How did you get started in photojournalism? Did you start off in photojournalism first? First of all, I wouldn’t call myself a photojournalist. However, I studied photojournalism in Stockholm. I would consider myself a photographer or storyteller. Those are better labels. I do all kinds of photography. It’s a great challenge I enjoy.  I shoot different assignments from commercial to news. I never say no to any photography job. For me, the goal is to finance my books and projects, which are about storytelling.

Fargana valley, Uzbekistan/0508. The city of Fergana.

In the past, I worked for New York Times magazine, Time and some European media. Although, I like to work for Swedish clients as they pay better. Sadly, Swedish print media such as newspapers and magazines are  quitting much of the struggle. It’s a dying outlet for news and stories. Because of this, I had to find other ways to make money to supplement my goal. So I teach workshops, in all parts of the world and Sweden. I also shoot more commercial work for companies these days. As you see,  all different forms of photography. I’ve also been providing visual solutions for clients in both film (moving) as well as stills. At the moment I’ve been filming a lot, which I really enjoy.

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I am also a full member with Agence Vu in Paris. They represent me and resell my journalistic photo stories. They also sell my books but not my art prints. Those are sold through my homepage and some galleries in Sweden.

Profession/Job: Professional photographer

Websites: www.pietertenhoopen.com 

Organizations  or  Group:  Agence Vu

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What was the first camera you started with? I started with a compact camera whch a friend gave as a gift.

Favorite Camera & Lens: Nikon D800E, DX3. I tried all their cameras and lens models and my favorite lens is 35mm these days. Although before it was 28mm. I always work with prime lenses – no zooms. I’m one of the photographers Nikon is sponsoring. I also often use Yashica box cameras as well as the Widelux- which is very sensitive.

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Back-up Camera & Lens: Nikon D800E is also my back-up with the 35mm lens. I always work simple. I work with one set of cameras with back-up in hotel room.

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Favorite photography gadget: I am the most boring photographer. I only use whatever is necessary to get the job done. No more and no less.

In general, I am not interested in cameras.  Being a camera geek was always for the techno insane. But I am slowly appreciating the technology and camera equipment, thanks to Nikon’s sponsoring.

I want to say, photography is about a feeling in my body. That’s why I like to test shoot with many cameras to find that feeling.

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Favorite street food: We don’t have that much in Sweden. I avoid street food because I am picky. I prefer a good restaurant in the evening.

Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: Never when shooting. When editing- I listen to quite a lot of radio in the background – like public radio, news programs, music as well. A lot of trance- like quiet trancey music playing continually in the background all the time to create the right atmosphere.

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Favorite photo software: Photoshop C6. I work with RAW files. I generally don’t do much post work – just dodge and burn and correction of colors. We’re not allowed to do any post work when it comes to news and journalistic work. I work the same way on my own work. I am quite consequent that way. 

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3 Favorite Master Photographers: I am a big fan of Eugene Richards. He’s my all time darling. His story telling is fantastic. Otherwise, I don’t look that much to photographers anymore. I am more a movie guy. Movies are about effective storytelling. I watch a lot of slice-of-life movies. Not spectacular fantasy, just small little stories. I love to experience the feeling of small things.

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Deliverance was the last movie I watched recently. I have seen it time and time again. I think it is a fantastic movie. The tension is insane and horrible. I love to dig through archives and DVDs and watch them many times. They are super inspiring for my photography.

Balakot, Pakistan

3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers:  I have no specific persons whom I follow or see as favorite. I think I’m more interested in film and there I have plenty of favorites, too many to mention I guess.

Balakot, Pakistan

Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? I collect a few and exchange with fellow photographers. For instance, I have a print from Erika Larson, an American. I have a bad conscience, I still owe her a print of one of my images. She will get it. I also own a great print of the dead Swedish master of social photography, Christer Strömholm. Another print I have is by Erik Refner a Dane. I also have prints from a lot of Russian photographers. Russia has some exciting photographers. When I do my workshops there I swap with them.

Balakot, Pakistan

Color or Black and White? Nowadays I work 99% in color. I enjoy color way more. Just gives me more inspiration, more options to visualize – I love the relationship to the story. Black and white doesn’t inspire me anymore. If I do something nowadays in black and white then it is an emergency scenario because I can’t fix it in color. Color is more complex and challenging.

Balakot, Pakistan

Shoot Film or Digital ? I love to shoot both. When it comes to commercial clients it is digital. But my new book next year is all film. My Tokyo series was shot 50/50.  I would like to have all the options open. I enjoy film a lot. It still gives such a beautiful warm, imperfect feeling while the sharpness in the digital files has its own qualities.

