Text and photographs by Oliver Rath.
Actually it is a pity that I did not have a relationship to a camera in the past – not any. If there were digital cameras to buy in my childhood, I maybe started being delighted by them earlier. Especially today´s possibility to take a picture, copy it to your laptop and work with it in such a fast time, could have enthused me a lot.
Sure, we learn much things at school, but nothing about photography or the technology behind, nevertheless I think everybody of us should be trained, how to keep a single moment in our live.
Bored by school I concluded it for the benefit of music when I was 16. My grandpa, who I unfortunately just know from pictures, was a great composer and musician. All the crazy stories about him have been very fascinating for me, especially for one reason: he was popular!
Besotted to make music I played in bands, produced mixtapes and sold copies of my own hip hop tapes to save my existence. My father died when I was 18 and a depression followed, but I think his death gave me a great force and new energy to show especially my mom that I am able to stand on my own feet.
In 2001 RedBull booked me for a gig in New York. Some friends of mine gave me an analog camera as a birthday present in this year, which I certainly took with me. The first time I photographed my whole film, has been in the morning of the 11th September, when I was in Chinatown. This day I had the first experience where I felt the desire to record as much as possible with my camera.
Seven years later I found myself in my own music studio recognizing me as a marionette of my life based on “sex, drugs and rock´n´roll”. There I began to worry about a frittered life, where I just stumbled from one party to the next without developing myself. Due to a lot of whiskey and cocaine in my brain I turned to a great asshole! I felt like a failed wreck that experienced all and nothing!
Unfortunately it is often not much sustainable for a dj to thrill an audience for one evening, which they may forget very soon after the next morning.
So I bought my first Lumix and have been so delighted by this little camera, that I took it with me every time since that day. I photographed everything that crossed my way, without considering what I did there. How wonderful it is to catch a moment which will never appear again, isn’t it?
From there on I neglected the music to focus on photography and stopped my gigs as a dj. I took out a loan to finance my first reflex camera and with a friend´s help we created a photography blog.
Helmut Newton once said the first 10.000 pictures you take are rubbish – I guess in my case we talk about 100.000.
Digital photography hardly avoids Photoshop, I always thought as more contrast and sharpness I use, the better the picture would look like. However, as more as I did I just designed an unreal look.
All changed when I heard about taking pictures in raw format and not in jpg. Suddenly everything seems to be possible and I was so psyched that every picture could be rescued without a lack of quality. From this moment on I concentrated on light and technology. Thanks to the web, I gathered very explicit information how to illuminate a picture in the right way. Unfortunately, even though you acquired the technical knowledge, still nothing guarantees a good picture! Creating an amazing you have to do a lot more than just to push the button in the right moment.
It happens a lot that my plans on a picture end up in something completely different. Anyway, in my opinion, photography is as unpredictable as weather. I could fill lots of disks with pictures without making one step forward.
I am convinced that there is a good reason why the most popular photographers are far over 50 years old.
In any case, it is also possible to shoot nonsense for 20 years.
In some way every picture is an inspiration for me. It is the same with music, where every chord has to be assembled new, again and again.
May I introduce?
My wife’s name is camera, I love and I hate her, through the last years I decided to share my way with her. The reason why our relationship is working better meanwhile, is solely because I am able to keep distance from time to time, so I can be happy like a little child when I hold her in my hands again.
In the mean time approximately 1.000 people per day are visiting my blog where I publish 1-2 pictures every day. I just like to recommend every photographer to push himself by creating an own photo blog.
And to be honest, of course you also need to be lucky to have the adequate situation with the right time at the right place to get your perfect photo.
At a shooting I sometimes take about hundred pictures for one great.
Sometimes I have to force myself to stop for the reason, that I often think I could top the situation. On the other hand you are sitting in front of your screen, checking the pictures and you are annoyed that you did not take more pictures of a person, or tried other arrangements. You never know, maybe it was the first and the last time you met a person in these special conditions.
There are people where I feel so attracted that I desperately want to take a picture of them.
In some cases, you first have to move through a huge, exhausting labyrinth of agencies and managers to get one particular person in front of your lens.
I absolutely love the fact, that shooting a picture of a person, mostly allows you to take a look at his soul and you can see, what others would not notice at all. Maybe for this reason I enjoy to work with acting talents, they are easily able to show different feelings.
From time to time I would like to beam me into an area of conflicts or war, moving as an invisible photographer, to picture the downsides of human beings. Anyhow, I would love to have an integrated camera in my eyes because not everybody is happy when I whip out my big camera to fix a moment, which should not been shown due to its intimacy.
In the past I sprayed graffitis at walls – not because I have been a great painter – I was looking for the thrill caused by dangerous situations. Now fortunately, taking great pictures satisfies my adventurous drive. Oddly enough, I had my most thrilling moment with a dog. For a campaign he was supposed to jump over my head to catch a frisbee, but having a LOT of speed he totally crashed into my camera. By this, my Canon 5d mark 2 immortalized in my face with two scars which you can still see today.
Commercially orientated it is of course hard to finance your life by integrating your own taste and to gratify the taste of the client in the same time.
You always have to realize, that money is of great importance in photography. Some pictures nearly smell like a lot big amount of money, caused by a great team behind: Make up and hair artists, models, stylists, great locations, producers, illumination, assistance, editing, etc. …
Otherwise, too many cooks can spoil the broth. For this reason I prefer to work in a small team.
I am a very impatient photographer; everything has to happen right now – we actually live in a fast world. There are a million of photographers, every mobile phone includes a camera, what makes me happy because using this and social networks such like facebook, a photo becomes more interesting and important for people again.
Looking at old imagery, I quickly recognize that back in these times there was spent a lot more accurate effort and passion for one single picture.
Maybe sometimes we should follow these examples and be more considerate about the things we do in life.