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Wolfgang Mothes: Photographer of the week

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 23th of November 2020

Wolfgang Mothes  has a huge passion for art and aesthetics which led  him to excel in architecture photography.  Very important to him is that his work impresses the viewer and appeals to both, the heart and the soul.  Above that he strives all the time for technical perfection.
His goal always has been to reach his authentic way and own artistic approach. 
Let's wander through his work  and agree that he fully succeeded in his goal by sharing magnificent photographs wearing unmistakeably his signature.


'Berlin 1'


Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, dear Wolfgang.
I am a lawyer by profession and have worked for 30 years exclusively for the Federal State of Hessen which I represented in court.
My heart belongs not only to photography, but also to my beloved football club Eintracht Frankfurt, whose home games I have been attending since time immemorial.


How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
In my profession I had to be very structured and methodical, and this certainly influenced my photography. Whenever possible, I plan my shots ahead and then go to the already selected location with the right equipment. The weather also plays a major role: I prefer shooting under an overcast sky, so the sun can't spoil my work with undesirable shadows. I find my motifs through consistent scouting. For many years I've been keeping Windows folders for selected cities, for example, in which I save the interesting motifs I have found on television, in magazines or on the web. Google Earth is a great help in this.


What first attracted you to photography?
I have been interested in photography since I was a child and read photography primers and textbooks in my youth without even having a decent camera. My interest was also greatly encouraged by the fact that my father had bought a Leica late in the fifties. However, my brother and I were only allowed to watch him take rather mediocre pictures with a great camera. My dad was the world champion in overexposure!


Describe your overall photographic vision.
I do not have a great artistic vision, nor a sense of mission. People born in the zodiac sign of Libra are said to have a special passion for art and aesthetics. For me, it's all about showing beauty and making aesthetically appealing pictures. So it all comes down to that.





'Winged Theater'



'Sharp like a razorblade'

Why are you so drawn by Architecture and Abstract Photography?
For my favourite kind of photography I need peace and concentration. Architecture photography provides both. I can rely on my motifs not to run away or make trouble when I show up with camera and tripod. I enjoy the flow-effect, which usually comes up during the shooting and also during the following image editing.
However, this is not to say that I do not value other categories of photography. It is with great pleasure that I look at all sorts of other pictures, whether black and white or colour, and I absolutely appreciate the achievements of those photographers.


'everything flows II'



'Omega House'





What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
All that matters to me is what impression a picture makes on the viewer. A picture should appeal to the heart and soul, and this is most important. All the better if it is technically perfect on top of it.


'Escher's Home II'



'Heart of Stone II'



'Stairwy to...?'


What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
Like I said before: As long as circumstances permit, I prepare myself in the best possible way. If this is not feasible, for example on holiday trips, in the rush of the situation as I find it, I try to make do with what there is. My motto here is: The worst picture is always the one that has not been taken.


What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I have recently started using the Sony Alpha 7 R IV and Sony/Zeiss lenses 16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm. But most of all I use the Zeiss-Batis lens 2,8/18mm. And not to forget: the Fisheye lens. My tripod is usually a Manfrotto Carbon and I use Tamrac photo backpacks.


What software do you use to process your images?
As RAW converter I use DxO and for the actual image processing Photoshop CC and NIK Silver-Efex.


Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
The fact, that I've been taking only analogue photographs for 30 years and also had my own darkroom, has naturally influenced my work. Ansel Adams was the one who put me on my way . He wrote three comprehensive and excellent textbooks. As an autodidact I worked through them meticulously and photographed exclusively according to the zone system. This knowledge still helps me immensely today.

My most important stylistic device is working with contrast. By this I do not mean the total contrast of a picture, but the so-called partial contrast between individual parts of it. This, of course, requires selections which I painstakingly do in Photoshop, often working on these for hours, sometimes even days. The attached picture from the steelworks is my current record holder in terms of the sheer number of selections: 211 in total!


'Heavy Metal'


What is your most important advice to a beginner in Architecture and Abstract Photography and how do you get started?

* Ask yourself why you want to take this particular picture and then try to realize your idea by photographic means.

* Use a tripod whenever possible.

* Take your time, work slowly and focused; the tripod will help you. Your goal should not be a fast upload to the net, but a well-elaborated picture. Don't shy away from long hours of working on a picture.

* Look at as many pictures as possible from architectural photographers and try to find out why a picture is particularly appealing to you.

* Read photo magazines and textbooks.

If you can learn from other people easily, attend workshops. However, this is not for me. I'm the archetypical autodidact, but I've heard from many others that a workshop can be helpful.


Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography? 
Frankly speaking, I don't have a photographic idol or anyone that I'd like to emulate, but, of course, I know a host of photographers, from all photographic fields, whose work I greatly admire. There are some of them right here at 1X.


Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?  
I have thought about this for quite some time, but what I said above applies here too: There are hundreds of great pictures out there, but I'd be hard-pressed to point out one that would stand out above all others.