If Film, what type of negative?  I always use Kodak Portra 400 or 120 iso Professional.

Balakot, Pakistan

Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? If I have the possibility to choose, then late afternoon when the light is soft. Although, I can work in all kinds of light. You’re not always able to choose.

How do you define photojournalism? It doesn’t matter how it is defined. I think the term was born in the US. It is very American.

Pieter Pak08Balakot

Why did you choose photojournalism and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? Storytelling. Simple as that. I chose this line of work because I enjoy communicating with my stories. It is like movies: there are so many ways of telling and making perfect stories. If you look at my “Tokyo stories” series you’ll see I love to work closely and intimately with people.  I like to tell the poetry of daily life.

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How do you choose a journalistic subject? Depends on the story. For instance in Tokyo, Jay is a friend of mine. So it was a natural. In the story, the others are friends of his. In other stories you might use ‘fixers’: people who are on the ground who can help arrange the meeting of people for you. In Montana, I just did a lot of door knocking. So it all depends. You have to seek out any opportunity that works with the situation. You have to be flexible.

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What motivates you to photograph in general? Pure storytelling and to pay my bills. I do my specific things, but I have to pay bills like anyone else. Sometimes it’s poetry and sometimes it is just a job.

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What motivates you to photograph difficult subjects? They may be difficult topics but they are important issues ‘of our time’ and important to communicate. We need to cover them because we need to make the atrocities against humanity or to nature official.

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Is Photography an obsession? It is not. I think if it is an obsession it tires you out. It has a strange vibe that makes it difficult to deliver high quality images. You have to be sharp and strong to work the material. If you work in top form, you are really focused. I enjoy it a lot. I am good at it. You have to be so good in the field in the thing you are doing. It would be like a soccer player walking with a soccer ball all the time. I need to be able to focus and relax. So I never carry a camera around when I am not working.

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Do you always develop a relationship with your subjects? By developing a relationship, are you trying to make yourself invisible to your subjects? In my line of work, you are very close to the subjects because you work in the same space. You photograph everything they do. It depends on the story you are working on but it’s clear you are part of their life during the period of day, week, or month. I am not invisible, but the aim of my presence is to make myself non-intrusive and not distracting to the subject.

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How do you approach a subject to develop such a relationship? You explain who you are.  In Montana, I spent over 10 years documenting. You must be very straight forward as to who you are and what you want to do. You tell them you want to tag along. If they don’t like it in the beginning then they won’t like it in the end.

Favorite city to shoot in: I love Tokyo – it is one of my favorite places to be. I love the Japanese people. It may sound strange but I feel relaxed in that city. I love to walk there. I love Istanbul too.

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What inspires your photography? I like paintings. It’s very important for what I do. I studied other photographers but I find studying paintings gives me much more. I always look at the Dutch maters because of the light, even if you don’t like the subject but the light is fantastic. I also love Egon Schiele’s work.

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Is there a philosophy, concept  or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? The aesthetic changes based on the mood and atmosphere of the story. Every story has its own character, temperament and feeling that determines what it will be. It is not a philosophy but a fact.

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When you shoot, do you come with preconceived ideas or a specific point of view of the subject, or do you let events unfold? When it comes to stories, I need a clear picture of what I am going to do there. It costs too much money to do these projects, so I can’t afford to have it not pay out. You can pitch it to a newspaper and magazine; you contact people; you have to do a lot of research; and the most important part of the story – you have to research the ins and outs of the topic you are working with. Once you’re on the ground you continue researching. This is where you have to let things unfold before you. You’ll often find that your previous research might have given you a specific view. But when you get there it is not what you envisioned and it turns out to be nothing like you expect it. You have to be able to recognize that and go with the flow and not stick to your initial point of view. Positive or negative.

PieterHOO_4116

The magic thing about doing stories is you constantly have to adapt to a new situation. If you go into the story with a specific vision and force it, you will be bored. That’s not saying it’s not frustrating when it first happens when things don’t go the way you envision it to go. But it’s liberating when it happens because you have to adapt. It is part of the fun.

Mineral invest

Can you elaborate how you develop a complete series for the media like New York Times? Is it any different when you develop a book? The two are distinctly different. The photographic material for news must fit to the text the reporter is writing. There are specific details you have to communicate. When it comes to a book, then it is a personal choice and very emotional.

