Encounters

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Encounters is a visual poem told through a series of black and white photos.

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Merci Marc!

There he was, climbing up a wall with a ladder to get a better view of what was on the other side. A quote stated something along the lines of ‘there are times you have to change the viewpoint to get the right image’.  This small image of photographer Marc Riboud demonstrating how he created some of his iconic photos, struck a chord with me.  I was in China visiting the 2010 exhibition: THE INSTINCTIVE MOMENT – A Retrospective, at the Shanghai Art Museum.  I was aware of his more famous photos, the Eiffel Tower painter, the woman placing the flower in the gun and the fabulously framed antique shop dealer photo from Beijing. These images by the renowned Magnum photographer were all there to see.

Shanghai was about to host the World Expo and the city was busy’ cleaning up’ its urban spaces.  This translated to, among other things, the destruction of many old, traditional neighbourhoods, the so-called Longtangs.  The homes were bulldozed and the occupants moved into new high-rise buildings.

Prior to seeing the Riboud exhibition, I snuck into an old Longtang neighbourhood that was in the process of being demolished.  To my surprise, there were still people living among the rubble, refusing to move. I spend a couple of hours taking photos and got out before I ran into trouble with the local authorities.

Having seen Riboud’s photos, many taken in China between 1957-2002, I kept thinking about that little photo of him looking over the wall.  This was a metaphor for me, to look beyond the obvious and to take some risks in my photography.  The next day I went back to the Longtang to take more photos.  As I wandered among the rubble, I saw it, a wall that prevented me from seeing what lay beyond it.  Instinctively I climbed it to look over.  The moment I had reached the top I saw a lone man cycling past a grand old house that was still standing. I lifted the camera and captured a photo that to this day I will remember as my Marc Riboud moment.

Merci Marc, you inspired me to focus closer on the moment and the emotions that can be found within that reality.

“Seeing is the paradise of the soul.”

Marc Riboud
(24.06.1923 – 30.08.2016)

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‘Merci Marc’ by Roman W. Schatz, Shanghai 2010

15 from 15

The end of another year, time to look back at some of my work.  This year I have been working on a number of photographic projects.  I continue to collaborate with my good friend Marcel Meier on a long distance photo exchange project, him being located in Switzerland and me in Australia.  We are currently working on a series of double exposures.

My most rewarding work in 2015 has been photographing my daughter’s wedding and I was privileged to be able to document this wonderful event.  My other major projects were travels to Java and Sri Lanka.  In my third visit to Jatiwangi, a small town in western Java, I continued my work with the local community and was able to complete a series of portraits depicting older people in the village.

I also traveled to Sri Lanka, where I spent one week working on an art project with a local school before traveling through this beautiful country.  I found myself taking more environmental portraits, something I am hoping to further explore next year.

Here are 15 of my favourite portraits from projects in Sri Lanka and Indonesia in 2015.

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reFramedcoverreFRAMED tells the story of Jatisura, a small village in West Java, through a series of portraits. I photographed senior members of the community and interviewed them about their most precious memories of living in the village. The project was conducted with the assistance of the Jatiwangi Art Factory (JAF), a local arts organisation who use art to strengthen their community.

The free eBook contains all of the portraitist and text from the project.

The Time Machine

Photography, for me, doesn’t preserve memories, it creates them.  There are of course events that I have photographed and in so doing, I have preserved that memory.  But it is the act of making an image that has formed a lifelong memory of that exact moment.  I am currently sorting through a large shoebox of old photographs and I am having flashbacks!

Looking at images I took, some going back more than 40 years, I can recall the exact moment I took a particular photo. A visual memory of a split second of my life.  It is this powerful.

Remembering the mood of an actual event become more distorted as time passes, the truth of it becomes hazier.  What remains unchanged for me as a photographer however is the exact moment of when I pressed the shutter.  I remember where I was and why I took the photo.  I know of no other medium that does this for me.  Sounds and smells can also transport me to a particular time, however the experience is more fleeting.

I have always viewed art as a form of philosophy, a way to find meaning in life.  Photography allows me to travel, meet people and experience new situations.  Most of all, the camera gives me the  ability to record time and space and create powerful memories.

Photo: Elwood, Melbourne, Australia 1981

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Jeju Island

Last year I spent one month hiking and photographing on Jeju Island in South Korea. I often leave the images sitting on my computer for a while before I make a final selection. I want to be able to detach my emotions from the place and time.

https://schatzart.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/jeju-island-south-korea/