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?
When I keep hearing that my pictures are unmistakable, that I have my own style, I feel very pleased indeed, because, throughout the years I have photographed, this has always been my goal. I kind of feel I have arrived; I have reached my authentic way of photography and my very own artistic approach.
If I were 30 years younger, my answer would certainly be different. Right now, I'd be glad if I could go on for some more time taking pictures that show beauty as I see it and sharing it with others.


Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you? 
Even at the risk of being a bore, I must say that there is no favourite photograph of mine. But I could at least pick out two which mean a lot to me for different reasons:
One is a 40-year-old picture of an old man who has fallen asleep sitting on a bench. Above and behind him, a magazine was advertised on a billboard with the face of a model-type young woman and the words “Holen Sie mich doch ab” which in English means "Why don't you pick me up?". What a stark contrast to the lonely old man!

At the time I partly financed my studies with a photographer's job for a local newspaper and came across that scene on my way to a photo shoot. That picture was a veritable “winner”. It was not only printed many times in photo magazines, but also won a (modest) prize or two.



The second picture is probably known to some people here. It shows a tower of the Deutsche Bank, photographed through some kind of an opening. The opening was part of a large sculpture in front of the Deutsche Bank building. I had to crawl literally into that thing while I was holding my big old camera. This creeping and crawling action was unfortunately very much affected by the fact that the poor work of art had unmistakably been misused for a public toilet. That was a tough one, that day, I can tell you! Maybe that's why I like it so much.


'Deutsche Bank'


Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
There are two things I'd like to point out: First of all, let me say how much I appreciate the fact that I found a home base here at 1X. Not only can I present my pictures in a most professional way, I also have the chance to make nice contacts with many great photographers and friendly people from all over the world.

Secondly, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank my wife, who has not only supported my hobby for 46 years, but also doubled as my personal "art director": Having finished a photo, I ask my wife to do the final check. She sees the flaws I overlook. Without her approval no picture leaves my computer! If not for her I wouldn't be the one I am today: Thank you, Uta!


'Kranhaus II'



'Silver Tower'











Wolfgang, My compliments for all your great work and an interesting interview
Thank you very much, Theo!
Dear Wolfgang, my warmest compliments on this excellent, interesting, and inspiring interview. I follow your photographs closely as architecture is a major interest of mine; you are incredibly talented photographer with your own identified imprint. Thanks for sharing your story and your excellent photographs and thanks to Yvette who makes the interviews such a delight.
Thank you very much for your kind comment, Arnon! I'm very happy about it and feel honored!
Tolle Aufnahmen und interessante Hintergründe im Interview. Vor allem die Inszenierung von Licht in s/w faszinieren mich. LG Martin
Vielen lieben Dank für deinen Kommentar, Martin!
Lieber Wolfgang, ich bin begeistert von Deinem Interview. In weiten Teilen sprichst Du mir aus der Seele, es war mir eine Freude, Einblick in Deine Arbeit erhalten zu haben. Liebe Grüße Ute
Herzlichen Dank für deinen lieben Kommentar, Ute! Über deine Anerkennung freue ich mich sehr!
Hallo Wolfgang, meinen herzlichen Glückwunsch zu dieser verdienten Auszeichnung. Diese Auszeichnung "Photographer of the week" war schon längst überfällig. Die Architektur so brinsant und genial darzustellen und zu bearbeiten, ist schon eine ganz große Kunst. Deine Bilder habe ich schon im Fachbuch "Architektur in Schwarzweiß" von Thomas Brotzler sehr bewundert. Many thanks to Yvette for the great interview.
Thank you, Adam! It was a pleasure to interview such a great artist as Wolgang is!
Ich freue mich sehr über deine Anerkennung, Adam! Vielen Dank!
Dear Wolfgang My sincerest congratulations and acknowledgments. I love your photographs and I follow them with great interest. Congratulations on your photographs, your publications and for this interview. Sincerely
Thank you very much for your kind words, Jois! I'm very glad that you like my pictures!
Einen Glückwunsch auch von mir.
Vielen Dank, Jörg!
Herzlichen Glückwunsch zu dieser verdienten Anerkennung, Wolfgang! Dein Blick für die Schönheit und Ästhetik von Architektur ist wirklich beeindruckend. Und genau das zeigst Du uns mit Deinen exzellenten und künstlerischen Fotografien. Vielen Dank Dir und Yvette für das tolle und sehr interessante Interview! Lieben Gruß Martina
Über deinen lieben Kommentar freue ich mich sehr, liebe Martina und fühle mich auch geehrt. Herzlichen Dank dafür!
Great interview and amazing photography. Congratulations Mr Wolfgang.
Thank you very much for your kind comment, Avra!
Great interview Wolfgang! Your pictures are truly inspiring and I always look forward to your next artwork!
Merci beaucoup pour votre appréciation, Louis-Philippe! Glad you like my pictures!
Amazing works, Wolfgang..congratulations!! Thank you for the excellent interview, Yvette!!
Thank you very much for your kind words, dear Josefina!
Congratulations with this title of "photographer of the week" Wolfgang. Great interview and marvelous pictures. Always a pleasure to look at. Keep on the superb work so you can suprise me more in the future . Also thanks for Yvette for making this interview possible.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Marc! Very much appreciated!
Hartelijke gelukwensen Wolfgang! I have read your story with interest and I found where the rigour and the perfection in your work comes from. I truly admire how you manage to create outstanding images from any building. Thanks for the interview dear Yvette :-))
Hartelijk bedankt, Luc! I am very happy about your kind and appreciative words - also because they come from a great photographer!
Sono rimasto stupefatto! Bravissimo!!!!
Grazie mille, Giuseppe!
Thanks, dear Xibiao!
Grandi fotografie, grandissimo fotografo.....e brava Uta per i consigli 😉
Grazie mille for your kind comment, Sergio!
Ganz herzlichen Glückwunsch, Wolfgang, zu dem gelungenen Interwiew aber vor allen zu den absolut granfiosen sw Bildern. In dieser Beziehung, bis Du für mich ein Quell der Inspiration. Die Handschrift Deiner Bilder ist unverkennbar und sie werden immer aus der "Masse" herausstechen. Die Auszeichnung "Photographer of the week" war schon längst überfällig. Daher gilt mein Dank auch Yvette, dass es nun endlich geklappt hat. Many thanks to Yvette for this great interview. Greetings (Grüße) Herbert
Thank you, Herbert. It was great to interview such an artist as Wolfgang is!
Über deine lieben Worte freue ich mich sehr und fühle mich auch sehr geehrt, Herbert! Herzlichen Dank! Du bist sozusagen mein fotografisches "alter ego": Du bist für's Helle zuständig, ich für's Dunkle! ;-)
Das hast Du aber schön gesagt. Ich bin der helle Teil der Waage (bin ein Okt.-Junge) Herzliche Grüße, Herbert
Hallo Wolfgang, auch ich stimme den anderen zu, ein wunderbares Interview. Mit Deiner Gabe des Sehens und des Bearbeitens Deiner fotografischen Eindrücke schafft Du immer wieder neue architektonische Kunstwerke, die man sich sonst in dieser Art hätte vorstellen können. Dein Workflow und Deine Lichtsetzung suchen ihresgleichen. Ich freue mich auf weitere spannenden Mothes - Arbeiten. Many thanks to Yvette for the Interview .
Many thanks, Rolf ;-)
Herzlichen Dank für deine lieben Worte, Rolf! Ich fühle mich sehr geehrt!
Thank you Wolfgang and Yvette for this excellent interview. I LOVE your outstanding and unique style of photography Wolfgang your work is a real inspiration to me and I am sure many, many other photographers who are attracted to architectural photography. Thank you both again, and please keep safe and incredibly healthy!
Thanks a lot for your appreciation, Wayne ;-)
Thank you so much for your kind words, Wayne! I feel very honored and wish you all the best for the future too!
Ich kann mich nur voll und ganz Brigittes und Wolfgangs Aussagen anschließen. Vielen Dank, lieber Wolfgang, für Deine Ansichten und Einsichten in DEINE Photographie. Ich bewundere alle Deine Aufnahmen, vor allem Deine einzigartige und immer erkennbare photographische Signatur und Handschrift. Bleibe gesund und munter, ganz viel Freude und Leidenschaft weiterhin für alle Deine Photographie-Projekte.
Herzlichen Dank über deine lieben Worte und auch die guten Wünsche, die ich sehr gerne erwidere. Deine Anerkennung bedeutet mir sehr viel!
Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Wolfgang. Deine Bilder sind für mich eine große Inspiration. Ich freue mich sehr, dass ich nun nicht nur deine Bilder kenne, sondern auch etwas über deinen Hintergrund erfahren kann.
Über deine Anmerkung freue ich mich sehr! Herzlichen Dank, Adam!
Hallo Wolfgang, ganz wunderbar dieses Interview hier zu lesen und dazu eine Auswahl Deiner besten Werke zu sehen. Das war längst überfällig. Es ist immer wieder spannend etwas über denjenigen hinter der Kamera zu erfahren. Nur weiter so. Freue mich über jedes neue Bild von Dir. Many thanks to Yvette for the interview
It was a real pleasure to me, Hans-Wolfgang! Thanks for your appreciation...
Herzlichen Dank, lieber Hans-Wolfgang! Ich freue mich sehr über deine Anerkennung aus berufenem Munde!
Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Wolfgang. Ich bin total begeistert von Deinen Fotos und von Deinem Interview. Danke auch Yvette ! Gruß Brigitte
Thanks dear Brigitte! I'm extremely proud to be able to present this interview with Wolfgang in the 1x magazine ;-)
Herzlichen Dank, liebe Brigitte! Ich freue mich sehr über deine Anmmerkung!