A couple of months ago I found this book. “STRANGELY FAMILIAR” by Michal Chelbin. I hadn’t known of the photographer before but was immediately struck by the intensity of the portrait on the cover.

Michal Chelbin is a photographer from Israel, born in 1974. His work focuses on portraits of people, mostly artists and circus performers, many from Russia, many are teenagers in the transition from childhood to adult life.
“I try to create a seemingly private moment, one where they are not performing or on stage. The main themes in my work are not social or topical, but private and mythical;”

The book is a collection of very intense portraits, mostly in beautiful colors. What struck me was the intensity of the visual communication between photographer and the subjects. Very serious, very personal!

The book can be purchased here and is worth every Dollar spent!


Isn’t it fascinating how some images can take you into a totally different world? I attended a workshop with a number of fellow photographers in October and was overwhelmed by the variety of different approaches and styles.

The image being shown in the background was created by Michael Doerr, a photographer from Saarbruecken/Germany.

Alec Soth

October 28, 2008

During the past few months I have made book suggestions or shown videos portraying photographers that I like. Among them Richard Avedon, Sally Mann, Mary Ellen Mark and others.
The more I look at this I notice that there is a certain way of approach towards people that most if not all of these artists seem to share. Their images might be very different but they all show a direct interaction between the photographer and the subject. This is not about a “decisive moment”, capturing brief situations between people on the street… it is rather building up a personal relationship with the person then portraying this character in a setting that resembles this particular individual, the place etc.

Alec Soth is a contemporary photographer from Minneapolis, Minnesota and member of MAGNUM. In his approach and style he reminds me very much of William Eggleston and/or Joel Sternfeld. His images are well composed, in color, and almost surreal in their expression. The arrangements appear almost static, however, there is an intensity in the communication between the people portrayed and the camera that always leaves me fascinated, wanting to see more.

Check it out, he’s worth it!


Yesterday I found an advert on a German website: “Thomas Solecki is selling his Hasselblad 500CM. From now on he will only use his HOLGA for medium format film photography.”
FYI, a Hasselblad is an expensive medium format camera, THE classic of portrait photography. A HOLGA is a plastic camera from China that costs only a few dollars and has a hundred flaws like light leaks, out of focus images, vignetting, distortion etc etc etc… The images very much remind me of pinhole camera photographs. More HOLGA images you can see here.

THOMAS SOLECKI is a photographer from Germany’s western industrial region. He impressed me very much with his portraits of people from his hometwon BOCHUM, and with a series of HOLGA images from New York that was beautifully executed and presented.

So why would anyone exchange a superb tool like a Hasselblad for a camera that is famous for its technical flaws?
Maybe because imagery, i.e. art, is not about technical perfection but about imagination and expression. When Thomas spoke to us about his new York project he stated that he had intended to show New York in the way that he had imagined the city in his dreams. The HOLGA was the perfect choice for this. With its technical flaws it produced hazy images, full of bizarre light, colors, and distortions. Any “perfect tool” would not have been able to do that.

I am glad that there is still a considerably large community of photographers who do not follow the digital mainstream of seemingly technical perfect photography that too often only produce “more of the same” cliche. Images that we see every day on the covers of magazines: flat, boring exchangeable. I am glad that there is still some room for phantasy and individual creativity, in contrast to “picture control”, “photoshop” and other software that just takes every individuality out of our images.



October 22, 2008

At Singapore’s Far East Plaza Shopping Mall there is a small tattoo shop run by two of my wife’s old scuba diving buddies, “Chuck” and “Jaws”.
Jaws is a small sized, lean guy who looks like coming straight out of a Hong Kong gangster movie. Tattooed all over his body, he clearly stands out, even is this environment. He is quite a character, and I have seldom met someone with such a strong sense of confidence but also humbleness and humor.
Jaws is a friendly character, helpful (diving instructor) and generous. Talking to him, it becomes quite clear that he does not take crab from anyone, but at the same time he never seems to take himself too seriously. Besides, he’s a great tattoo artist.

Jaws got married last year and recently became father of a daughter.

My October Strip

October 20, 2008

For everyone who looks down on Children photographers…;-)

Shanghai Street

October 15, 2008

I spent five years in Shanghai/PRC, from 2003 – 2007. During that time, I worked on several projects to portrait what I saw and experienced.

What I particularly liked was to take my bulky Hasselblad 500CM and shoot street scenes. This one was taken in Xiangyang Park, former French Concession.