Project 45

These two photographs of hay stables in Valais, Switzerland, are 45 years in the making.  I took the first image in 1972 during a school camp with my first camera, the fabulous Kodak Instamatic. This started my lifelong fascination for photography. When I received the prints from this film, I was annoyed at the glitch in this one image. However, four decades on, I feel that this imperfection makes the photograph perfect for me.  It showed me that with a camera, it was possible to capture a sense of time and space that could last a lifetime.

This year I returned to the region for the first time since I made this photo and I was excited to recapture this moment.  Of course that is not possible, just like standing in the same river twice. However, I managed to make a photo of a past moment, which is now destined to become a new memory.

Both photos were taken in the Fiesch region, Valais, Switzerland, 1972 & 2017

The Ghosts Of Okpo Land – Abandoned Amusement Park In South Korea

I am a regular traveller to South Korea. On Geoje Island, I learned of an abandoned amusement park overlooking the town. The fun park, called Okpo Land, had been closed down in 1999 due to a series of accidents, the last when a young girl tragically fell to her death from a ride.

The park, perched on top of a hill, was in the process of being reclaimed by the surrounding bushland. Although it was deserted, graffti, rubbish and empty beer bottles were evidence that it was still being used as a ‘fun park.’ On that day, I was the only person there, but I had an eerie feeling that I was not alone. Was it my imagination, or was there really a restless spirit inhabiting the area?

I have since returned to Geoje Island but Okpo Land has now been demolished to make room for a hotel. To honour the people who died at this site, author and storyteller Morgan Schatz Blackrose, and I have published a book dedicated to the lost souls of Okpo Land. You can download it as a PDF file for free here:  carousel

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

I am a lazy artist!

I’m happy to use whatever gets the work done the easiest and quickest way.  Granted, ‘easy’ and ‘quick’ are relative terms. The idea of achieving results in a shorter time and with less effort has always appealed to me, a decisive factor in my early adoption of digital photography.

In 2001 I purchased my first digital camera, a secondhand Kodak DC220, a 2 (!) megapixel beast of a thing. My film cameras started to gather dust from that point on. Not only did digital photography offer instant images, something that I hadn’t experienced since shooting Polaroids in the 1970’s, it also allowed image manipulation without the need for a dark room.  I was sold!

Nowadays I have a camera that has wifi and I can transfer my photos onto an iPad and edit my images on the go.  This has made a big difference to my travel photography, as I carry my ‘dark room’ in my bag!

In this spirit, I am always happy to try new ways of working with photography and image-making. So this weekend I am exploring the latest instant digital print making method, which kind of takes me back to my early photoshop printmaking methods.  I’ll be posting some images that have been made with the Prisma app.  I should point out, that I am not a fan of heavy manipulated photos but I see this app as creative printmaking method rather than a photo editing tool.

Besides, it’s easy and quick!

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.

FREE eBOOK

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 Compromise

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.

Mid North Coast, NSW, Australia.SONY DSC