by Madalina Dragos
The original language of this article is English. If you read it in another language, it means it is an automatic translation.
Gunther Schweigert is a German architect, who, after 30 years, decided to follow his passion and started a small company as a freelance photographer.
In this interview, I hope that I have reflected a small part of his artistic character without claiming that I have exhausted the answers or visual stories that he can share with us.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a photographer, and what was your first subject?
A: I hiked along the coast on the Costa Brava in Spain for two weeks. It is a kind of Zen-Walking I’m doing once a year. My first subject were some people at the marketplace in the center of a coastal town.
Q: What style do you think that represents you?
A: My photos are clearly shaped by street photography and increasingly have a documentary, journalistic and social message. I did not consciously intend this. It seems to be part of the path I’ve set out on.
It is not about the time, it is about the mood
Q: Every time you take a picture of people on the street, do they know that and how do they react?
A: They usually do not know, I take a picture of them. It is, that my photos are about. It is about the current situation, everyday life, the snapshot. People who are aware of the pictures look and react different.
Q: Which artist has influenced you the most in your art?
A: There are actually two photographers who have shaped me. On the one hand, it is Hernri Cartier-Bresson, who influenced me and my point of view on the street, and on the other, Sebastiao Salgado, who brought me to documentary and photojournalistic photography.
Q: Which living or dead artist would like to have dinner with and why?
A: The photographer Sebastiao Salgado has had an eventful life as a photographer. He has seen and photographed a lot of suffering in order to then devote himself to the beautiful things in life. How I would love to meet him in a nice atmosphere to talk to him about his experiences.
Q: Which living or dead artist would you like to be your teacher?
A: The Dalai Lama is certainly an artist when it comes to life’s questions. I would like to listen to him.
Q: Looking back in art’s history do you believe that it is hard to be an artist or not and why!?
A: I don’t think it’s hard to be an artist in general. The creation of an object is usually a creative intrinsic process that is initialy limited to the object. When you view art as a commercial project, put it on a stage, link it to expectations, you could find yourself exposed to external forces that you usually cannot control and that can lead to discomfort, stress and criticism.
Q: Which is the hardest part as an artist?
A: The beginning of the creative process. When I have found access to my project or motif, one thing usually leads to the other.
Q: Do you think that artists create from their own suffering?
A: Absolutely not. Even if this seems like a widespread view, brought about by the biographies of well-known artists, I am rather the opposite of it. When I’m fine, I’m happy, I roam unencumbered and free through the streets of the cities and the motifs find me. Any attempt to force a subject or to take a photo in a bad mood has totally failed.
Q: Which is that emotion that triggers your creativity and what is inspiring you during the creative process and to create?
A: Relaxation. Working for, or with my muse is like a cognitive fireworks.
Q: What is the book that changed your life (artist/painting/piece of art/et.)?
A: The book “Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin Songlines of the Aborigines, an invisible, mythical map of Australia, which is passed on from generation to generation by songs and is the basis of the migrations (walkabouts) of the indigenous population.
Q: What is it that no one or very few people know about you?
A: I am a sensitive and vulnerable person.
Q: Who would play you in your bio movie, and what be its title?
A: Who could be interested in my bio?
Q: What is something that everybody loves but you can’t stand?
A: I never really liked fireworks.
Q: What is your life’s big question?
A: Do I manage to find my inner peace despite all the background noise around.
Q: What do you think about the Universe?
A: If the universe has not already been assigned a meaning from a higher point of view, it is either up to the universe or to us as its children ourselves to give it a meaning. To fill it with life, with joy and laughter, with justice, with love and spiritual awakening. Experience existence with adventure and love for life.
Q: What was the happiest day in your life?
A: That was definitely the birth of my daughter. It was also one of the most intense moments of my life.
Q: Describe your soul in ten words?
A: Seeing – Feeling – Joy – Suffering – “The soul is all that is”!
Q: What color do you like?
A: When I see a rainbow, I like all of them.
Q: Do you have a pet?
A: I do have two cats. One female cat and one male cat. While the male cat is a typical family cat who seeks contact depending on its mood, the female cat is very shy and leads her own life.
Q: Do you like math? Wich is your favorite number and why!?
A: Mathematics is part of our lives and very much determines our society and everyday life. I consciously don’t pay any attention to it. My favorite number is the Seven. The seven is a magic number for me and has a symbolic meaning. The seven is self-confident and cannot be divided. Yes, it indicates the number of colors in the rainbow, or the steps of the scale in music. I mainly see harmony, beauty and purity.
Q: I saw in your pictures many chairs, stairs, windows, doors, as parts of people’s stories. Do you think the story matters, whether it’s a sad story or not? How do you feel after seeing their whole story?
A: I take the motif like it is, when I stroll through the city or village. I usually do not look for special stories, so it does not matter if it is about sadness or luck, or something different. Indeed I am very often surprised to see, what kind of photos I took. So, it is not kind of a plan or planed motif like people might think. It is different, when I get in contact with people, talking, drinking, spending time together. Then, I do see my pictures with different eyes.
Q: Do you remember all the stories, or are there some of them that impress you the most?
A: A lot of my photos come out of small stories. Definitely I remember a lot of my stories. Then I visited a barbers shop in turkey, I stayed for two hours talking with the people there and I was shaved at the end; or then I met a thai tour guide at an ancient greek site; I took a picture of an old couple behind their market stand and got a lifetime invitation; I shared a late breakfast with fishermen. Yes, indeed I found out I like to meet people and the stories that come out. I was asked several times, why I do not present the stories together with the pictures.
