User Profile Fields Own View
It’s not often that a photogapher is himself so photogenic and so charismatic as Stephan Vanfleteren. This is the first of two interviews with him and it’s really worth watching both.
Vanfleteren’s work is readily identifiable as his own: Classical and documentary portraits, some landscapes, all in rich black and white tones, often with a thick black line inside a white border and mounted in a black frame. Stunning, compelling images.
The interview takes place in his exhibition ‘BELGICUM’ and he begins by talking about how this project came to be. It is an overview of 15 years of his photography in Belgium. A personal, nostalgic, melancholic view. “Just the way I see it“.
Not may photographers do projects on their own country so he’s quite happy about that. As a press photographer he’s seen a lot ot the world but, as he says, “You forget about your own country. And especially while Belgium is so small. It’s like being a boxer – this is your ring, your territory where it all has to happen. And Belgium’s a strange country.”
Some of the photographs were ‘stolen’ from the street. But in the main they are taken in the intimacy of poor people’s homes. Sometimes, Vanfleteren says, he was the first visitor they had had in weeks or months. It is charachteristic of him that he “kind of became friends with them and visited them again” when he was in the neighbourhood. “I feel comfortable with these people, more than sitting with a banker.” Everyone in this exhibition portrayed with dignity and respect.
Vanfleteren then goes on to talk more generally about his approach to photography and his decision to stick with black and white. It was a concious decision made some six months after art school and beginning his professional career. He chose the ‘little thing’, the ‘narrow track’ because he just felt good about it. Resisting pressure from the newspapers to deliver colour images cost him some interesting assignments. But the quality of his black and white work meant that he was still always in demand and he kept getting work. Now he has a body of work which bears his style while others adapt, as he says, from month to month to new fashions.
When making portraits Vanfleteren is rather quiet and contemplative. There is no shouting or loud music or rapid changes of pose. He moves slowly round his subject “as in a dance”, occasionally giving instructions on where to look. Even after all these years taking portraits is something very special to him. “It’s an energy that is very strange. Even if you see the people years later there’s a connection. Because some people really let you into their life, their heart or their mind – so it’s something very intense. That’s why I like portrait photography.”
The beautiful thing about photography, Vanfleteren says, is that you can “really go wherever your head is”. If you feel sad and melacholic you can express that: If you feel outgoing, go out, meet people and express that too.
Stephan Vanfleteren sums up his refreshing approach this way: “I don’t want to be a photographer that proves that he can photograph everything. I want to be a happy man. And how you become happy is to photograph the things that you are interested in. ‘Artist’, ‘documentary journalist’ - The words I don’t think about. I just want to make photographs that I like and that other people can understand and feel too.”
Learn more about this outstanding photographer in Part 2.
Adolf Miethe was responsible for the three-color, or Autochrome photographic process. Today exhibition curator Mr. Seibt welcomes us to view the works and achievements of Miethe that have been collected throughout the years.
Seibt has a somewhat personal connection to Miethe in that his in-laws lived not far from the area where Käthe Miethe, Miethe’s daughter resided. This close knowledge sparked Seibt's interest to delve into the personal life of Miethe.
Miethe is known historically in photography for two achievements; he invented the magnesium photo flash along with his colleague Johannes Gädicke around 1889. And his most notable achievement being the completion of his transcending three-color process. Before Miethe’s process came along the term “natural colors” had not even been thought of in the world of photography. It was Miethe who constructed the interchangeable camera. The camera’s principle was that three 9x24cm separate photos were to be made one after the other on photo plates with red, green and blue filters over each photo. Using the three separate photos further to view them in full color happened in that they were either made into a slide transparency, viewed through a device called the Chromascope, enabling all three color filtered images to be viewed as one color photo. The last method was viewing the images through a projector, which consisted of three light channels and three lenses and a control mechanism on the back to control each individual color and project it onto the wall.
Miethe was also known for many other firsts. He made a total of three expeditions in his time a s a photographer. Being less a scientist he concentrated on capturing images in color. He took the first color image of the pyramids and valley of the kings in Egypt and the first color shot of an arctic glacier. Miethe was a also a hot air balloon pilot, capturing aerial images of landscape and towns that were to be used militarily during the world war.
Miethe was seemingly a “Jack of all trades” and being so won him friends as well as enemies, but the ones that knew him personally truly saw him as multi-faceted. This exhibition focuses on the personal aspect of Miethe, but another exhibition is forthcoming about Miethe the artist.
You might think that everything has been said about photographing flowers. You'd be wrong. Paul Solberg transforms botany into something you've never seen before: He takes you into a world of ethereal, translucent life forms. In this video he discusses the works presented in his exhibition at the Flo Peters Gallery in Hamburg.
Doing something new with flowers is challenging to say the least. The subject is dripping with sugar-sweet clichés: Valentine's Day, Weddings, romance and so on. But Solberg neither lives with flowers nor does he particularly like flower arrangements. There is no deep message in these images. It would, he says, be pretentious to claim so. He sees the flowers he photographs rather as jewellery that he makes portraits of. Robert Mapplethorpe's flowers were portraits too, but they are dark, sculptural images, almost like marble, laden with erotic innuendo.
Paul Solberg's images are stunning, light, almost abstract images of individual flowers, back-lit against white backgrounds.
