I’ve spent the weekend planning out my travel photo projects for 2015. By Sunday evening I have booked myself flights to Indonesia and Sri Lanka! I am really looking forward to returning to Java to continue my ‘Panen-Harvest’ project plus a new series of portrait works. I also have some exiting plans for Sri Lanka, details to come once they are confirmed.
Photo: From the Dongeng Genteng (Tile Tales) project at Jatiwangi, Java, Indonesia, 2011.
I tooted my horn, gave them a thumbs up and was rewarded with two big grins! The young lads then headed off in their billy carts. But to them, these home-made vehicles were real racing cars! I love the power of imagination and the sense of adventure, fearlessness and discovery that this moment evoked in me.
It also reminded me of why I am a photographer; I love to explore and have my understanding of the world challenged. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundanity of daily existence, that confirms itself with its comfortable routines. Photography forces me to look and reframe my understanding of reality, it allows me to rediscover the world anew every time I look through the view finder. When I look back at what I have captured with my camera, there are many times that the grin on my face is as wide as the one of the young boys in their homemade racing cars.
Photo: Fuzhou, China, 2011
© R.W. Schatz
I love walking, it clears my head, keeps me relatively fit and gets me out of my home office. I often walk the same route for weeks, really getting to know the place and trying to be mindful of my surroundings. I view them like the famous T.S Elliot quote:
‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’
I have been thinking about portraiture lately, mainly about technical aspects, as I am contemplating getting a new lens. I have to remind myself however, that the most important aspect in taking photos of people, is the personal interaction between the subject and myself. I feel that taking a photo of another person is in some way, a self portrait and I strive to convey in the image what moved me to take a photo of this person.
This is a portrait of an Indian worker in Malaysia. He endures many hardships working and living away from his family in Chennai. He was one of the most generous people I met during my month long stay in Malaysia. He and his friends gave up their precious free time to show me around their living quarters and also introduced me to some Hindu culture. I am grateful for this and hope that I honour his spirit of generosity with this portrait.
Walking is a big part of my photography practice. There is no better mode of transport than travelling on foot to get to know a place. Anything faster than walking and I feel like I am missing photo opportunities. Then there are times when even walking seems too fast, especially when I am in a new place. So the only thing left to do is to sit down in a cafe or tea house and observe!
Izmir, Turkey, 2014
From the Coastal Town series.
I usually work on a few photo projects at once because this allows me to find suitable subjects in whatever location I am in. The challenge in the Coastal Town series is to locate intriguing images. The old saying, ‘My home is my castle,’ is well and truly alive in the suburban sprawl of the coastal town.