Black and white or colour? The decision about which format I use is usually easy. If colour doesn’t add to the storyline, then I don’t use it. A black and white image on the other hand, needs to have a strong emotional or graphic element to it. Before I press the shutter, every photo has to have an inherent truth to it, and the choice of format usually happens automatically.
I have never really been a nature photographer, actually I don’t even like to classify myself as any ‘kind’ of photographer. I just take photos of the world around me, wherever I am at the time. When I am not travelling, I live in a small coastal town in Australia. It’s very easy to go for long walks here and not see another person, but I do encounter a lot of wildlife in the natural environment, so that is what I take photos of. Every photo I make receives the same attention, whether it is a sentient being, an object or a landscape. In the end, it’s all part of the same reality.
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:
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!
Sometimes it’s difficult for me to decide if an image works better in black and white or in colour. Generally, the colour has to add something to the narrative. When I get an image like this, I don’t have to choose! This is my idea of a coloured black and white image.
Choosing a ‘best of’ list is not a natural thing for me to do as I don’t have favourites in my life. I don’t do bucket lists or top ten books, movies, music etc. My preferences change all the time, it’s what keeps me focussed on the present. As a photographer this is vital. I do, however, like the challenge of selecting my best images for the year because it gives me a chance to select and re-frame photos. It’’s about finding the strongest visual narrative. I do this with every series that I create, be it on a daily or monthly basis. These images have in some way captured the emotion of the moment.
Taking photos is a challenging notion for me. It means getting closer to people, the environment and myself. Photography has always been a way for me to discover the world anew every time I lift the camera to my eye. It is at times confronting, even scary but ultimately liberating.
My goal for 2015 is simple: I want to stay in the uncomfortable zone, take less photos but better images.