quotes : 'With the camera I can finally show the pictures that I have always had in my head and make them accessible to others. Some of these pictures have been with me for a long time.'
Roland likes particularly architecture photography and landscape photography too. He loves to play with light and to create his vision and perception of the surroundings to share it with the viewers. He is still in search of his very own style but already succeeds to provide us amazing and outstanding photographs.
I invite you to enjoy Roland's work and personality through this fine interview.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, Roland.
I cannot believe it myself, but I am 60 years old. I live in Germany, right between Heidelberg and Mannheim. After a solid education and some years as a volunteer in the German Army I did change the subject and started working as a Medical Engineer. After years of travelling all around the globe, I am now working for a diagnostics company in my area. I did travel to so many countries, have hosted so many nations in my house that I hardly can count all of them.
Besides photography I try spending a reasonable amount of time on my race-bicycle and I learned not to carry out the two hobbies at the same time.
I have to say that the pandemic and the time spend in my home office had a heavy impact on me. Sometimes I have the feeling that I lost something. It seems that my muse has other duties at the moment. Travelling was always an inspiration and to be honest, I miss the ocean and the sound of the waves.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
Being a child from the 60's and growing up during the time of the cold war and a separated Germany, it was first of all the comic books from that time as well as famous books like “Lord of the Rings” and the popular science fictions stories and movies who inspired me. Superheroes, new worlds, space travel, robots and the universe, a clear distribution of good and evil, all of that somehow, had a huge influence on me and on my perceptions.
Some painters influenced me a lot too, just to name classic once like William Turner or Casper David Friedrich playing with expressions and light. They were able to create worlds and stories of their own, and also showed those worlds which I did imagine from books and movies. I have photo postcards from their paintings in my drawer, and I still look at them to get ideas for light and mood.
What first attracted you to photography?
As for photography I did start late and… I did start digitally right away. It was the view through the viewfinder that attracted me. I could not believe how much the world around me changed while looking through it. I found a way to express my perceptions and suddenly there was an open field of opportunities from which I could keep on learning for eternity.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
I still do enter my private world when looking through the viewfinder. Leaving all others behind, allowing only me to enter that world, I can easily play with perspectives and create my own look on things. It is very important to find a way to express my own private perception and point of view.
Every photo published is a view into my private world and an expression of all the things I experience and see around me. That is what I want to share with others.
Why are you so drawn by Architecture and Abstract Photography?
I could state that I was too lazy for landscape photography. I was not willing to stay up long, too hike for hours or getting up so early to chase the right moment in the right light.
I definitely have to say that I was more influenced by photos from other architecture photographers who somehow, triggered me much more than looking at nice landscape images. Watching those photos, I often couldn't believe they were real, so I tried to come up with some similar photos. Later on, I realized that this was exactly the way and the style I wanted to pursue.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Good question. We all know that technically perfection is the only thing which really can be measured on a photo. And many viewers hook on to that as it is the easiest to get from a photo. But we also learned that a good photo does not just care about technical perfection. I am clearly going for the mood or the story behind my photos. Showing mood in architectural photographs is often difficult, but I always try to convey at least my feelings which is difficult too. I truly think that the photographer as well as the viewer must share a common feeling.
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?
Now, mostly I try to share my feelings or my personal mood and how I did experience the area or the subject matter. Sometimes I want to say: “Look, that is how I did see it”. I don’t want to take photos just for documentation purposes, but I also know how long the way is till a story and an emotion can be expressed in one photo.
When travelling, I prefer to look for interesting locations in the surrounding area. The Internet offers enough possibilities for that. Knowing the area allows me to travel quickly to the target, to make decisions about the equipment and to what I might expect beside. But I am always eager to find subjects off the mainstream, I try to stay sharp for surprises as I am also a big fan of making totally “different photos” from well-known locations.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
Oh, that is quickly answered. I am travelling with small luggage. I have a Sony Alpha 7RII and two lenses. A 16-35 mm f/4 and a 24-105 mm f/4. In addition, I carry standard filters, ND and gradient, a solid tripod and that’s it.
I have been through many cameras and lenses, just to learn that limitation helps to concentrate on the photo and on the subject to “get the right one” prior to the release of the shutter. 'A photo is made behind the camera', as mentioned so often. And that is the truth one has to learn over time.
What software do you use to process your images?
Here, I think I am part of the “gold standard”, like many others. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, on top the NIK collections. I did try a lot of tools and gadgets but always came back to build my workflow with those programs. One more reason for this personal choice is also the basic knowledge and a lot of additional information, tips and tricks, can be find easily on Internet.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
Also here, I am sure that I cannot tell much news. I am importing, applying keywords making automated backups and marking photos with Lightroom first. I do my selection on photos and start working on just some selected ones. The good ones make it to Photoshop for the final touch. The Nik-Collections are additional tools to find new creative ways and also often is an invitation to play around and to try new things.
For sure, the workflow differs a little bit depending on the photo, sometimes I am done in a few minutes, sometimes it can take even days to finish the work.
Normally I know in advance how I want to process a photo, but it is important to mention, that I look at older photos to find out if I can use them to create a new work. Developing skills also allows to give older photos a completely new meaning and a “second chance”.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Architecture and Abstract Photography and how do you get started?
Practice, practice, practice. Look around, see as many photos as you can. It was never so easy than today to do that. Even if your impression is that you will never reach the level of those photos, practice.