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What do you look for in a good photograph by others? I don’t look that much for aesthetics. I look for emotions in other people’s work, a good body of work. I want to be touched, either positive or negative. Most importantly, it must communicate it successfully.

PieterHOO_6660

What do you look for in a good photograph by you? I don’t think that much in single images, I think in a series. A series is difficult when it comes to my feelings. It has to do something to me. It has to trigger me in some way. It has to create curiosity, awareness, beauty and poetry. It must be emotionally compelling. I see movies in the same way as my photos – you take the viewer into this little trip. The art is to keep people involved in the whole trip – otherwise they are not good enough.

M23

How do you go about shooting a photograph?  I tried for many years to blend in and it doesn’t work. I have a big camera and I am quite tall. I gave up that game. Now I just work. I don’t care about other things, I just focus on what I have to do.

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Can you describe the entire process of photographing these photos, from preparation to when you pressed the shutter button?

From the series: Kitezh in Russia. This is a story about my search of the invisible city of Kitezh from an old Russian myth about sacred waters. I never found it so I decided to take pictures of the people I came upon in my search in Vladimirskoe. I used only the late afternoon and evening light during the work on this series. I love to continue working this way. The light becomes like silk helping to create a lovely atmosphere in which to shoot. The story won the First Prize in the 2007 World Press Photo Daily Life Stories.

Kitezh

Kitezh

Nikolaij

Kitezh

Vladimirskoe

From the series: Stockholm- Book. This picture was taken during the time I worked on my Stockholm book. A dear friend called me and told me his father had died of cancer and wondered if I could photograph them saying their farewell. I remember this moment clearly as it was very peaceful.  The family was close as they gathered during this moment of grief. Before it was normal in our culture to photograph family members who had died. But I think this has changed in the modern society where we don’t want to be reminded. For me personally, this was a very intimate situation and moment to be part of.

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From the series for New York Times Magazine: ER Kabul This is a picture taken in a war hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. I was doing a story for the New York Times Magazine about this hospital. I spent a long time in Afghansitan working on different stories but this one in particular was important to me. We worked most of the time in the emergency room and did follow-ups once the patients were doing there rehabilitation. Most of the men and women who come here are injured by mines or bullets. (see photos below) This young man was badly injured and he died some days after this image was taken because of complications. Before he came to the Emergency war hospital he was mistreated and wrongly diagnosed in other hospitals. So the damage was to very bad when he arrived.

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ER Kabul: Man with pink gloves I shot this during the same assignment for the New York Times Magazine as mentioned above. The man works for the Italian war hospital emergency. One of the biggest suicide attacks in Kabul in years killed 80 and injured hundreds of people. The injured and the dead were all driven to this entrance at the hospital. There were literally lots of body parts coming in.  The man in the gloves is gathering the body parts which were laying on the street.

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I cannot remember really what I was thinking during this shoot. When you come upon a day like this you work and work harder just so you can cover (shoot) it all. This goes for mentally and physically too. The only thing I remember was a brain laying on the street,  an image I shot after this one. It was a child’s brain which was laying in perfect shape on the street. The moment I saw this, it hit me how horrible it was. I could not really let go of the image and thought of it for quite some time. Still today I think back to this moment often. Many children died this day after this big explosion resulting in many lost body parts. Most are injured for the rest of there lives.

Pieter Kabul24ER

Prostitutes in Damascus The story is about Iraki women being forced into prostitution in order to earn money to support their children. It was a longer reportage and all these women had lost their husbands during the war in Irak. And because of the fact they can’t show a death certificate they are not entitled to get any financial support from the government.

Prostitution in Syria

The story was mostly shot in the area where Irakis were displaced during the war. Most of the women suffered from physical and mental problems because of the work they do. Most of them had been badly beaten up by their customers… I had problems to photograph the women but it was made more problematic because it was a big project to gather all the women to be able to make it work.

Prostitution of Iraqi women in Syria

The story was published in Swedish media and was shot for a TV show which was assigned by the EU. After the publication I was called both from Damascus and from the Syrian Embassy in Stockholm. I was told that I’m not welcome in Syria anymore. The reason for this was not that I had shown a sensitive or forbidden topic but the fact that the newspaper which published the work was pro Israel –  so they told me. This is not true. It was published in one of Sweden’s most respected and best newspapers.

Pieter13Syria

How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good? You have to ask what is the story about. You come home to 1000’s of raw files. You reduce it to 200, 100. When you are done, you start over again to see if you made the right decision. Books take weeks or months for me.

