Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Gonash Haghshenas

Houston, Texas

Where did you get your first camera?

It was my dad's old camera.

You shoot with analogue cameras. Do you always carry one with you?

Yeah, most of the time.

Is there a picture you took you can lose yourself in?

Hahaha, I don't think I like my work enough to be able to do that!

As most people, and especially photographers, you document your life by taking pictures. Is there any other form you record your experiences and memories?

Yeah, totally. I write more than I do anything else and sometimes I'll hold on to paper things if they remind me of something or some time cool.

Do you like to look through others' work or friends/families pictures? Do you prefer to hold the prints or scroll through streams/blogs?

I used to look at this album of my grandparent's dead relatives all the time and yeah, holding an actual print with weight in your hands is always better, but there's obviously way more shit to look at online.

Do you ever realize that you - in your own terms - are making progress as an artist? What has changed in your attitude or way of working?

I would hope I'm making progress but I'm not really sure. I guess if anything has changed, it would be that I've stopped caring so much, like over thinking or doubting everything I do so that has made it easier to be productive.

What are you working on currently?

I've been working on the same on-going series since I started and I'm hoping for something to come together this year with my pictures so I can shift my focus to other projects with writing and maybe film.

Do you find it easier to work on personal or assigned projects?

I don't think I've ever been assigned a project so who knows.

You’ve been living in the United States for a while now. What do you like most about living in Texas?

Texas rules, especially Houston. I used to want to get away and I ended up in New York last year because of that. But I'm in the Third Ward of Houston now and way more grateful for this city.

Which was the last song you listened to?

Probably something by This Heat.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Michel Nguie


Is there somebody who has encouraged you to pursue photography? Or who has supported your excitement to become a photographer?

To be honest, in the beginning I didn't trust in it too much myself, photography was just an important pleasure I indulged in during my free time. But then I met several people who encouraged me to become a photographer and artist in my hometown: The CAPC's museum director, an art critic and other people still support me.

Have you studied photography?

No, it's all self-education.

Is there a technique or focus you currently pursue?

There was a time I concentrated on working with hyperfocal distance - without even knowing about it. One day someone told me about this technique and I realized that I was practicing it without 'understanding' what I was doing: I was acting on instinct. Currently and more generally, I identify with the style of gonzo-journalism, because if you think about it, I experience what I photograph: Even if you can't see me in the pictures, I'm still an integral part of my photos and of what they show.

How much time can you dedicate to photography on a regular day?

Sometimes, I take several pictures per day, sometimes not. It depends on my mood and the opportunities that are available.

Do you plan your photographs, or let your instincts lead you?

Mostly, I plan my trips and then I let my instincts lead me.

Which magazine’s - online or printed - photographic features do you appreciate the most?

I read a few magazines; I like Triangle Triangle.  Its slogan is "Look and look and look, and then look again, because nothing replaces looking."

For you, is taking pictures a way to express yourself or rather a form of documentation/recording?

Both, in part it's a way to express myself and to praise what I believe is the light of the world.  It also is a form of documenting and recording the latter in order to show it to everybody looking at the pictures.

Is there a singular art piece (regardless its medium) that has moved you emotionally?

Music in general allows me to experience a lot of emotions.

Where did you travel the last time you were abroad?

My last travel was a trip across Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg. You can read about it here

And what is your favourite thing to do on weekends?

Going to church on Sunday mornings.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Paul Rousteau

Paris, France

Portraits are - among others - your expertise. What do you find difficult about shooting them?

​I find it quite easy by now, but sometimes I have just a very little amount of time to shoot a star. And sometimes I have bad lighting conditions at the same time, so I have to be fast and inventive.​

If needed, how do you help the person you are photographing to relax and focus?

​I tell them to be in their own mind and to simply think about her or his personal matters. And don't move!

Between you taking pictures for yourself and photos you shoot for commissioned work, are there differences in your approach while working?

​Not really, I always try to surprise myself, even if it's commercial work. ​

What do you enjoy about working with professional models?

​In general it's easier, because they have beautiful faces! But sometimes it can be a problematic when I want natural poses: they always want to control their images.

I felt that you very effectively play around and work with colour, light and haze: the images you create seem endless, encompassing their physical dimensions and I for one felt that they almost draw the spectator in. Is this something you aim for?

​Yes. I try to reveal spiritual and immaterial things by playing around with mistakes and colour.

You rarely shoot in black and white. Despite you being very successful with images in colour, was this ever a deliberate choice?

​Yes, I see in colours and I love colour​. I love light, which not in black in white. To me, it's impossible to shoot in black and white although I like photographers like Richard Avedon, Sally Mann and Garry Winogrand.

How did the idea for your personal project ‘Henri’ - the photographic diary for your son - come up?

​It all started without a condom! No, I'm joking: I took a lot of pictures of my son like all parents do. After two years of taking pictures, I decided to edit them. I spend one week editing the pictures with my friend Shannon Guerrico and Fred Bott. The finished product is the self-published book.

While working, do you like to be in conversation? Do you prefer to work in a quiet environment or to put on some music?

​It depends. For fashion photography, I like to have music as an energy booster. When I have only five minutes to shoot a portrait, I don't talk a lot, because I'm trying to be really focused on my job. But when it's all finished I do talk because I'm a sociable person!

Do you listen to any radios or podcasts? If so, which?

​Not really these days. Right now I'm kind of boring, because I only listen ​to set playlists. I used to make music myself, but I stopped after getting married and having kids. You can listen to my old stuff here

Whose non-photographic work have you always admired?

