Wednesday, June 29

InterVieW Reinfried Marass - ''Without Heart Photographs Would Be Mere Images...''

Reinfried Marass - Austrian, professional photographer, born 1960 in Vienna ...


  • Describe the child Reinfried Marass …
    R.M. : Well, I was a young boy ... 
  • Describe the man Reinfried Marass …
    R.M. : Still a young boy, just older at age. Once grown up you only can became older. I don't take things that serious as others might do it. 
  • In some words … The story of your passion … How long have you been  a photographer ?
    R.M. : It all started at age of 18. I went on a trip to Egypt and The Sudan for several month. Just for fun. Well, I had no camera with me. For sure you can imagine that I wasn't able to 'archive' great visual moments and impressions. And I started with photography upon my return and after my graduation as mechanical engineer. One should always listen to Mom and to have a more 'serious' job as backup to overcome the 'thin' years. Or to have a rich spouse. But I didn't go pro from the start. For the first years it was just a nice hobby. I always liked to become a wildlife photographer, down in dark Africa of course. But I had no idea how to monetize this passsion. Back in the old days wildlife photography mainly was waiting. Waiting for the lion to roar. And I couldn't convince a female to accompy me to sugar the times between the lions roars. And I skipped it till today. But one day I'll be back to Africa, but not as a wildlife photographer. There are a lot of other things to cover there.  
  • You are in love with the concept ''image composition'' … for me it's a ''feeling''…can you describe it?
    R.M. : Your are right and you are wrong. First, image composition isn't a feeling. It is based on strict rules. Of course, one could tweak some rules to his taste and style. Like an architect who must apply static  rules to the buildings. Over time the rules turn into a feeling. You must no longer 'think' about it, it's there inside you and it becomes a habit in your subconscious mind. Just like shifting gear in a car. 

    For me image compostion is important because I'm a perfectionist and just tilting the cam, or doing other weird with it, doesn't make a photograph 'artsy'. And image compostion adds another 'level' to a photograph, imho. An additional level a viewer might discover and enjoy. Of course, not all my images are willfully composed. It's a rule for me, but not a golden rule. 
    Let me tell you an example that might make it more clear. I like conflict-photographers a lot. They are riscing wealth and life for a shot. Heroes with a cam. A cam in the hands of such a photographer is the most dangerous weapon at all. And some weird regimes frighten them like hell.
    But, imho, many are journalists with a cam, not photographers. With one exception - James Nachtwey. When you check his work you will see that his images are not just snapshots, they are composed too (at least many of them). It makes his images more noticeable and his work more worthy. The message can be transported to more people. One of the reasons why he is the most famous conflict-photographer alive. Just a personal approach, of course. 
    Back to me - I'm influenced by the German Bauhaus. The positioning and relationship of points, lines and areas; Wassily Kandinsky & Co. Beyond that I sometimes include 'Fibonacci Harmonic Levels'.  
  • Your favourite style …?
    R.M. : Pure, raw and honest. No lies, no fakes. There exists an unwritten contract, a form of a codex, between the photographer and the viewer. A photograph must reflect the truth. A photographer must be credible. 
    Besides that statement I believe a photographer should be able to hover various styles. And for sure the style changes over the years. And it must. If there is no advancement the photographer comes to a halt. Not that good! 
  • Your feeling, like photographer, about a woman before your camera ?
    R.M. : Quite easy. As soon as I trigger the cam to 'On' I'm in love with the woman in front of me and I'm engaged with her as long as the camera is on. It's quite similar to other subjects I photograph. 

  • You cross art photography, commercial and editorial - is there one you enjoy most?
    R.M. : Today I'm more focused on my personal work. I like to create something of more constant value. I assume this will answer your question ?  
  • You shoot a lot of women portraits, with their tightly controlled images, is it hard to get them to do something interesting?
    R.M. : Not that hard. If it is staged photography the 'main-scene' is already finished in my head before I pick up the cam. I cover everday women only, no use of make up artists, no professional models. I see this as an advantage. Professional models will immediately begin to act and it would be more effort to unsell the 'common' poses rather than to tell a non-pro model how I would like her to act.  I prefer credible poses. A model can be of help, but at least it's the photographer who takes the image. Might sound arrogant, but I don't mean it that way. The photographer is the only one who looks thru the finder at the time of shot. The one and only who can decide. The photographers signs the work at the time of the 'click' with his/her name. And, therefore, if the image is not 'good' it's the photographer's fault, and can't be blamed on the model(s).  
  • What is your favourite accessory , other than your camera?
    R.M. : None, besides the lens of course. I like to keep things simple and stupid, thus I can be focused on the scenery. Today I use a 'simple' Rangefinder (Leica M) and only one 35mm lens. Nothing else. And available light only.   
  • Do you have a regular team that help you?
    R.M. : No. I'm not a good team-player. 
  • What are your favourite two images you have shot recently? Why?
    R.M. : I guess most photographers always favour the most recent work done. So do I. 
  • What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing cars?