Prostitution of Iraqi women in Syria

Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: 1) Everything is about the light- choose your light. It is extremely important. 2) Feel the place, feel the topic. 3) You need a full stomach. It’s hard to work with an empty stomach.

Pieter Tokyo071

Best single advice on how to improve your work: Just shoot. Like any other sport, if you want to be good, you have to practice. It will come – you need to spend time with raw material- you need to know what you are shooting. Spend time with your images, in a meditative way. Go through your work in order to understand your work to see what you are doing right or wrong. I do a lot of workshops and teaching. So many students spend a half day with their work and think that’s enough. You have to show respect to the week or month of photography.

Pieter Tokyo401

Best single advice on how to edit your work: You have to spend time with your raw material to be able to undertand what is in front of you. Selection is about making large edits. It becomes smaller every time until you reach the storyline.

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Best single advice for someone who wants to get into photojournalism: Well, you have to enjoy what you are doing. You don’t have to be a professional. The joy of the work is extremely important. Don’t go for the quick fix. It is a marathon. Breathe. Having a long breath is what counts.

What’s the best moment in your photography career? I have no idea. Yet to come I hope!

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What’s the worst moment in your photography career? Shooting in misery about misery. It doesn’t make you happy- it has its impact on you. It makes you grow old so you have to be aware.

Once, I had an assignment in Cairo after a man in California made a movie that was seen as against the Prophet Mohammed. I was shooting people on the streets protesting. Some guys took my iPhone which can happen. They were hooligans going crazy and attacking journalists. Religious demonstrations are normally peaceful, but it’s stuff like hooligans that create the large headlines dominating the protests at Tahrir Square. I have to say, journalists are experiencing more and more problems there.  It’s not a good thing for freedom of press in Egypt.  But a job is a job. I rarely do short news assignments anymore. I normally do long projects, so there is a balance between the stories.

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What projects are you working on? A book on Hungry Horse, Montana  titled “Hungry Horse”- next year. I have been working on it for 10 years with 1-2 trips a year.

What’s your next assignment? Will be working in northern Kaukasus this autum but a short trip will include Stockholm. It’s been a busy year. But I would love to work more at home.

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Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to photography? I am already where I want to be – I do my books and projects. I would love to produce more books. – you can’t make a living on photo books, you need commercial assignments. They normally cost you money. It’s a love.

Are there exhibitions planned in the future? I will show my Hungry Horse book in New York and also the multimedia work produced in cooperation with Mediastorm in NY.

Kitezh

You can view Pieter’s WORLD PRESS PHOTO prize winning entries below:

WPP 2007

WPP 2009 -1

WPP 2009 -2

Pieter teaches workshops. You can check them out here from time to time.

As of posting, Pieter’s short film KITEZH – VLADIMIRSKOE, was accepted into competition at the Stockholm Film Festival. Congratulations Pieter!

Leica Liker thanks Pieter for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. We look forward to checking in with him in the future.

You can check out Pieter’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear” here.

This is Pieter’s self portrait.

Pieter SelfPTH_01

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# 8 MARTIN MOLINERO, Barcelona Street Photographer

Leica Liker is honored to have Martin Molinero, a Barcelona (Spain) Street Photographer as our #8 guest.

When I saw Martin’s photographs in a small Flickr group called the ‘Small Growers Street Association’, my first reaction was,’ wow,  so beautiful’.  I immediately had to find out more about this photographer and his work. I didn’t know I was in for a treat when I saw his other photographs. They overwhelmed me by their deep reverence for each moment of life he captured.

Martin’s photos are contemplative and temporal in nature.  Although the street moments are fleeting, you get the sense that many have been thoughtfully and carefully captured because he’s looking for something deeper.

Martin talks about reading between the lines of life: A kind of subtext behind the unfolding action. The result is often small but fragile and vulnerable moments of people’s lives that somehow touch you.

Through his eyes, people’s loneliness, fragility, surprise, concerns and whatever feeling they are experiencing at the moment, no longer disappear into oblivion. Instead, they are the protagonist in a play about them. Maybe it’s because Martin has experienced the ups and downs of life himself – giving him the great advantage to recognize people’s vulnerablilities without ever thinking about it.

What I admire most of all is how Martin quietly and eloquently shares that moment with his subjects. His empathy for others comes through, making the images indelible.

Here’s my interview with MARTIN MOLINERO:

Nick Name: Enantiodromos.

