Tag Archives: interview

out of sight

The last month has found me in the midst of a major content production period at work and the heat is on until the moment I board a plane to Seattle tomorrow.

For those who don’t know, my job involves creating and publishing online content related to photojournalism. The last weeks have been filled with interviews, editorial work, website updates, multimedia productions, and an abundance of photography and photographers. It’s an exciting time, but has required all my focus – the reason why things have been a bit quiet around small sight.

So, it’s time for an update. On Saturday, we launched an iPad app. A colleague and I have spent a few months together working on the photo app with a team of developers and I was thrilled when it went out into the world. Last weekend marked the annual Awards Days where photographers from around the world gather in Amsterdam. This year there was a lot of talk around our new multimedia contest and the announcement of winners. In between moments of watching photographers present their work and screening multimedia productions, I was heading up the production team that interviewed 20 photographers about their work. In between all that, I sat down with Nancy Donaldson, a multimedia producer at The New York Times, to talk about multimedia. Interview coming soon.

The real work has centered around the new website that we hoped would go online about now. A number of development delays have come up, but it does deserve a post of its own. For now, I am off across the ocean in the morning, but I will leave you with a recommendation to enjoy the stories of the photographers and view these impressive multimedia productions.

(photo via).

fishermen by Stratis Vogiatzis

I first came across the work of Greek photographer Stratis Vogiatzis a few years ago when I heard about the publication of his book Inner World. A long-term photographer, he captures something wondrous and inexplicable in the worlds he explores. Equally, his descriptions of his projects cast poetic shadows alongside his photographs. After three years and more than seven countries into fishermen, I talked with Stratis about the project, where it came from and where it has taken him.

When did you start the project?
Stratis Vogiatzis
: I started this project three years ago and it is still in progress. I started taking pictures of my small island in Greece, Chios, and then I continued to document the life of the fishermen in the whole region of the Mediterranean Sea and in more than seven countries. I don’t know when I will finish. I think deep inside me I don’t want this project to end because I don’t want to lose all the magic that is present when I am inside a fishing boat in the middle of the sea. And I don’t want to stop eating fresh fish.

Why were you drawn to the subject of fishermen?
Stratis Vogiatzis
: I was born and raised on an island and I spent all my childhood close to the sea. The sea is very important for my balance. When I am away from the sea for a long time I don’t feel okay. When I was doing a project about this island, I photographed fishermen as well. Someone asked me why I was travelling with them and I answered that I was doing a project about the island. He answered, why don’t you make a project about fishermen as well. I thought that it was a great idea. Doing a project that has to do with the sea? Fantastic!!

How has the project changed over the years? What was the original focus of the project, what is it now?
Stratis Vogiatzis
: At the beginning, it was more of a reportage. I wanted to document the various forms of fishing and document the life of the fishermen in a more journalistic way. Over time, this changed because I changed as a photographer. At the beginning, photography for me was about the image. Now it is about the experience. It is not about a good or a bad image. It is about taking a true or a false image. Although it sounds heavy to say that photographs – in order to have value for me – must be the document of a religious experience. The fishermen project evolved into a very personal project and all the images that have descriptive value have no importance for me now. In a way, through the world of the fishermen I speak about my longings, my fears, my need to communicate with others.

How much time do you usually spend with the fishermen on their boats?
Stratis Vogiatzis
: It depends. The longest I stayed in a boat was one week. But it’s not only in the boats. I also spent a lot of time with them in the ports. The thing is that I wanted to spend more time with them. I have worked on this project for three years, but not with the intensity that I desired.

In your description of the project, you talk about the energy of the sea. How do you think if affects your photography?
Stratis Vogiatzis
: Many times I felt a drama was taking place in front of my eyes, a drama that shows the desperate, primeval need of the people to tame nature, to overcome their weakness against the power of the sea and demand that she obeys their will. It is my strong belief that ‘the people of the sea’, as Proust called them, are the gatekeepers of a world totally unfamiliar to us. Being with them is a unique experience, to see how they deal with the wind and waves, the methods and the sea paths they follow when they hunt the fish and the incredible stories they share. It always comes as a great pleasure to observe the very special relation they share with the sea and its secrets. The connection that these people have with the sea is something that we cannot understand. They know the sea like we know a certain neighborhood in the city we live and, at the same time, the sea remains the biggest mystery for them. Although they know her mood, the winds, the currents, nevertheless they will always be foreigners invading an alien space.

What is it like to photograph in such a small space with lots of people and without much privacy?
Stratis Vogiatzis
: What strikes me is the simplicity of their life inside the boat. The word personal space doesn’t exist in their vocabulary; they share a small space inside the cabin that is transformed into a small world in which they laugh, fight, communicate, spend time together. They eat upon a newspaper and when they finish eating, they gather the newspaper and put another one where they drink tea or coffee. When they are exhausted, they simply lean on each other or they find a small corner where they can rest. They are is no complexity in the life of the fishermen, neither I think the hypocrisy of pretending to be something different than they really are. What overwhelmed me the most was the authenticity of their lives and the fact that they are keeping the same simple, ‘insignificant’ way of life. The limitation of the space they share is exchanged by the infinity of the ocean and the harsh conditions of their work are exchanged by the freedom the share being in the middle of the ocean. Every fisherman is a traveller and every fishing day is a journey for them.

Has your experience photographing the fisherman made you reflect on your profession as a photographer? Are there any parallels?
Stratis Vogiatzis
: I’ve never seen photography as a profession. I still don’t know how to act as a professional. I wished I knew, but I don’t. On the other hand, I consider myself very lucky that I can do what I love in photography and still pay the bills. I don’t think that the fishermen project made me a good professional, rather the opposite. At the same time though, I found a space inside me, a connection with the photography that I want to preserve intact.

