Interviews with worldwide photographers www.moments-collective.com
...Well it is rather my inner, emotional world, which I project onto the already existing one...
Bjoern Kupper is a German photographer permanently residing in Greece since 2009. Since the early age of two, he was traveling through numerous countries of the world together with his parents, always in a motor home, far away from any touristic destinations. Over the years, this way of life awarded him with a very open-minded, culturally diverse worldview. His parents got him his first camera at the age of seven. After exploring all kinds of photographic areas over the years, it was the seemingly artless, ordinary and yet emotionally and culturally suffused environment of the everyday, that captivated him. Here he finally found the way to directly implement his own emotional world and ethical values into the process of photographing, and in this way convey his personal perception of reality to the viewer.
We had the chance to make an interview with him and learn more about his work.
How did your studies in Cultural Anthropology affect your photographic style?
I think my studies were in some way a logical consequence to how I grew up, although initially it was more a coincidence that I slid into studying Cultural Anthropology. I learned a lot about cultural identities, human behavior and last but not least about human interaction, something that for sure has influenced the way I observe and approach the environment I find myself in each time. This consequently has as well affected my photographic style, as this knowledge has oftentimes helped me in terms of communicating, interacting and as well in better anticipating and handling certain situations.
Which other important artists/photographers would you list as influencers or inspiring?
Well, there are many photographers (as well less “famous” ones!) that influence(d) me in some way, I will mention three of the known ones here, of which I think, that their approach has had a certain impact on me.
He is for sure one of my favorite photographers – Henri Cartier-Bresson, best known to most people for his concept of “The Decisive Moment”. His humanist viewpoint, his approach to composing his photographs and finally his general averseness to the post-manipulation of his photographs, were pioneering in this photographic genre and substantially contributed to what is today perceived as modern photojournalism.
In terms of documentary photography, the work of Robert Cappa was and is way leading. His perspective and the emotional directness in his photography are one of a kind, and his unconditional determination an inspiration to every photographer.
Last but not least, I want to mention Ansel E. Adams. He counts among my favorite photographers, not only because of the striking beauty of his work and the quality of his photographs (exposure, clarity, depth, etc.), but because of his approach to photography. The term “visualization”, which he basically coined in the field of photography, is just one example.
How is a photograph created ? With an instinctive click on the road or after much thinking and controlling the external variables?
I think that instinct directly and as such is less of a component contributing to the creation of a photograph, specially if we define instinct as something innate, that needs a specific key stimulus to trigger a specific, instinctive reaction. If we again refer to the term “instinct” as something like a “gut feeling”, then again it plays a major role. Beyond our basic knowledge, our vision and the planning (thinking) we have done prior taking a photograph, it will always be our “gut feeling” that will tell us when to finally press the shutter button.
How important is the equipment that the photographer uses in order to create a good photograph?
There are amazing photos taken with a smartphone and as well indifferent ones taken with high-end gear; so it’s all relative I guess. As the well known saying goes: “The best camera is the one you are carrying with you!”. This is of course true, but it is kind of an extreme angle of view. Equipment plays a role, but in my opinion much less than many believe: In the end it will not make you a better photographer as such, but it can for sure support you in achieving better results.
What equipment do you use for shooting and how do you edit your photos?
Throughout the years I’ve literally gone through most major camera brands such as Minolta, Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Sony etc. It was the year 2016 though, when I proudly walked into one of my favorite photo stores in Germany with the intention to finally get my long desired, full-frame, beautifully retro-looking Nikon DF. This was though only until the guy on the other side of the counter said: “Have you already seen this?”. And he handed to me the new Fujifilm X-Pro2 (with the 27mm pancake lens). It was love at first sight and the beginning of a wonderful journey which since 2019 became a close partnership with Fujifilm Hellas (I’ll always be grateful for this!!). Editing wise, since 2019 I use Capture 1 as my main editing program, as it wonderfully handles the Fujifilm raw files.
What do you prefer, hunting or building a shot?
I guess it depends on the situation. In any case though, even when hunting, in my opinion a shot is being build, as we always chose a certain focal length, composition, angle of view etc. – even when hunting.
What goes on in your mind until you decide to take a photo?
I keep my vision in the back of my mind at all times – and along with it, the idea and planning of how to „materialize“ this vision. All this must then somehow be matched up with the actual surrounding and situation I find myself in.
What do you think about what Antoine d’Agata had said: “It’s not how a photographer looks at the world that is important. It’s their intimate relationship with it”?
This is a very wise and true statement. It is very important for a photographer not only to work with empathy, but moreover to personally know the situation (or subject) he is narrating about. To a full extend this is only possible, if he has experienced such specific situation himself. This of course becomes most essential, if a photographer is working on extremely sensitive, sometimes even taboo topics, that are as difficult to handle as the ones Antoine d’Agata is focussed on. Thus I think he is right, when he in other words says, that you need to experience a certain situation before you are able to correctly present it through photographs.
Through your work you present a world that already exists, or do you show a world that you would like to exist?
Well it is rather my inner, emotional world, which I project onto the already existing one in order to create a result of how I personally perceive the reality around me. So I think the answer lies somewhere in between.
From your project “A Sunday Walk”, in our opinion, shows the sweet melancholy of the Sunday mood. Please reveal your thoughts behind this project.
Basically the story behind this project is far less impressive than you expect. I was working and studying for University most of the day for months at that period (2009) and one afternoon I just had enough and decided to grab my camera and go out to do some shooting and clear my mind. When I got outside though, I was finally not in mood to wander through the crowded streets in search of “something” to shoot, so I decided to have a walk in the Old South Cemetery of Munich to find some peace of mind. Once I got there, I found myself pulled out of reality. The peacefulness, the light and colors and all the birds and squirrels around me made the cemetery appear like a parallel dimension. I started taking some photos of the squirrels while laying on the leaf covered ground and enjoying their company, when suddenly the elderly lady, dressed in a beige trenchcoat and wearing a hat appeared. Only at this point I had the sudden idea, to turn this unique Sunday walk into photo-story.
All photos belongs to @Bjoern Kupper