Does Enantiodromos mean “many contradicting characteristics”? Yes, sort of. “Enantiodromia” (from Greek: ἐνάντιος, enantios, opposite + δρόμος, dromos, running course) is a psychological principle introduced by psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (who took it from Heraclitus’ philosophy). It’s a sort of compensation between the conscious life and the unconscious life. It’s like an homeostasis: any excess is compensated by the system in order to restore balance. I like to think that, at a certain point, chaos becomes order and vice versa! In some way, when you want too much of something, you will get the contrary. I like this concept for photography.

Currently living in: A small town outside of Barcelona, Spain.
Motto: I don¹t have one.

Street Photographer since: Around 1996. Back then I began shooting analog in Buenos Aires, Argentina, not knowing that what I was doing had indeed a name. I just walked a lot with my old rusty Canon AE-1 and a 50mm lens, taking snapshots and enjoying the darkroom process.

Then came the Argentine economic crisis (1999-2002), which wrecked the whole thing. In 2003 I moved to Barcelona, Spain. I abandoned my photographic gear (among other things) in Buenos Aires, where I never returned, and started a new Life in Spain. I always longed to return to photography, but was always too busy struggling to survive to have any time to spare for my economically unproductive photography walks.

In 2010 my wife gave me a Nikon D90 as birthday gift and since then I’ve been back in the game.

Profession/Job: Book editor for publishing company.
Websites: www.enantiodromia.es
Organizations or Group: Calle 35 and Street Photographers

Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Not favorite, it’s just what I have. A Nikon D90; a Tokina AT-X 17 mm 3.5 and a Nikon 18-105 mm lenses.
Back-up Street Camera & Lens:  I don’t have one.
Favorite photography gadget: I don’t have one.
Favorite street food: It’s better to be light. I think there is an English expression: “being light on your feet”. Occasionally I stop to rest a little and take a coffee.

Do you listen to music while shooting? No, it would distract me. Once, I almost got hit by a car while crossing the street to take a picture. I think that listening to music would make my “sightwalks” more dangerous.
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: Not anymore now. Back in the 1990’s I listened mostly to jazz (Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, etc.) and Argentinian musician Luis Alberto Spinetta (sadly died a few months ago) while working in my darkroom.
Favorite photo software: Not my favorite. I currently use Photoshop but I would like to try out Lightroom, which appears to be more useful.


3 Favorite Master Photographers: I could say Garry Winogrand, Joel Meyerowitz and Robert Frank; But why not Lee Friedlander, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliott Erwitt or say, Saul Leiter, William Eggleston and Tony Ray-Jones?
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: It’s the same thing. Maybe I could say Alex Webb, Trent Parke and Jeff Jacobson, or Georgui Pinkhassov, Cristóbal Hara and Richard Kalvar, or the guys of In-Public. I think I can learn different things from all of them.
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? It’s a shame, but none.

Color or Black and White? Lately, I’ve been shooting color. When I use to shoot film I only shot in black and white, because printing color is very tricky, especially controlling temperatures. I wanted to develop all my work then.

When I started to shoot digital I still “saw” everything in black and white. But alas, the sensor gave me color, so I became used to seeing in that way.

Shoot Film or Digital ? Now I shoot digital. Film is very expensive and time consuming. I just can’t afford it. I would love to shoot film again, it’s a completely different experience. Perhaps in the future.
What are the main differences between film and digital? I would prefer to shoot film. I like the tangible, physical aspect of film. But it’s all about time and money.
If Film, what type of negative? Back in the 1990’s I used Ilford HP5 and FP4.
Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? I prefer early in the morning and late in the afternoon. But I don’t have the luxury to determine in advancewhen I will have some spare time to shoot. So, I take what ever opportunity comes my way regardless of the weather.

How do you define street photography? I think it’s best defined by Nick Turpin – “… ‘Street Photography’ is just ‘Photography’ in its simplest form…” For a full explanation check it out here.

Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? I think it wasn’t a choice. I was introduced to photography by my uncle when I was 17 years old. He taught me the technical principles and sparkled my interest in photography as a medium for both self expression and self-knowledge. On the other hand, I always loved to walk, and in that time I took long walks in Buenos Aires, I mean really long, like 20 or 30 kilometers. So the combination of photography and walking was very natural.

What motivates you to photograph the streets? Because of my editorial work, I spend many hours sitting at my desk, reading. I guess at some level, walking and watching is a good complement or compensation to sitting and reading. Besides, I live in a very small town, almost a hamlet about 100 km outside of Barcelona. The Llobregat River flows just below my window. There are ducks and swallows, poplars and oaks…To drive occasionally to Barcelona’s chaos is a perfect way to break the “routine” of what I see every day, and to confirm and renew the enjoyment of living in such a beautiful place.