Here in Germany, Photography is a craft occupation. Means three years of full-time education.
Try to spend that time next to your job… that will take a few years to catch up just with the basic education. And beside taking photos, learn to handle your post-processing tools. Nowadays, software is a modern substitute for the analogue work done in the dark room. Finally, the skills and techniques remain similar.
For Architecture and Abstract Photography, it is very important to train your eyes and to fully understand perspectives. You need to … correct and practice, practice, practice!!!
I am learning since years and to be honest, I didn't found any shortcuts in the learning process.
Last words on that: Continue to take photos... That means steadily learning.
If you stop learning, your start ageing !!!
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Living near Mannheim in Germany, it is easy to find the tracks of great photographers.
The first to name is Robert Häusser, who once mentioned that “colour was too "chatty" for him".
That's a statement and it took me a while to understand it. It is in my mind since I did visit, less or more accidentally, one of his exhibitions. Believe it or not, I was just looking for some shelter from the pouring rain...
Then Horst Hamann. A view to his photos, especially the vertical once, explains easily which things can be done with a camera, with passion and an idea. His work is a very good inspiration for me and indeed, I still find it difficult not to copy him.
One of my other favourites is . His photos are popular and not only on 1X. His work influenced me very much. His vision and style are always a challenge for me. I think Wolfgang’s photos trigger me quite often to keep on trying new things and to continue learning. Thank you for that, Wolfgang.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
This is one of Wolfgang Mothes’ photos and today I'm still wondering how he did it !!!
The first time that I saw it, I hardly could believe how he got that selective light, the shades and the amazing perspective. That question drove me to learn more about the technique to make those magnificent black & white photos. And still, I have the strong impression those photos were taken by night with a strong torch. You can't imagine how often I appeared a bit tired at my office.
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?
One of my previous goals – and that is not a joke - was to get one photo published on 1X. At the time, I looked up to 1x like a child in front of a giant. But now, 1X learned me not to be afraid of colours anymore.
When travelling will be possible again, I'm planning to visit several Architectural highlights in the future. But my list gets longer and longer. My learning path will continue, and I will always follow my inspiration and new ideas, though I cannot define a specific goal, yet.
Meanwhile I discover again the possibilities here at home and I think going back to Comic adaptions, space adventures and also drawings and the basics of composition.
It’s too early to call it a project but my head is full of ideas.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
A while ago, I was living in Barcelona for some time and discovered the Port Forum. It’s a place outside the city with a big marina. The place is mostly abandoned, and I had the feeling that locals were avoiding this location. Sometimes it is used as a meeting point and sometimes as a shelter for the sun.
The amount of concrete there is really unbelievable, it is a complete sterile place. It would fit even on a different planet. On top, the sun takes most of the colours away and just keeps strong contrasts. No need to mention how hot it was there, I guess ?
And then, there is the Photovoltaic superstructure of it.
I visited the place a couple of times though it was really strange to me. The whole setup did reflect my mood and feelings at that time. Being alone in a foreign city, overwhelmed by strange impressions such as language, culture, people and habits, just looking for a place to be covered.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
Today, 1X is certainly a home base for my work. When I joined I didn't feel 'ready' at all but really got a 'kick'. At the beginning I was almost 'shocked' by the high level and quality of the amazing works. For me, that was exactly the inspiration and the challenge I needed to increase my skills.
'The wind is hard and blowing from the front', especially when it comes to curation and critique. But one should not forget that the written word appears harder than the spoken word and that the feedback and critiques are about the images and not targeting persons.
Grandísima entrevista de uno de los mejores fotógrafos que hay en España
Thanks so much...
Wolfgang Mothes PRO
So, jetzt habe ich alles in Ruhe gelesen und bin echt gerührt über deine lieben Worte zu meiner Fotografie. Herzlichen Dank hierfür, lieber Roland! Wir lernen alle voneinander und inspirieren uns gegenseitig. Dein Bild "Under the Pergola" zum Beispiel ist ein Meisterwerk und gehört für mich zu den besten Architekturbildern, die ich hier seit langem gesehen habe. Herzlichst Wolfgang
Vielen Dank, Wolfgang. Jetzt hast du die "Rührung" gezielt zurück gegeben. Du weißt ja, ich halte mich ran und ich finde es erstaunlich, das mir jetzt doch das eine oder andere gelingt. Es ist die Zeit, auch mal was zurück zu geben. Danke dir...
Erhard Batzdorf PRO
Hi Roland, Great insight into your work and congratulations on the appreciation. I was fascinated by your confident use of the colour blue in architecture. Keep it up! Thanks also to Yvette for her commitment.
Yvette Depaepe CREW
Thank you, dear Erhard !
Thanks a lot, Erhard. Well appricated words.
Wolfgang Mothes PRO
Herzlichen Glückwunsch, lieber Roland, zu dieser Würdigung, die du dir redlich verdient hast. Auf die Schnelle: Wegen akuten Zeitmangels habe ich es noch nicht gelesen, wollte dir aber als einer der Ersten gratulieren! Go on!
Wayne Pearson PRO
Stunning dynamic architectural photography Roland, and very interesting background and ethos, thank you very much and congratulations! Thank you very much to Yvette for her incredible energy to make these features really interesting and educational, congratulations Yvette!