Most of the work was done in the studio using a large array of small lights. Some shots were taken outdoors against the light. 'Light' is a word he uses repeatedly in talking about these pictures. " Colour is not the first thing that draws me in: It's the light". And on the subject of monochrome vs. Colour: " Black & white or colour is very secondary". 'Secondary' is the word he uses too about cameras: "They are beautiful machines, but it doesn't matter while I'm working. The most nimble and easy to use is what I use."
Paul was born in Minnesota in 1969, studied anthropology and photography in Cape Town, South Africa, andbecame a professional photographer quite late at the age of 35. There are echoes of Andy Warhol when he maintains," You don't have to make living at photography to be a photographer. You can't really teach photography. We're all photographers."
On his motivation in photography he says, "There's always a craving to do more. It's a process of slowing down and concentrating on one subject. Photography keeps me hungry, wonderfully ill at ease!"
Solberg lives in New York City.
A PDF version of Paul Solberg's book 'Bloom' is available free here.
Continuing in our news coverage of Europe is the most recent FEP Congress in Lyon. In this film we get the chance to talk with press chief Jorgen Brandt. After a short description about who and what is the FEP, he gives us a run down on the planned events and some of the featured speakers. He also hints to the next congress that will likely be held in Austria.
We also had the opportunity to talk with FEP President Neil Warner. He explains the importance of the awards, of the recognition and the prestige that it carries in Europe. He also shares with us the definitions of the award categories, Qualified European Photographer, the Master QEP for which there are only 40 recognized, the European Photographer of the Year, the Fine Art / Image of the Year and the Emerging Talent award that recognizes talent under 30.
He assures us that these winners and their works will serve to inspire and actively promote the organization. Join us for this special look at a very special organization.
Welcome to the latest installment of FotoTV news. Here's the latest happenings.
We're breaking out the party hats here to celebrate a major milestone here at FotoTV. Our 1000th film is in the can! And what a film it is! Here you'll get a preview of renowned photographer Lucien Clerc at work shooting on the beaches of Camargue in the South of France
The countdown has begun to kick off the worlds biggest photo tradefair; the Photokina. Right here in our home-town Cologne, Germany. What a homerun hit for us! FotoTV has been asked to produce live on-site coverage, so here you`ll get a preview of our custom glass studio, from where we will be producting all the latest news, trends, interviews and up-to-the-minute happenings live from the trade-fair floor. If you're planning to be there on Friday ...come celebrate with us in traditional Cologne fashion!
Another advance look we offer is a glance at the fascinating portfolio of Michael Schlegel. B&W photography
at it's best with timeless, poignant views from the world's last frontiers: Iceland and Australia.
Finally a look at, and a bid to participate in our annual charity, the Karma Calendar / Doctors for theThird World.
You can download a podcast of this news show at:
The 6th edition of FotoTV.News is a special edition on the photo-festival Les Rencontres d'Arles.
With this issue we will provide you with another perspective on Les Rencontres d'Arles. Like always, Marc personllay attended the festival. Find out what he liked and disliked as he is looking back on the event in this film.
You can download a podcast of this news show at
In this film FotoTV’s founder, Marc Ludwig, talks to photojournalist, David Douglas Duncan about his Korean War photographs, his extraordinary career and the adventures and events he witnessed and recorded. One of the most influential photographers of the 20th century Duncan was a prominent combat photographer for the United States Marine Corps, perhaps his most famous photographs were taken during the Korean War. Duncan discusses his photo narrative of the Korean War, while his vivid combat scenes giving us an eyewitness account of the courage and ordeal of the fighting men and what their world was like. At the time of the photographs Duncan was a marine, and therefore most fighting men were completely unaware they were being photographed, while he took pictures of battling and dying men side by side, documenting their many unforgettable warrior faces. Duncan’s Korean War photographs are truly iconic as they also convey the brotherhood and daily life of an ordinary soldier. He lived with the men following fellow marines through a series of fearful battles taking photographs on the rapidly changing front line.
In this film, photographer Thomas Struth and book publisher, Lothar Schirmer, of Schirmer/Mosel, discuss Struth's collective exhibition for the SK Cultural Foundation at Media Park in Cologne, Germany.
Struth is one of the three pillars, including Thomas Ruff, and Andreas Gursky, fondly termed as "Strufski". All three are Alumni's of the Dusseldorf Art School, having learned photography in the master classes of famed pair, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and are credited for elevating the status, as well as the prices being paid for color photography prints today. In the early 1980s Struth added a new dimension to his work when he branched out from landscape, city scenes and daily scenes of people and started to photograph family portraits.
Struth was not proactively seeking to photograph as many families as possible, how many photographers approach this subject. He steadily became involved in what would become an unending project after a meeting with a friend, Ingo Hartmann, who is a psychoanalyst. As Struth himself says, "Photographing families is a relatively difficult and personal matter that requires a different approach than that of photographing a jungle or something that is inanimate. As a result, his family portraits attempt to show the underlying social dynamics within a seemingly still photograph. In developing the show for the SK Cultural Foundation, Struth's approach was not the least bit ordinary. Like a conductor enveloped in an orchestration of music, Struth likens his exhibit to the different executions within a classical musical composition; from the Overture to the Andante Moderato, the subtle changes in dynamics and soft-hued colors in his presentation engages viewers, inconspicuously conveying them to the next scene.