W O L F G A NG   T H E   A R T I S T


i n t e r v i e w : 

Question: What would you like people to know about you as a photographer ?
Wolfgang:  I have conditioned myself to see beauty.  I always look for the special moments and try to capture them in the best possible way.  For example: during a wedding I literally shoot with both eyes open. One is focused on the camera viewfinder while the other one looks for the next best opportunity.  Like:  " What is happening to the in laws just before the rings are being exchanged ?  Is someone crying, are there any cute kids around ?"   You can scan a church in less than 2 seconds if you have trained yourself.

Question: What brought you into photography?
My mother is a sculptor and my father was a static engineer. Maybe that is why it was always easy for me to combine art and technology. My mom wanted pictures of her sculptures and that is how I got my first box camera at 8 years. And because I had criticized her sculptures, my photos of her sculptures were being criticized by my dear mother in return.  I never got cheap applause.  As a teen I had saved up for my first Praktika SLR and made some good pocket money photographing the local DJs, girls or shooting art objects for the art gallery in town. 

Question:  What do you enjoy most in photograph?
Wolfgang:  When I photograph I am in the present, I have to, and that is always a special state of awareness that is very enjoyable.  But I also enjoy giving people a gift.  Recently I was contacted after many years by the wife of an old friend in Germany.  She was and still is a beauty and one of the first things she told me, is that she still has the 8X10 I shot of her as a student on her coffee table.  I get teary eyed when I think of it.  I saw her in her essence at that time, which made me take the shot. What was a moment for me, became her defining picture of her life.

I have seen people burst out crying when I showed them their weeding video.  Real memories will fade, but a good photo will stay the same, it shows who we where.  Of course I am not talking about the: "Say cheese"  type photography.  That angle has to be covered, but I am after the shot where people are themselves, without the mask.  When we are older and look back at our lives, we will really value the treasure of good photography.

Question: Do you also use your skills as a hypnotist?
Wolfgang: I do not have to.  I achieve my best results when I open my heart and relax, that is when the magic starts happening.  The mind is reflected in the face and body language, so the better I can support my client's mood, the deeper and more authentic the expression will be.  I also use humor a lot to lighten the mood. Many people stress when they come before a camera, but a kind of laid back attitude will put people at ease and with the right joke even crack a real smile. 

If there is anything I can be proud of, it is the beauty I have seen in my life. I have failed to document this beauty most of the time.  Mostly because the camera was not there or ready and sometimes due to technical difficulties.  The photos in this gallery are just my failed attempts of preserving a frame of the ever-changing reality around me.

Question: You must be using a lot of expensive equipment?
Once I acted as a guide for a photographer from the German magazine "STERN". He carried 2 Leica SLRs and 4 lenses on his vest. His assistant gloated that that was more than $30.000 total. By now I have owned and handled far more expensive gear. Lets say 2 times as much. Once I actually tossed $30.000 worth of outdated video equipment alone. I have had all the gear I ever wanted and was willing to carry around.  I shot Betacams, 35mm, 2 3/4", 4" X 5", what to speak of a large 2' x 2' repro camera.  
Nowadays I shoot with a Panasonic DMC-FZ18, which is one of those super-zoom cameras with Leica optics and a set of close-up lenses. I keep it simple.  On the weekends I became a giant that stalk those creepy crawlers  in my backyard. In most cases a tripod would only slow me down, so I do a lot of very slow and low squats and I hold my breath for the shot. Its a great leg and hip work-out... not working with tripod, lights and reflectors.
Of course I also have slave flashes, external power packs, reflectors, soft boxes and tripods. 

Question: What makes a good artist in your opinion?
The perception or creation of beauty happens in the mind. When the artist wants to manifest the perceived beauty, may it be music, 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional, culinary or pertaining to our sense of smell, she has to be fluent in her technology.
For instance Picasso's drawings may look like a child's expression, but beware, Picasso knew anatomy inside out. He knew exactly how to draw a foot, an eye and so on, with him the childlike expression was a choice not ignorance.

In my personal world view I distinguish between the artist and the artisan. The artisan follows a firmly established course of action for a traditional product. The wedding photographer and the run of the mill portrait photographers come to mind. In medieval times painter businesses would crank out commonly ask for paintings like "The Madonna with Child" by copying a popular painting like an old fashioned Xerox machine.

The artist is the one that steps beyond the mediocrity of the safely trodden path and comes up with something new.
So originality with substance is one component that I like. And then there is the emotional impact of the art. Nobody will deny that music, smell and visuals have a very strong affect on the emotions. A painting or photo can be soothing, exciting and many other things to the emotions, so I judge an artist on what kind of mood their art invokes in me.

Question: What is a good photo in your opinion?
In this world any photo you look at is a good photo in a sense, because it made it past your filters that block out anything that is not important to you. In our world we are so over stimulated with sensual impressions that only the more extraordinary or the most base stimuli are given attention. So good art or in this case a good photo impresses people, which is why it is especially used in higher end advertising or to get political ideas across.

When I judge a photo, I make myself emotionally neutral and then I look at the image. Then I observe how the image makes me feel. Now here is the interesting thing: When I compared three identical photos of a meadow with a bracketed exposure, I noticed that the overexposed image made me feel happier than the correctly exposed or under exposed photo. As a personal bias I like to be happy and as a choice I used this so called over-exposed image on my desk-top. 
Of course there is so much more to say about good photos.

And then there is of course the level of perception psychology.  I consider composition, proportion, eye movement, color theory and like principles foreground/background contradictions.

Question: What do you think is the best way to take great pictures?
Wolfgang: As I said before, the perception of beauty starts in the mind. Perception in general is intentional.  That means, according to the German Philosopher Hegel, that the business man sees business opportunities, the predator keeps looking for prey,  and the artist looks for the extraordinary attraction in the ocean of mediocre information. Somehow we seem to be programmed to look for the extraordinary with our biological filters.

As a yogi I like to crank up the crown chakra which turns off my inner dialogue and lets me see the world with the eyes of a child again, without pre-conception. Well, I keep an eye on composition and the other technical stuff, but with the opening of the heart and crown chakra I become more sensitive to the finer things of life.

Pretty much every thing in life is better with the heart and crown chakra open, admitted, but that can be argued away with being a subjective experience.  The photo is a proof that I have been there, done it, no illusion, its here preserved in pixels. 

Question: So Wolfgang now really, why are you publishing your galleries?
They are my business card and advertisements.  To make a living as a photgrapher I have to show potential clients what I can do, what my style is.  Unfortunately 90 % of my work is scattered around the world.  I have nothing from my 6 years in India starting in the mid 80s till the 90s. I am complex being and many reasons and energies come together on this site. 

Of course there may also be those sensitive and intelligent people that have a good display monitor. They may love to have these beautiful images as screensavers and support/reward an artist at the same time. I am available for portrait photography of children, adults or families.  I shoot events like weddings, but also do product and industrial photography.  Just e-mail me and we can discuss your project.  I have also worked in printing, prepress and graphic design, so I have a solid technical foundation.

e-mail Wolfgang