Vasil Kiryienka
Marco Pinotti
Bradley Wiggins

David Millar

Richie Porte
Tony Martin

More images at my facebook page!

Inge Morath: FIRST COLOR

It’ s been a while since I recommended a book. It’s a shame because I had made this a monthly habit and I was always proud of the quality of the books I had in my blog. However, I have become more and more bored with what’s in the market. Actually it might even be a certain frustration with photography in general. For me photography means images of people. I like to look at landscapes and architecture, too, but for my own work I am mostly focused on portraits. This is what I am most fascinated in: human characters, behavior, emotions etc. Once I read something like: “A good portrait is when you manage to get someone interested in the image of a person he/she does not know”. So that’s what I am after: real people, real characters, real emotions, real life!

Frustratingly (for me): Nowadays most photography is not about real people anymore but about certain prototypes, stereotypes, ideals of beauty, whatever. Sometimes I have the impression that fashion photography has taken over and it’s all about creating artificial arrangements, and the people photographed play a certain role, something which has very little or nothing to do what they really are. I am looking at hundreds of images every week. When you do this you start seeing patterns, trends, styles that start repeating themselves. So, after the 1000th half (or completely) naked girl standing at a window with a melancholic look on her face (or alternatively lying on a bed), you start getting really really bored! The same applies to certain photo shop techniques, over-saturation/desaturation, high contrast, whatever. In our world of fashion, advertising, and model culture, straight forward portrait photography that tries to actually ‘portrait’ the subject, showing the inner self, literally seems to be “out of fashion”.

So today when I was walking into my favorite photo art bookshop in Singapore, I was positively surprised to see a new edition of Inge Morath’s work, in color.

For people who don’t know: Inge Morath was one of the first members of MAGNUM photo agency and is mostly famous for her black and white portraits of actors and other celebrities in the 1950s and 1960s. She belongs to that ‘leica generation’ of photo journalists who shaped our view of that era. The fact that she was married to Arthur Miller makes her even more interesting. So while I used to know her mainly for her b/w portrait work, this volume is actually a collection of color photographs she took during travels to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and America. The images are mostly documentary and show people in their daily life, on the street, during festivals etc.

What attracted me to this book was

1. The colors. This book is A DREAM IN KODACHROME! Beautiful colors in the subtle tones that made this film so popular and typical for the 1950s – 1970s.

2. There s nothing pretentious about these images. They show real people in their real life. It’s like a window into an era that we only know in black and white and from old Hollywood movies.

I was amazed about the quality of the photographs, their sharpness and truthfulness of the colors. MAGNUM obviously did a good job in storing the negatives. There is no yellow or red touch to the pictures. They look as if they were taken yesterday which makes the experience even more fascinating and a joy to look at. And there is nothing “old” about the imaging, even though they are +50 years old. I am also not saying that back then was the “real” photography and today everything is fake. But apart from mainly Eastern European (especially Russian) photographers I find much of the new digital stuff very pretentious, commercial, more like action art than photography, and too much fashion orientated. Many portraits show stereotypes but not real characters I can identify myself with. Translating this into movies, I am afraid I am not the “Avatar” type but rather into character drama. Maybe I am getting older, too 😉

As so many books I have recommended, this is on sales and be purchased here! The volume is beautifully published by MAGNUMSteidl and printed on paper that does the images the justice they deserve.

Discovering Berlin!

September 11, 2009

Pierre Vau Tours
Have you ever been to Berlin, Germany’s capital? If not, you have missed out a lot. Berlin is not only in the heart of Europe and the connection point between Eastern and western Europe (along with Vienna); it is also one of the hottest and most trendy places to be. Berlin has its distinctive style, sub culture and fashion which stand clearly out from mainstream Europe.
Along with that, Berlin offers a lot in terms of Architecture, Historical Places, Nature etc etc etc. This is the place where the cold war adversaries met. Traces of that can still be found everywhere, including parts of the Berlin Wall and other historical sites of that period.
Pierre 04
For the photographer Berlin offers numerous opportunities for street photography, people photography, architecture etc. etc. etc.. But where to start and where to go? How do you make the best out of your time and manage to explore a place that has so much to offer?
Pierre 03

The Berlin photographer Pierre Vau offers the chance to explore and discover Berlin in a photographic way. “Capital Colors” is a project that offers custom tailored tours through Berlin. Pierre and his partner Anja Meier will take you through Berlin, they will show you places that you would not have found yourself, angles and perspectives that go far beyond the usual tourist guide tour, and this will be complemented with photo workshops and technical help. In the end you will take home a self made (linen bound) book about Berlin that clearly stands out from the usual pile of snaps!