​Giotto, Félix Vallotton, Rumi's teachings, Renoir's "Les baigneuses", Dutch painters for religious paintings, Abdellatif Kechiche's movies, Arvo Pärt's work ... Here is my moodboard-blog with images that I like and put together. To me, it's very helpful to get inspired by these colours and situations, especially for fashion shoots. 

Which is the best place to get a quick and good lunch in central Paris?

Le Bar des Variétés​, it's in a beautiful and typically French passage. There we eat real meat from Auvergne, which is my home country. The address is: 12 Passage des Panoramas, 75002 Paris.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hanna Ukura

Stockholm, Sweden

How do most people react when you tell them that you’re a photographer? How do you feel?

I think it depends on in which city/part of the country/ or what country you’re in. But often people are more excited than I had anticipated they would be. This most of the times makes me wish that I had never said anything, because the follow up question always is: “So, what do you photograph?”. And that is a tough question to answer!

Are you ever surprised when you look through the developed pictures for the first time? 

I’m always surprised, and often in a positive way. That’s one of the reasons why I keep shooting analogue. I like the blindness and surprise of it. 

How do you interpret the term 'sensorium' for yourself? And what was the initial impulse that made you start this project?

To me, ‘Sensorium’ is the all-seeing eye, despite how cheesy this may sound. It’s about looking at all things all the time. It's about keeping your eyes and your mind open and about being curious. It’s the opposite of narrow-mindedness, which, I believe, is becoming more and more important in today's world since it’s tending to lean too much towards the “every man for himself” attitude. The project is something that has been growing on me over the years, but I first realised what it really was about one and a half year ago, while travelling by myself for a longer period of time. I was doing that for the first time and had time to really think everything through.

To you, is shooting a portrait always about showing what is unique about the person portrayed?

Hopefully. I like to get to know someone through taking photos of him or her. Usually, when I hang out with people longer, I start to take portraits of them. And that’s when I start to really observe that person. I find it interesting, almost stimulating, to find and see the uniqueness and beauty in each person. And why shouldn't I? Every person deserves to be seen.

What did you enjoy most about your collaboration with “Morningwood"?

It was a really good collaboration, because I was free to do whatever I wanted, and what I wanted turned out to perfectly align with the designer's taste and vision. It was interesting to work in a studio with models from an agency and with lightning and styling. And having the authorization to do exactly what you want with all of it was an uplifting feeling. For the first time I realized that the number of possibilities - when imagining all the things one could do in a studio - were never-ending!

If you could be based in more than one city/country, which would you choose? Why?

That’s my dream. I’ve never really acknowledged Stockholm as my city, the city where I like to live and develop myself. My secret dream is to have an Orozco way of living, which is about spending time at and in-between three or four different places: A huge studio/warehouse space in East London where I can spread out my stuff, put up some studio lightning, just go nuts over all the space and throw openings and parties; a small apartment in Stockholm just to sleep in, and maybe have small dinners; a hand built hippie cabin up on a mountain somewhere warm, preferably Spain or South America, to where I can retreat to, read, think about life, scribble down some thoughts and just breathe in. The fourth place I still have to decide on.

You wrote me that you intend to take your work into a new direction. What do you have in mind?

I want it to go further away from portraying romantic melancholy and more into displaying a more awake state of seeing. I’ve started to examine plain abstract photography, where you look more at compositions and colour fields rather than the actual object(s). But of course I’ll never stop taking photos of people and travelling. Instead I want to clarify why I take the pictures that I take. It’s all about why shooting at a certain moment, about what I am capturing and how I am doing it. I see it as a way of examining and developing my thought process(es).

How was the photo trip you took with a friend to Portugal and Spain last summer? Do you have any such plans for 2015?

It was a much needed trip to get away from the dullness and depression of the never-ending Swedish winter and to kickstart some new photo-thoughts and -projects. I’ll always, always keep the memories of the trip and of my friend very close to my heart after that trip. I wouldn’t want to replace them with anything in the world. And I’d love to do more trips like that, to just go without having any plans. I think everyone needs to sometime. I think it enriches you in an indescribable way. At the same time I think that I will go on my next all by myself. I can feel the itch of needing to just flee again.

What are you working on currently

There’s the ‘Sensorium’ project that will stay with me for the rest of my life. And there are a couple of so far secret projects with a friend who works with experimental video. I’ve started an modest side-project about the psy-trance scene that will turn into a book in a few years. No stress. There are a couple of small thoughts, try-outs, and discussions about collaborations that will hopefully turn out into amazing things. But mostly I’m working on focusing down my entire photography into something clearer: It's about formulating my projects, thinking hard about what direction I want to take, about writing statements etc... Along with keeping a steady flow of scanning and “everyday” photographing. 

Is there an artist - living or dead - you would (have) love(d) to work with?

Plenty. Collaborations are almost always interesting and they most of the times develop in different ways. There are a lot of artistic people in my close surroundings whom I have worked with, whom I am working with or whom I would love to work with. But in terms of well-known persons or artists: Gabriel Orozco is my god at the moment and doing a photo project with him, or under his guidance would be an absolute dream.

What are you listening to these days?

After listening to a lot of folk and blues for a lot of years I gradually switched and now almost exclusively am listening to electronic music in different forms: everything from techno, IDM, house or trance to more experimental stuff. I found that I work extremely well and stay focused while listening to interesting askew sounds without lyrics.