    R.M. : I always have been in touch with classic and exotic cars. I do automotive photography mainly because I've very good access to it. You must know that most owners and collectors are quite nice people, but as soon as it comes down to their beloved cars most turn very eccentric. I have luck, they know me, they know that I respect their property and that I don't race their stuff. And in most cases I'm allowed to ride the cars to any place I like. 'You know where the key is, if possible return it without a dent, or return it all, etc.' Well, that's the nice part. 
    Before I take pictures of a specified car model I study it. I study it's history, the era it was in. I believe it is important to collect as many historic facts about the car as possible. The shoot, the scene depends on it. And then I study the car's body, the design. In detail. I walk around it, view it from a distance. I view it from the top. I'm on my knees or lying down. Sometimes I put it on a hoist to get unforseen impressions. This could take hours and hours. Especially when I'm not familar with the car model. Fortunately many classic cars are well known to me and this time can be shortened, if not skipped at all. 
    But the most challenging part is to put the car in an adequate environment. It would be easier to find a matching location for an American classic car in the US, etc. Here in Europe this could be really a hard task. When the car is pictures as a whole, the visible background could stretch for miles. In crowded areas this is really problem. There is always a non-matching backround scenery or something that should not be there. Well, one could mention digital editing. But see above, no lies allowed ! Sometimes I do a little trick by using a ladder. This gives unusual points of view and I can get rid of the background.  
    There would be by far more things to mention when photographing cars, but I don't like to bore you with too manyh details. 

  • Your point of view about life…About nature?
    R.M. : I like to do whatever I want and whenever I want it. Call it personal freedom. Of course, this can't always be achieved. At least I try.
    About nature? Well, I share a more pessimistic opinion. For me the globe is done and it's already too late. 
  • Is there anybody you would love to photograph?
    R.M. : Well, on the female side I would mention e.g. Julia Roberts and Lucy Liu.
    On the male side it would be Antonio Banderas. For me he is the greatest actor alive but with a very challenging face from a photographer's point of view.  
  • The greatest love of your life…?
    R.M. : Besides photography ? Well, either do it right or let it be. There is no much room left for 'other' passions. 
  • If you could live anywhere on this ''beautiful'' planet where would you build your dream home?
    R.M. : Out in the woods. I'm a loner. Many photographers are loners. That's part of the job/passion, you do it alone (mostly).    
  • Your favourite photographer…? A question for him/her?
    R.M. : There might be a lot of favorite photographers. But if I must pick only one it would be Chinese photographer Fan Ho. No questions to him, all are answerded in his photographs. 

    • How important is a website for your business?
    R.M. : Not that much. Just a way to show my work. There is not much business via the internet. But this might be quite different for other photographers. 
  • Describe your ideal viewer .
         R.M. : I'm surrounded by people lacking of time. Not having time seems to be a status symbol nowadays. A photograph should talk. Over and over again, varying each time it is viewed. Like a real lady, a photograph should keep it's secrets for a fairly long time. So, the ideal viewer is one who has time to peep !
    One of the reasons why the internet might not be the best place to present work. Visitors are battered by myriads of images out there and flipping thru' within a second or two.
    A fine art print on a wall still can't be beaten. There it rests and can talk whenever the owner passes by and likes to 'listen'. 
  • The most beautiful photo by Reinfried Marass?
    R.M. : Yet not done and still to come.


My photographs have been published in international magazines, primarily covers, full pages or double-spreads. As well as used for advertisements and commercials. Today I’m more focused on my personal work. I like to create something of more constant value.

Even though acknowledged at some prestigious photographic contests around the world I lately figured out that faked, staged and digitally altered work seems to be favored. No more room for a traditional photographer and time to skip.

There exists an unwritten contract, a form of a codex, amongst the photographer and the viewer. A photograph must reflect the truth. A photographer must stay believable. For this reason I use digital processing just to enhance technical quality.

I always have been in touch with classic and exotic cars. In my automotive photography females are used to add a slice of life and story telling. And to add a touch of style and beauty. Or to drive the viewer back in time. I prefer ‘women by cars’ over ‘car girls’. In my female shots I cover everyday women. Neither make up artists, stylists nor professional models ever have been involved.

Years ago my analogue work was destroyed by my former wife and all my existing photographs are done digitally.

Image composition is one of the basics in my photographic work. The positioning and relationship of points, lines and areas in my photographs is influenced by the ‘German Bauhaus’ that combined crafts and the fine arts and operated from 1919 to 1933. Beyond that I use ‘Fibonacci Harmonic Levels’ for composition.

I take pictures by reading the available light. I never have owned a flash or similar lighting equipment. I love to work with minimal equipment, thus I can keep focused on the scenery. I have used numerous cams and lenses, but for my personal work I favor a simple Leica M Rangefinder equipped with only one lens.

I’m rarely satisfied with my work. A vast number of images are deleted again in favor of a prime one. My personal favorite photograph? Not yet done. I don’t head for the perfect image. Far from it. I prefer photographs with some imperfections, mostly they are more simpatico.

A photograph should talk. Over and over again, varying each time a viewer is looking at it. Sometimes I use a title to give a hint, but solely leave the interpretation to the viewer. I believe it depends on a viewer’s age, education, experiences of life, origin or sex. I do not really care ‘how’ my work is seen – as long as the photograph does interact at all.

Creative vision? Shrug, sorry. I leave this talk to gallery openings. I take images because it’s there, and I am there, and because I can do it. It’s a passion. A life’s journey seen through a lens.

In my opinion a camera is a mirror of a photographer’s soul, reflected in the work done. And my work is ‘signed’ with a heartprint, symbolized by the red dot logo. Without heart photographs would be mere images.

No comments: