In the spotlight today, I like to present you the very talented photographer Jörg Heidenberger who amazed many of us with his unusual perspectives and situations in his outstanding work. In almost all his photographs the male model stands in the center. The editorial office of the journal “Stern” quotes: “His pictures are precisely through-composed, surreal stagings.”
Dear Jörg, can you briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs?
My name is Jörg Heidenberger and I was born 48 years ago in a small village in Franconia, Germany. Since many years I am earning my living as a systems- programmer at IBM Mainframes. As an outlet for my creative ambitions and after some experimenting with charcoal and pastels, I discovered for myself a few years ago, that photography did it for me. Normally, I do not accept any orders but take pictures depending on my mood and only for my own pleasure. For me photography should be fun and it is a perfect escape from our everyday life. Besides photography I love movement like running, climbing, biking and other activities.
What first attracted you to photography and how do your history and life experiences affected your work?
My first pictures were classic shots with a SX-70 (Polaroid). The camera belonged to my father and in those days I was more thrilled by the technology than by photography itself. After many years away from photography and after having tried a Nikon Coolpix and a Canon EOS20D, I started working some years ago with my current camera; the EOS 5D Mark II. The 5D was for me the initial spark and since that day I would describe myself as a passionate photographer.
Sometimes I wonder if I should have studied photography and if that would have resulted in me making better and /or other pictures. On the other hand, as a self-taught photographer I have perhaps a different, more unbiased approach and also more fun pursuing photography, because I am always discovering new things and am developing myself. Probably I should invest more energy in digital image processing! But when a picture forms itself first in my head, I am often too impatient to implement elaborate post-processing and to sit long hours in front of a PC. The finished picture is for that reason often just a rudimentary version of my virtual sketches. But because I now know that my idea works (or sometimes also doesn’t), I am also completely satisfied with it.
I have been following and admiring your work since you became a member of 1x. You have found your own and unique style. Your work is exclusively black and white.
What made you choose it and why are you so drawn to it?
Well, I my opinion a thought , much as a body needs no color. I love the beauty, the clarity of lines and purity of images. You will also find color pictures in my work and sometimes a picture needs some colors but I very much prefer black & white images.
Even if I decide in favor of color versus black-and-white spontaneously for each picture, the result is usually black-and-white.
Your photographs display the inherent beauty of the male nude while more than 90% of the Fine Art Nudes are female nudes. Can you tell us why you made this choice?
If I have an idea, I must convert these immediately and exactly. Due to excessive sport activity during my earlier years, I have fortunately an exercised (male) body and my own model for my pictures. This way I’m able to realize the pictures (normally) nearly exactly following my virtual sketch and there is no need to wait for a model. Unfortunately, patience is not always one of my strengths.
Beside the wonderful aesthetic, all your photographs tell us a strong story! What is more important to you, the mood behind your images or the technical perfection?
Technical perfection is definitely not my primary aim and the mood is much more important to me. Sometimes I just like to create an aesthetic image but to take a picture is also a way to express my thoughts and to tell what I like or dislike. Sometimes it’s like a scream and a way to protect me from exploding..
What generally is your relationship to your models and do you prepare the staging carefully before your photo sessions?
For the most part, model and photographer are just one person and it’s pretty easy to get what I want. I need only a remote release and a tripod. Sometimes my body isn’t flexible enough to realize my ideas, but mostly it works well and the final picture reflects the original idea. Often the process from idea to final picture needs very little time and that makes me very happy. Other pictures needs days to weeks until I’m able to realize them and unfortunately I often loose the patience and forget about them.
What is your overall vision and approach of Fine Art photography?
Simply passion and joy at form, the human body and movement.
May I ask you about your thoughts on how your process works from the choices you make before you press the shutter till the choices you make in the digital darkroom?
Maybe my way is a little unprofessional. First there is a virtual sketch and I try to capture this thought with my camera. I arrange things or bodies (mostly my own body), take care for the light and try to get the perfect perspective. I work without mirrors or something else to check the shoot and it’s necessary to have a clear vision of the final shoot. I love available light but for the cube series for example, I had to use a flash to get the desired look. At that moment I don’t think about post processing. The digital darkroom is a completely new step and sometimes I’m surprised about the final image.
What gear and software do you use to process your images?
At the moment I still work with a Canon EOS 5D/II, a variety of canon lenses, some studio strobes and, very importantly, tripod and remote release.
Who are the photographers / artists that have inspired you the most and how has your appreciation of their work affected your approach to your own photography?
My inspirational favorites are Helmut Newton and Herb Mitts, as well as Symon Broderick for his awesome Black & White images and Michal Micky for his Series “Flagellates”. Rene Magritte is also one of my favorite artists and I love his surreal view of the world. I guess in my recent work (not on 1x yet) you could see his influence. With Ritts, I share the fascination for the (male) body. Maybe Michal Micku will inspire me to find a new way to express my thoughts. I’m fascinated with the connection of photography and technical creativity.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a great deal and why?
The most inspiring pictures at the moment are from the artist photographer Michal Macku.
I love his creativity and I think the process is amazing. Every picture is unique and an amazing piece of art.
Describe your favorite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
There is one picture I like very much. Maybe it’s not my best one, but it was the start for my cube series and gave my photography a new direction. Therefore it means a lot to me.
What is your most important advice for a beginner in Fine Nude Art Photography and how do you get started?
I guess you have to respect the human body and the person in front of the camera. The human body, the lighting for the shape of muscles is very inspiring for my and I could spend hours watching moving persons like dancers, climber or gymnasts. I guess passion is really the key.
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?
Oh yes, at the moment I’m thinking about a new series – again with focus of the male or maybe the female body. There is a rudimentary sketch in my mind which could be potentially a new theme but the idea is not quite thought through. Maybe sooner or later, depending on the right timing.
If you were to sum up yourself and your thoughts about photography into a few simple words, what would those words be?
Passion, to dive into an other world, to express me and my thoughts.
And finally, one more question: May I ask you for your personal vision of 1X as a home base for your work?
I guess it’s difficult to rate your own work and Facebook ‘Likes’ for example are a little superficial in my view. When I discovered 1X, I was thrilled about an amazing artist and I also wanted to know if the curators would like my work. I hope 1X will help me to improve my skills and get new impulses.