All photos used with permission from the photographer. To read more about the project, click here.

Weekend Links #22

Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. The weekly post is my chance to share with you a few things from the week, in a list compiled during the weekend. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A few things I enjoyed last week:
1. Spending a day in the Hague for the Movies that Matter film festival, running until 30 March
2. Interviewing interesting people, like Ed Kashi, Andrew DeVigal, Nanako Koyama, and more
3. Spotting the photography by Ye Rin Mok (pictured above, via thank you, okay)
4. Hearing about Velour, a clothing brand started in Göteborg, Sweden that now has a store in De Negen Straatjes (via GYPROT)
5. Spotting a rare occasion when my two homes (Amsterdam + Portland) come together in the form of Olivia Bee‘s photography being part of a publication by Foam, the photography museum in Amsterdam (pictured below)

Interview with Nanako Koyama: every morning

I love the quiet routine of the morning time. Discovering Japanese photographer Nanako Koyama and her project Every Morning (via oh, hello there), I was curious to know more about her visual exploration into people and their mornings. Here, a few questions I posed to Nanako:

Why did you choose to explore the connection between people and mornings?
Nanako Koyama: Well, I grew an interest in exploring that which makes someone an individual―like the series ‘5 Stories About Rooms’―this was about exploring peoples’ individualities and idiosyncrasies as well, in a way. Anyway, I was thinking that the moments before breakfast illuminate a person’s real personality, or parts of it. When eating breakfast, one’s brain finally becomes activated. To put it the other way around, before eating breakfast your brain is still kind of asleep and it feels like this is the only waking moment when you’re not really in control of yourself. I just thought this “being yourself” in the morning would be interesting to explore. This is why I chose breakfast as my subject.

I wrote a postscript in Japanese but I’m still working on an English version. I’ll post it as soon as possible too.

How do you approach the people in your photography? Do you know them personally or do you work with people unknown?
Nanako Koyama: For this series I asked my friends if they would let me take their photos. Most of the time I take photos of people I know. I like to take photos after I’ve thought hard about the concept and composition. I do sometimes take photos of strangers. Even though I like to think about concepts or composition though, I mostly take ‘snap shot’ style photographs.

What was something you learned about people during this project?
Nanako Koyama: At first I thought that as the country changes, the culture and people would change along with it to some degree. Because of this I was thinking about exploring a photo series about the differences between people. When I was actually taking photos though, I realized that the differences between countries are very confused and whilst different there were a lot of cultural similarities between the countries, especially in regards to breakfast time. Even now, with national boundaries swept away, these people―my friends―have their own cultural differences and these helped form their individualities. This is what I learned from this series.

Are you still working on the project?
Nanako Koyama: I’m currently working as a studio assistant at the moment and so unfortunately I have little time to travel, however I would like to visit America or some other places where I’ve never been before in the future with this project in mind. So, yes, I can say I’m still working on it.

All photos used with permission from the photographer.

Weekend Links #16

Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. The weekly post is my chance to share with you a few things from the week, in a list compiled during the weekend. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A few things I enjoyed this week:
1. Seeing over 40,000 photographs over the course of the last week
2. Interviewing photojournalist David Burnett, Geo director of photography Ruth Eichhorn, critic for The New Yorker Vince Aletti and photographer Heinz Kluetmeier http://bit.ly/fs55tx (image above of the studio)
3. Listening to Adele’s new album 21 on NPR. Just beautiful.
4. Remembering the Oregon fog in images (pictured below, via for me, for you)
5. Reading about the wonder of winter and enjoying the final moments of the season
6. Listening to the new album by Avalanche City (via home.town.treasure)

An interview with Anne Schwalbe

The photographs of Anne Schwalbe are subtle observations of quiet scenes, capturing subjects that seem to transcend a specific time/place/situation. I imagine this gives a viewer the opportunity to connect with the image in a very personal way, to do something with the image in their own moment. Intrigued by her images, I was inspired to do a short interview and hear more about her background and her inspiration.


Could you give a short history of yourself?
Anne Schwalbe
:  I grew up in Berlin. I developed my first black and white print in the 6th class. After school I wanted to do an apprenticeship at a photo shop, but nothing worked out. I decided to give up photography and study German Studies and Cultural Studies. That was not the right thing for me. During these studies I began to do photography at a little Lab for young people in Berlin. In 2003 I started to study photography at the Ostkreuz School for Photography with Ute Mahler and Werner Mahler in Berlin. Since then I work solely on photography.

The Sonic Blog described your work as ‘typically German’. Do you think there is a ‘typical German style’? How does your work fit into it?
Anne Schwalbe:  I think there is a typical German style, but I never had the feeling that I really fit into it. Nevertheless, the Sonic Blog said that he feels that my photography is somehow typically German in a way he cannot label more clearly. I like this comment, especially that he can’t describe my work.

What are some things/people/moods that inspire your work?
Anne Schwalbe:  Emptiness, abstract things, monochrome paintings, sculptures, nature, silence, fun, to be in the middle of the nowhere together with people I like.

Nature is recurrent in your photos. Where does this interest come from?
Anne Schwalbe:  I grew up in a town, but I really need to be in the nature. In a city there are too many cars, people, noise and not enough trees, silence and empty space.

I really like how you focus on the details and get really close; showing a lot by showing just a little. What is the motivation for this?
Anne Schwalbe:  Thank you. It just developed. It was not my plan. I am interested in these things.

How do you think people experience your photography?
Anne Schwalbe:  So many people, so many ways.