Is Street Photography an obsession? I prefer it not be but maybe yes.

Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group?  I shoot alone.
Are you an invisible photographer or visible? I would like to be invisible.
Favorite street photography city: I love Barcelona. I shot for three days in London and it was great. I think New York must be incredible. I wish I could visit there someday.


What inspires your photography? I don’t know. Probably the great photographers I admire inspire me in a deep way. In fact, everything we read, enjoy, fear and love somehow, at some level, influence the way we see. In that respect, Jung, Rilke, Rimbaud, Proust, Kafka, Tarkovski, Faulkner, Goya, Coltrane, Van Gogh, Brancusi, Palestrina, Jaco Pastorius, Paul Celan, Georges Perec, Juan José Saer and, say, Julio Cortázar wouldn’t be more significant than bicycling, chocolate, football (soccer), olive oil or “yerba mate” (traditional South American infusion), in affecting the way I shoot.

Is there a philosophy, concept  or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? Not consciously. I think there is no concept or aesthetic, with regard to the form. But I do believe there is something when you ask me about content. For instance, I like to find interactions between people, and between people and things. Photography gives me the chance to read these interactions in a certain contemplative manner. In some way I try to understand what the hell I’m doing a hundred of kilometres away from my home, holding a camera and walking aimlessly. And the way to find out is through the pictures, with hindsight of course.

What kind of style would you describe your photos? The light in Barcelona is strong. Combine it with shooting digital and the result is strong shadows. But when I shot film I tended to go out specifically when it was overcast because there is no shadow. So it forced me to think about composition and forms.

How do you compose a shot?  Most of the time I don’t have time to compose. It’s all about reflex. Things are happening so fast it’s difficult to compose. But when editing, I choose the takes that works compositionally in some way. If it’s possible, sometimes I shoot many shots of the same thing. So it’s not a conscious decision to shoot it one way or another. It’s more a reaction.

What do you look for in a good photograph?  I don’t look for anything in particular, although I’m usually drawn by good light. Chance is crucial in street photography and you can’t pursue chance. In some way, street photography is about failure. It’s about how you endure constant failure. How can you spend so much time walking aimlessly with a camera? How can you go out to shoot knowing that in all probability you will be back home, after a whole day walking and shooting, with nothing, not a single photo?

I don’t look for anything in particular because, when chance and surprise is part of the equation, then as a consequence, you don’t have any control. If you look for something you will probably not find it and you will miss what appears, what reveals itself. Or, even worse, if you look for something you will find it, and it will be only what you already had in your mind. One thing that I love about this kind of photography is, that when it works (and it almost never works), you get much more than what you put in.

“It is the photo that takes you; one must not take photos”, said Cartier-Bresson.
“I don’t press the shutter. The image does”, said Arbus.
“Good photographs get made despite, not because”, said Garry Winogrand.
Asked how he chose the things he photographed, Paul Strand replied: “I don’t. They choose me”. I think that is a clever approach to photography. So, what do I look for in a good photograph? I don’t know until it appears. In Barthes’ words: until it, “pricks” me.

How do you go about shooting a street photograph?  I know some quarters of Barcelona pretty well. I know in which hour the light will be good in certain places. I walk in those areas to see what happens. There is a wonderful place in Barcelona called La Boqueria, a small place with beautiful light. I often stay there for about 15 minutes and then move on.  So in that sense, I tend to stay for a while in places with good light, and walk back and forth to see what unfolds. But lately, I prefer to walk constantly, taking shots as I go.

How do you go about shooting a street photograph?  I know Barcelona pretty well. I know in which hour the light will be good in certain places. I walk in those areas to see what happens. There is a wonderful place in Barcelona called La Boceria, a small place with beautiful light. I often stay there for about 15 minutes and then move on.  So in that sense, I tend to stay for a while in places with good light, and walk back and forth to see what unfolds. But lately, I prefer to walk constantly, taking shots as I go.


How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good? In most cases I know it’s a bad shot. It’s not common to see a good shot. So when there is a good one out of a thousand, you notice it.
Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Just one: enjoy the walk.

Best single advice on how to improve your work: Be patient? Don’t give up? Try new approaches? I don’t know. I’m still struggling to improve my work, how could I give any advice to others?
Best single advice on how to edit your work: I think you must be somehow detached from your emotional connection with the picture. I have the invaluable help of my wife. Her detailed analysis and thoughtful critiques help me to be detached while I edit.
Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Get a good pair of shoes?