From the website:
Upon my photographic expedition, I would like to:
– Get to know Berlin better
– Discover places off the beaten path which most visitors to Berlin would never see
– Within the parameters of a city tour, take a photographic course in analog or digital photography
– Help me to explore the full potential of my camera equipment
– Improve my photographic skills
– Find motifs which others don?t find
– Gain skills in the Photoshop photo editing program
– Discuss my photos with experienced photographers in the workshop
– Spend my Berlin stay more effectively and pleasantly thanks to optimal preparation
– Have contact with people who know the nightlife scene and are contemporary witnesses to Berlin?s eventful history
– Also receive guided architectural or art tours when participating in a photo safari
– Logically develop a photographic theme for myself, but I need suggestions for this and the opportunity to realize this
– Have a personal coffee table book created which contains my own photos

Here are some more examples of Pierre Vaus’s Berlin photography:
Pierre 01
Pierre 02

Anyone in Asa who is interested in traveling to Berlin can also contact me and I will help with the set up. I don’t charge a cent!

All images shown here are by Pierre Vau.

Hong Kong

September 10, 2009

Kowloon, May 2009:
Holga in HK 01
This is a tribute to Hong Kong.
I have been to almost every Asian capital, including Singapore, Beijing, Bangkok, Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Phnom Penh, Manila, Kuala Lumpur. I have also travelled cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Dalian and many others. The only place I have never been to is South Asia, i.e. India.
For me, Hong Kong is the most beautiful metropolis in Asia and always worth a visit!

Hong Kong has almost everything of everything. In many aspects, it’s more (traditional) Chinese than most places in China, but also has a large Asian International community which makes it very cosmopolitan and sophisticated. Hong Kong also has a unique style of architecture, basically a cluster of super modern skyscrapers, run down high rise flats, street markets, shopping malls, huge advertising spaces, and most of all people, people people…!
Set into mountains over the sea, Hong Kong also has the perfect combination of “shanshui” (mountains & water) which is essential for the harmony of the Chinese “fengshui” (wind & water). Watching the skyline beneath the hills and across Hong Kong Bay from Kowloon, it’s an amazing sight!

Hong Kong offers plenty of photographic opportunities. The density of buildings and the sheer number of people is challenging, though. The above shot was taken with a HOLGA toy camera, using Kodak Portra 400VC film.

speechless

July 8, 2009

Taipei, June 2009:
Taipei Bye Bye
Sometimes we go to a place and it leaves absolutely no impression. This is what happened to me when I went to Taipei/Taiwan in May and in June 2009. On each trip I spent a few days in Taiwan’s capital. Everytime I brought my Leica in order to catch some of the things that would catch my imagination.

It just did not happen. My hotel was in a suburb of Taipei. There wasn’t anything that seemed to be particularly typical Taiwanese. Not even typical Chinese to my eyes. Taipei seemed to be a accumulation of characterless buildings and streets. Nothing that caught my eye, nothing that I found at least a little inspiring. To me Taipei looked like a mixture of Tokyo, Seoul, and Kuala Lumpur, neither here nor there. After two fruitless trips I just took a picture of my taxi driver. That’s it!

I am sure this is not fair and I welcome every Taiwanese to tell me where the interesting spots are, with character and atmosphere, typical Taiwanese. I am sure they are there, I just couldn’t find them… ;-o

the square and the sea

January 23, 2009

weekend-01
This is a picture taken on a Malaysian beach in October 2008 where we spent a long weekend scuba diving. I was trying out the potential of my new HOLGA and was amazed by the amount of nice motives that you can find on a beach. And the light was just beautiful.

This is also another example of the square as such a simple but perfect frame for composition. I am always struggling with rectangles, especially the 3:2 ration that is standard on a 35mm camera. How do you fill a longish wide rectangle, making use of the whole length? Not easy!
With the square I never have problems. It just comes naturally, like a natural way of putting things in place. Maybe that’s why the Old Chinese used to see the world as a square?

Chinatown

November 17, 2008

chinatown-01

This was taken in Singapore’s Chinatown. The foam pads inside the HOLGA that are supposed to cushion the film rolls came off and ended up inside the roll film. That’s why the exposure looks so weird. I like it, it looks cool!