by Maryline Dumotier and SoMuch Noise on 18.05.2020
A year ago, we were at the Luxembourg Street Photography Festival where we had the opportunity to meet Sabine Weiss, who has since made us regret our simple life. Today, the definition of “simple” takes on another meaning, it feels like nothing makes sense anymore. Despite everything, we have the pleasure, this year, to assist online to the Luxembourg Street Photography Festival, the Slide night, the Open Wall, conferences of talented photographers and… lock-down has good sides: to take time to ask a few questions to our guests.
1. Today with our smartphones, we have all become street photo artists, what makes the difference? The technique, the material, the spontaneity, the purpose?
“One must not worry on this matter. The fact that I carry a pencil with me does not automatically make me a writer, even a writer is not automatically a successful one. With a painter or sculptor, the same. Especially in photography, using a camera does not immediately make one a virtuoso of the field. Yes, it is true, the accessibility of photography has revealed beautiful talents. But the essential quality of photography has not increased exponentially. I believe in innate talent, but without training, without growth, unlimited work and perseverance, talent is not easy to reveal. Of course, the inner voice has a guiding role then, and what needs to be done opens the way in front of the hero.
The difference may shine from the individual assumption of a vision, of the exploration of the self. If you are meant to bring the photographer out of you, you will find all the means to do so and leave a mark. Maybe for a while it’s useful to understand the masters. Afterwards, you have to find your own way. The need to explore, to express, to search for a meaning of life is purely individual and brings the joy of being.”
2. Where, when, how and why the choice for color or black and white is made?
” It’s easier than you think. The scene itself decides how it wants to be exposed, through the eyes of the photographer’s interpretation, of his instinct. In my case, it’s simple. If lines, textures, contrast, light and shaded areas predominate, the eye will try to find an abstract balance, through black and white expression. If there is the slightest note of color accent, a little drop of red, a yellow object, etc., then the scene will be exposed in colors, pleasing the eye and the senses through the psychological contribution of color. I think black and white is for the mind, while color is for the soul.”
3. As in any other field, women are underrepresented – the man takes the photo, the woman is on the photo – At the Luxembourg Street Photography Festival, you are four guests, four men. Do you think there is a “male gaze”, could your photos be taken by a woman?
” If someone else, regardless of gender or any other detail, could take the photos I do, in my place, I would start doing something else. In Romania there are very good women photographers in this field, I do not feel any discrimination that street photography would make. Probably the more sensitive or introverted feminine nature guides women photographers to enjoy the work with models, to do fine art, more meticulous activities. Being on the street means being permanently elsewhere than at home. This is typically male, if we look at it from the perspective of the amygdala. I think a future edition of the Festival, that brings both women and men street photographers together is most welcome and commendable.”
4. The pandemic that is spreading right now has changed our lifestyles, has it changed your artistic vision? The forced idleness also sparked everyone’s creativity, what did it reveal to you?
” I was already a perfect introvert before the pandemic, I use to set my own social distance voluntarily on the street, among people. Two months is a too short a time to give birth to inner enlightenment, I think. Maybe this can be a beginning of something beautiful. We have certainly become more attentive to hygiene. Otherwise, at least in Romania, people can’t wait to behave as if nothing happened, the return to “normal” is seductive. Those who cared before will continue to care, regardless of context.
I had time to carefully research my photo archives from the last 15 years, to go deeper and reveal what I haven’t found time to reach yet, there. Film photos, filmed sequences have finally found their way to the light of the screen. Creatively, I didn’t light any new sparks, I became more attached to being at home and taking care of the house and myself, for which I couldn’t find time before. I also had time to dust off all the old cameras in my personal collection, to put fresh batteries in, to put them back into operation.
I posed couple of colorful sunsets, as usual, but from the window, and I posted images on the networks for two months, digging the archives, according to the normal schedule, without any interruption. I tried to be and to behave normal, I think this is essential for a good state of the spirit.”
5. What was the last photo you took? Can we see it?
“I think there are two 🙂 my neighborhood, viewed with a drone, and the cat, which I had plenty of time to photograph. Outwards and inwards complementary perspectives.”
Next interview: Joe Aguirre