What’s the best moment in your street photography career? I wouldn’t say I have a street photography career. What would that be? I’m very glad to have been selected as a finalist in the 2011 London Street Photography Festival. That showed me that I was going in the right way. I’m very happy to be part of Calle 35, a Barcelona based street photography collective, and Street Photographers, an international collective which has recently launched a E-book at Blurb Books: Street Photographers.

What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? I really haven’t had even one single bad moment. Sometimes people get upset or ask me to explain what I am doing, but nothing bad at all.

What projects are you working on? That’s a tough question, I’m still asking myself that. Maybe something will appear by itself soon?

Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? I will be fortunate if I still have the time to go out to shoot. I would like to have developed a consistent way of seeing. I would like to be able to articulate the pictures in a strong, solid and coherent discourse.

Are there other exhibitions planned in the future? Alongside my fellows at Calle 35, we will exhibit our work at the Biennal Xavier Miserachs 2012 from September 15th to October 14th in the City of Parafrugell here in Spain. Everyone is welcome!

Leica Liker thanks Martin for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. :-)We look forward to checking in on him in the future.

You can check out Martin’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear here”.

This is Martin’s self portrait. He likes the mystery of life.

# 6 SIEGFRIED HANSEN, Hamburg Street Photographer


Leica Liker is honored to have Siegfried Hansen, a Hamburg Street Photographer as our #6 guest.

Syn·chro·nic·i·ty
“an apparently meaningful coincidence in time of two or more similar or identical events that are casually unrelated” (dictionary.com)

When I came across Siegfried’s work in Flickr, the first thought that came to my mind was the word “synchronicity”. It’s a word that Swiss psychologist Carl Jung coined to describe what he called “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” (Wikipedia) I love to page through his images to vicariously experience these serendipitous moments.

Capturing synchronicity is really difficult. It requires an acute awareness of the environment. But to capture it more than once comes only with a lot of experience. After 10 years of shooting, Siegfried has trained himself such that it’s wired into his psyche. Combine this and his art influences and you see what Siegfried sees. He even has a term for the resulting images: “expected coincidence”.

So much of street photography is about the individual (sometimes forgotten) experience within a community or environment. Perhaps, even the shared moment in a party or a gathering. But many of Siegfried’s photographs celebrate our connection to someone else or thing, like a grain of sand touching another grain of sand on a beach. Which in turn exists on our planet floating in a vast universe. He often reminds us of being a part of something greater in our most mundane moments.

I know Siegfried doesn’t think about these things when he’s shooting and he chuckles when people read deep into his photos. He’s even skeptical. Maybe it’s because of his upbringing in the small country town of Meldorf in northern Germany. But he presents a piece of art. And good art provokes and asks questions.

Here’s my interview with SIEGFRIED HANSEN.

Nick Name: Siggi
Currently living in: Hamburg, Germany
Motto: I am always curious, what will happen around the next corner.
Profession/Job: I have a regular job but it has nothing to do with my photographic life.

Street Photographer since: 2002.
Website: www.siegfried-hansen.de
Organizations or Groups: Seconds 2 Real, Street Photographers, and Public-life


Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Digital: At the moment a Fuji X100; Film: Leica CL with Leitz Wetzlar Summicron 1:2/40mm Lens
Favorite Back up camera: I don’t have one but if my main camera breaks, I’ll buy a new one.
Favorite photography gadget: None
Favorite street food: When I stop for a break, I like to drink a cappuccino.


Do you listen to music while shooting? Never
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: I like to edit in the quiet of my space.
Favorite photo software: Photoshop Elements 2

3 Favorite Master Photographers: Ernst Haas, Saul Leiter and Ray K. Metzker
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: Alex Webb, Jesse Marlow, Trent Parke
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? I don’t own any prints. I prefer books.


Color or Black and White? Both
Shoot Film or Digital? I shoot mainly digital because I can process immediately. I do shoot film occasionally but there is too much effort to get the film processed. I have 40 film rolls, which I shot with my Leica CL and I have yet to develop them. I understand why Garry Winogrand had thousands of rolls of film unprocessed. The process is more interesting.

Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? If you live in Hamburg, any time and place is fine. I’ll go outside in any weather. But, I love snow because verything looks new especially when sunlight breaks through the clouds. Red looks like deep red in snow. If I had to choose, I mostly like the sun because of the dark shadows. Light is like a switch. It adds another layer like shadows.

Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? It was a lucky circumstance that I found my way to “street photography”. About 10 years ago, I was a “typical” snap shot photographer. I use to shoot a lot of sunsets with my Minolta X300 in both black and white and color. But I wasn’t really engaged in photography. Then I visited an exhibition of André Kertész and his pictures completely changed my way of looking at my environment. Since that day in 2002, wherever I go, I carry my camera with me so I can catch all the moments I see and like.

What motivates you to photograph the streets? The unbelievable great variety of possibilities and the idea, that any given moment, something unusual can happen.
Is Street Photography an obsession? Yes, I am guilty, it is an obsession. 🙂
Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? Alone.
Favorite street photography city: I live in Hamburg and it is the city where I take most of my photographs. But I also travel often to London, Paris and other cities as well to get new inspirations.

What inspires your photography? I love painters like Lyonel Feininger and Egon Schiele, two major figurative painters in German Expressionism of the twentieth century. I like the abstract ideas that Feininger presents in his paintings and the amazing colors and views of people of Schiele’s work. I also love the “Bauhaus” style, especially Maholy Nagy’s work. Feininger was also part of the Bauhaus movement.


Is there a philosophy or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? I don’t consciously apply any philosophy to my photographs when I go out shooting. But in the back of my mind I’m sure I am influenced by what inspires me. For instance the Bauhaus philosophy of experimenting with new views of ordinary things that have clear structures. If you were to find an equivalent design today, then you can look at Apple or Braun products. When you inspect them, they have a clear concept and design structure. The clarity of their concept is their brand. One thing is for sure, I try to transform our 3D environment into 2D via layering.

What do you look for in a good photograph by others? This is hard to explain. Input, which in general inspires, but also helps me to further develop my work and ideas. I try to be open-minded. I often visit exhibitions and look into many good photographers’ portfolios. Sometimes I see small things in a photo that inspires me to try a new angle or view something in a different way.


How do you go about shooting a street photograph?
When I go out to shoot, I don’t think about anything. I just go with the flow. Your mind needs to be free. I simply see what looks right to me and not think too much about it. So when I make a photo I just shoot it, then move on. I don’t stand around to analyze the scene or shoot from different angles. I usually have a feeling, I know it’s nice and I shoot it. I may capture a second one but then that’s it. I leave the analyzing until I go home and see if the shot worked.

Over the years, I learned to recognize the special moment or lines and space around me. I also learned to act immediately using available lines or graphic I see as the foreground and background. Then I wait for the situation to reveal itself. I call it “the expected coincidence.” Most of the time nothing happens, but you have to be patient and impassioned. So I often walk the same routes in my hometown, Hamburg, Germany. After 10 years I still see something new every time. Mostly small things, but the small things are often the difficult things.

I also try to arrange several layers in my photographs, the more the better. From my point of view, compositions with more than one layer are more interesting. Sometimes I like to compare things like a double pair, to make the pictures more interesting.

After so many years of being a street-photographer my eyes are well trained to catch situations, lines and graphics, in a fraction of a second, that help me make the compositions I envision. I simply love it!

Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Learn from Master photographers; Vacation in big cities; Always keep your eyes and mind open. One more thing: keep shooting. When I shoot, I may not capture the big one all the time but I shoot many small ones to train myself to recognize the big one.

Best single advice on how to edit or improve your work. When you edit images it is the same as shooting pictures. You see the results of the day and some pictures are better than others. Some might even be top. But keep in mind, you just don’t see a good picture every time. And you don’t have to. It’s all about selecting the good ones. Quality over quantity.

Another thing I do. I often make small (13x18cm including 1cm border) prints of my favorite photos from Photoshop. Later on, when I look at them again and again, I print the ones I like most in a larger size (30x45cm) and hang them up in my apartment. And if I still like them after 3 weeks, then I’m satisfied and happy.

Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Get inspired by Master photographs.
What’s the best moment in your street photography career? To participate in the “Street Photography Now” book (Thames and Hudson)
What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? Each time when the battery of my camera is empty or my memory card is full.

What projects are you working on? There are many, but at the moment I’m not ready to talk about them. However on my homepage, you can check out the section “projects”, where you can see some photos of ongoing long-term projects. Some of the projects have been going on for 10 years.

Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? I would be lucky if I could still walk around, take good pictures, and have wonderful feelings about my walk. And I would be happy, if a lot of people like my style of art.

Are there exhibitions planned in the future? Yes, a solo exhibition at the end of August 2012 here in Hamburg, Germany, at the Gallery Kunst-Nah.

Leica Liker thanks Siegfried for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. :-)We look forward to checking in on him in the future.

You can check out Siegfried’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear here”.

This is Siegfried’s self portrait.

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