Q: Is your camera set to black-white or color and then process them? Do you use photo overlays and if so, are they made from camera or digital processing?
A: My camera is set to RAW, to the full information. I process them later.
No. The settings at my camera a quite common. I do not want to „overprocess“ my pictures, nor I do want to spent a lot of time to process the image. I think a good photo has something to tell, or like I think sometimes a soul. If it is the case, there is not need to change it.
Q: Do you think that image processing with the help of technology makes you less of an artist or not and why?
A: In the beginning I did indeed think so, but now it has become an important tool for me to translate my view of the object into a motif. I only use it discreetly and very carefully.
Q: Which is the best time for you to take photos?
A: Any time I feel to take photos is the right time! It is not about the time, it is about the mood.
Q: What is that advice to give to anyone who wants to make the world more beautiful?
A: You can only make the world better if you are at peace with yourself.
Q: If you can write 5 words note to a 10yrs-old person-what would it be?(or 80yrs-old)?
A: Don’t be afraid of anything!
Gunther says also: “Pictures never say anything about the beginning and they are silent about what comes next!” Some of Gunther’s works have been published in the BAV’s “Street Photography” 2021 book and “Power of the Color”2021.
Gunther Schweigert – exhibitions, awards, mentions:
EXPO PHOTOGRAPHY 2022
Estação, Canelas, Portugal
BOOK REVIEW “POWER OF COLOR” 2022
Bruxelles Art Vue I Bruxelles, Belgique
EXPO G3 ART CONTEMPORAIN GALLERY 2021
Bruxelles Art Vue I Bruxelles, Belgique
MONOVISIONS PHOTOGRAHY AWARDS 2021
Honorable Mention I Portrait Photography
EXPO BLACK & WHITE INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY AWARD
IMAGO 2021 I Mexico City, Mexico
BOOK REVIEW “STREET PHOTOGRAPHY” 2021
Bruxelles Art Vue I Bruxelles, Belgique
BOOK REVIEW “GENERAZIONI” 2020
Exhibit Around I dotART I Trieste, Italia
SELEZIONATI – URBAN 2020 PHOTO AWARDS
EXPO SWISS PHOTO CLUB AWARDS 2020
Gallery Katapult I Basel, Switzerland
FINALIST – LENSCULTURE CRITICS´S CHOICE 2020
EXPO URBAN 2020 PHOTO AWARDS
Museo del Territory di Carmons I Trieste, Italy
SIENA INTERNATIONAL PHOTO AWARDS 2020
Siena, Italy I Finalist – Documentary & Photojournalism
BLACK & WHITE INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY AWARD
IMAGO 2020 I Mexico City, Mexico
Gunther’s favorite subjects are: documentary photography, street and architecture in general monochrome, presenting in a subtle form the story of the characters immortalized in his photographs.
In his compositions, light and compositional structure emphasize the predominant visual elements (in this case shapes, structures, patterns), making together amazing images.
The geometric structure found most in Gunther’s compositions is based on the perspective placement of the compositional elements, even where they are placed frontally the perspective is felt by intense black that gives depth to the horizontal front.
We find in his images a placement of the compositional elements so as to create symmetries, progressions, rhythms with a domination in favor of the full versus the empty.
Gunther’s compositions are open compositions that invite the viewer to have a glimpse at the captured frame so that they can imagine or even feel the emotion offered by their content.
The primary visual elements in Gunther’s images are the line and shape that together through repetition effects create patterns, their expressiveness incorporating important information about the subject.
Gunther has compositions in which we meet color or as a center (accent) of interest to emphasize certain qualities in composition or color images that make you think of paintings made in different techniques, such as watercolor.
Gunther’s compositions abound in motifs and forms, in distinct, interesting, hard structures, geometrized in the urban landscape, remarkable in nature, but also vigorous or delicate in the case of human forms.
His compositions have subjects with brightly lit portions as well as deep shadows which leads to captivating images.
By separating the subject from its context, the visual elements of the image (shapes, textures) become configurations that do not constitute real representations of some objects, they become images that oscillate between op-art and abstract.
We can discover in Gunther’s compositions means of plastic expression such as: value contrast, symmetry of motifs, shapes (progression by increasing or decreasing), rhythm arranged in different directions (horizontal, vertical, spiral), rhythmic cells, their balance being given of the points of interest.
His characters (the people photographed by Gunther) have more or less natural attitudes, captured at the moment when they manifested themselves according to their desire, with controlled, restrained, or imposing movements. They are graceful, solemn or modest characters with concentrated, meditative, natural or inexpressive attitudes and expressions and who can emanate sadness or joy, ecstasy or melancholy, strength or dignity…
Using the Raw module, Gunther, with a focus on textures, tones, contrasts, the play of light in the frame, reflections, creates compositions that go beyond color, enriching the emotional content.
Gunther’s compositions are moments captured in time that give the impression of serenity, regardless of their emotional content.
I could associate Gunther’s compositions with some poems that illustrate feelings of: abandonment, degradation, happiness, unhappiness, joy, sadness, peace, restlessness, depth, mystery, passion …
Through his amazing compositions he presents us with fragments of the poetry of life, man and his influence on the environment, and with them a incursion into the world of human emotions.
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