German based photographer Karl A Herrmann’s work is, in some ways dictated by the vagaries of coincidence. Away from the boundaries of a set theme to explore the images that he takes in “rapid succession” it is the images which dictate the themes. The process and selection is instinctive and less confined by logic meaning the images have a natural bias to the abstract world. In that world we are drawn into blurred “ghost like” images that are strange and yet simultaneously familiar.
Talk about some of the great German photographers who had an impact on you.
You were initially working as an architect and then as a screen writer.
It was a continued development. All three disciplines are focused on pictures and the imagination. Architectural space and the skills you need in the film world were and are part of the foundation to the way I approach photography and indeed the style that is evident in the photographic images I create and select.
At selection I must instantly have the feeling of a mood or a hidden or obvious story-an image must catch me in a few seconds.
We love the fact that you were self-taught in photography and dark room techniques. Talk us through that time it must have been challenging?
Absolutely challenging for sure. A classic act of creation, to visualize your imagination with handcrafted skills. A challenge, because in the dark room you need to get a feeling for what you are doing. In analogue photography you don’t have that time or chance really to control the results of the images that you take. Once they are taken that is it really and you are just waiting to see what you have captured.
We are aware you state candidly that you were quiet for a while due to the digital age-what brought you back to photography?
It was more my criticism of the digital photography-a mass culture process further forced by the business marketing machine. In architecture I had already seen how computers, or the digital age had forced architecture to change and acquiesce to the digital age. For me new techniques are usually not successful because of the results of that new technique but rather the success comes from the fact that they are seen as ‘new’. People consequently want this new ‘thing’ irrespective of the results.
You seem a steadfast lover of digital now is that correct and how does it enhance your work?
It was essential for me to find a way to photograph in a digital way. I did not want to create analogue images to be created in the digital world. The main element of my work is the mass production. Many images in very short time. In some way I have perverted this mass production, by taking countless images of coincidence.
‘act of shooting has moved from taking to the selection of a photo and deleting others’ talk about this process and how it aides the work you create?
I’m taking huge series of photos not caring exactly about the motive. The act of creativity has changed from taking the image into the selection. In some ways I am my own viewer. In that first initial viewing of the images I have taken I delete many images. I only select an image if in the first few seconds it connects with me or makes me react emotionally. This process allows me to talk in a very intuitive way to the viewers. In many ways I feel one could even go as far as to say that in some ways I talk to the viewers on a subconsciousness level.
You state an image must connect with you in the first few seconds can you elaborate on that?
At selection I must instantly have the feeling of a mood or a hidden or obvious story-an image must catch me in a few seconds. For sure also composition, colour, light and shadow must have an aesthetic quality. I never cut my photos more than about 10-15 percent. For an image to have an impact at the first moment it must be at full size.
Discuss the technical aspects of some of your work like Mars where you step into colour.
For the Mars images I used a long exposure time and a controlled movement of the camera. This pure abstract set of images allowed me to give them an enhancing colour to increase the character of the composition and the mood.
Talk about distortion and blurring in your images-there’s seems to be this idea/theme of things being obscured.
I use various kinds of movements in my images. Often the objects in the images are moving at the same time, so that means that the results can never be planed or controlled. For many people the impression is obscured or ghost like, but I think it is also a way to get rid of the daily surfaces, which makes the world much more beautiful, than it is. The visible reality often is like a mask.
Lastly, architecture and photography-how do the two disciplines blur for you?
For sure, many of my images are showing rudiments of architectural structures and show how the penetration of architecture and figures work together. But the main way my architectural education influenced my photography is the impression of space. Even if an image is a pure abstract composition I need to have an aspect of space within the image.