Holger Droste’s black and white work is most inspiring and has a huge visual impact. His images are stunning and evoke strong emotions. He quotes: “Photography is a part of my soul, my Art is surreal realism”. See for yourself and discover more about Holger in this interview.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your job and hobbies.
I am 64 years old and a child of the Ruhr area. Live with my wife in a small suburb of Dortmund. Other ‘members of the family’ are a black English Setter, two Blue Headed Parrots and the football club BVB Borussia Dortmund who all give us a lot of joy :-)
I am now retired, working as a self-employed technician for heating systems a little further, so that it is stress-free and more fun and also a considerable benefit to health. There is now enough time for my photography, which I also use extensively and enjoy.
How have your history and life experiences affected your photography? Which are your most important experiences that have influenced your art?
This has a lot to do with my home in the Ruhr area (one of the cultural centres of Europe). There are few places where you can experience such strong opposites, be it the urban architecture and landscape, with it‘s contrast between the old industrial culture and the modern world. It is an exciting cultural melting pot, which is always inspiring, and for me as a human being with camera the ideal realm for the photographic sense.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
As a person I am very open-minded to all new things but as a photographer I have an emotional connection to the past and old pictures of my childhood. I love to bring back the past back to life, because my imagination knows no boundaries.
My photographic vision is also inspired by the old black and white Film classics of the Film Noir period of the 40 + 50s with actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles, Peter Lorre. Also the Italian neorealism of Roberto Rosselini or Vittorio de Sica (a good example is the film Bicycle Thieves) That is the origin of my tendency to dark pictures.
Your work is very diversified. Why are you so drawn to so many different styles? Because I am a curious person and always have to try something new,my basic style emerges (which I call - surreal realism) in which I photograph real objects that I then embellish by means of manipulations with small secrets, so that in these images a special surreal effect arises
What is more important for you , the mood, story behind your images or the technical perfection?
The technical perfection is not so important to me, only with architecture or if architectural elements are present in the picture one should pay attention to harmony, for me the mood and history is important, above all an image must have expression and soul.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer? Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photography?
This is not to be answered specifically, the relationship to a model must be characterized by mutual sympathy and trust, and the photographs chosen so that the intimacy is preserved. All other things I photograph freely creative, especially the street photography is always spontaneous and not much to be planned for.
What photographic gear do you use?
I still have 2 analogue cameras: A Nikon FA and a Rolleiflex with which I still like to photograph, despite the digital age and I enjoy the photographic feeling of the ’Back to the Roots’ and the unachievable effect of old black and white films. I started with the Canon cameras 20 D - 50 D as well as the full - format 5D - 5D II and a few Canon lenses, but since I was more and more attracted to street photography, I sold the big and heavy Canon equipment, kept only that 5D Mark II with the 24-105mm lens for special purposes and selected the small system cameras from Fujifilm. I use a Fuji XT 10 with different Fujinon fixed focal lengths and a few good old Nikkor AI lenses with adapter for use on the Fuji XT10, and a Fuji X 30 which I take with me at all times.
What software do you use to process your images?
As editing software I use Photoshop CS 6, the Nik filter and for my vintage style the program Exposure 6 by Alien Skin, which is very much to be recommended.
Can you tell us something more about your workflow?
My workflow for picture processing is different and always depends on the particular motif, sometimes I edit a picture spontaneously or by feeling and as the results do not lie, I forget many editing steps and must always improvise again :-) But that may not be a disadvantage, perhaps my pictures would otherwise look all too much like each other.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in photography and how does one get started?
Just get started taking pictures and do not get stressed out when the photo results are not so satisfactory. Exercise makes the master, read photographs, do not hide the pictures, but go into the photo community to get feedback on pictures, even critical feedback. And please do not always buy the latest camera, but the old acquaintance first, which helps tremendously. (This is like in real life with his or her loved ones: -) and if you are on a good path, please register at 1x!
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected your approach to your own photography?
Since I am influenced by the film Noir, of course, also the old masters of black and white photography inspire me: Henry Cartier Bresson, Robert Doisneau or Sally Mann, Walker Evans and I love the street photography of Vivien Meyer! But they all have the irreplaceable advantage that their pictures are already 50 or 70 years old, so they have a wonderful style and charm, which has an enormous, fantastic effect on today's viewers.
So dear photographers do not despair. I think that our photographs in 50 or 70 years will have the same effect on future generations as the old masters have on us today :-)
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a great deal and why?
I like the art of the Russian photographer Alexey Titarenko from St. Petersburg, who created very emotional works with an old analogue camera and the strong personal images of Francesca Woodman, who unfortunately took her own life at the age of 22 years.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
No, I do not pursue any specific goals in photography, maybe getting a little better, or something very big would be if my pictures had such an expressive power that they would be all associated with me :-) No, I feel very good at the moment. My perception of photography does not interfere with perceiving life around me. Photography is synergistic.
Describe your favourite photographs taken by you and why they are special to you?
Yes, that is very difficult to answer, a favourite photograph, from me? I have a special relationship with each photo and every time I experience an intense situation that is more or less emotional, and I cannot evaluate those feelings.
Perhaps this photograph comes closest to my personality
Is there anything else you wish to add? And what do you think about 1x as a home base for your work?
Yes of course, 1x is awesome and inspires my imagination again and again.
I am glad that I could do this interview with you dear Yvette, the good soul of 1x and a very valued photographer,:-)