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PhotoCamel - A photographer Interview, Kristian Bertel
Photo of an Indian shepherd in Rajasthan, India.
The photographer Kristian Bertel traveled to India and documented his experiences with his camera...
In this interview the photographer tells more about his photography.
What inspires you as a photographer?
- Two of my great passions in life are travel and photography. I believe that travel broadens one's view of the world. Experiencing other cultures, meeting people from other communities and other countries and seeing the beauty, and sometimes ugliness, of the world has helped me understand that all of our lives are at once interconnected and individual.
You did a series of Indian pictures. Many of them seem to have been taken with a telephoto lens. Can you tell me more about them?
- Yes, many of my Indian pictures has been taken with a telephoto lens. The point of all of this is to be sure you take advantage of the candid moments that present themselves first, then go for the more posed shots. It’s difficult to go the other way, from having a subject pose for you to then getting the candid shots. A good way to do this is to be sure you make use of a telephoto lens to get in on the subject without being noticed, which would in all likelihood completely change the photo opportunity. You can certainly use the zoom capability of your point-and-shoot camera, as well, but I always suggest staying within the optical, not digital, range of the camera’s zoom capability.
How do you create an interesting travel photo - what should you look out for? What things will help make it good?
- When you start out, it's a good idea to learn the basics by just trying to get 'flattering' photographs of the beautiful scenes in front of you, learn how to record the light at it's best. Eventually, you will need to progress from this. Begin trying to capture unique perspectives - moments which only you saw and which would have disappeared in a fleeting moment if you hadn't captured them.
What classic mistakes should you avoid?
- It is a good idea to have a look at as many shots from the area that you are visiting, before you leave. That way, you will see what shots have been done again and again, and be able to more intuitively find your own unique perspective.
What inspires you to take a photograph?
- Faces and light. Light because everything and anything can look so different and beautiful with a little bit of light on it. In terms of lighting and mood I think it is very important to capture your subject in the best possible fashion possible. This means simply returning over and over to a scene until you are satisfied with the conditions of the final product. I am not in stock mode where I just shoot something because it is there. I really believe that you need to be selective and really capture what you shoot to the best of your ability. This means showing patience. But along with patience I also think you shall be fast and ready for the sudden moment, where a person with an interesting face is appearing. I like photographing faces because faces tell stories.
Each of your images narrates a story that everyone can relate to in some way or the other. How do you achieve to do this?
- Well, I think it is very important to tell a story with every image you create. This is how to instill impact and draw your viewer into the image. Find a way for each person to connect with some element of your image. Connect the foreground with the background and find a way to draw your viewer to the subject.
People as subjects mean a lot in your photos. Can you tell me more?
- Yes, as I spent a large bulk of my career photographing people and cityscapes. I was using photography to better understand the people and culture. I did a lot of exploring on the streets and the camera was a good way to meet people.
I understand that you are most fond of doing picture stories. Why so?
- I like putting together picture stories, a series of still photographs that tell a story with each one building a layer of information. I’m always trying to create depth and understanding.
What are your thoughts on the increasing use of post-production in photography?
- I think all is fair, as long as you don’t overdo it and do it aesthetically.
Which photographers do you admire and why?
- Muhammed Muheisen is a fantastic photojournalist and his photos from for example Pakistan are a huge inspiration for me. Steve McCurry has also taken some of the most memorable documentary photographs of our time, and is well worth looking to for inspiration.
Any advice for newbies?
- Find your own style by experimentation and by looking at the work of others. The more work you look at, the more you will be able to avoid visual cliches as you will have a better foundation in your mind for what has 'been done' time and time again, and what is a unique vision.
To see more of Kristian's photos, visit his website, or visit his gallery on PhotoCamel.
Interview by I.W.
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