here - felixkunze.com

felixkunze.com

here - felixkunze.com

The Spirit of Nikonby Sir Simon MarsdenAngel Eyes XIby Heather AngelMAGAZINE OF THE NIKON WORLD • ISSUE XXXIX • 2012THE DARK KNIGHT RISES:SIR SIMON MARSDEN by Gray LevettA MAN FOR ALL REASONSAn Interview with Felix Kunze by Gillian GreenwoodNIKON F HAND FUNDUS CAMERA by Tony Hurstnikonownermagazine.com 1Nikon D800 & A Prime Prime: AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G Review by Simon Stafford


FK An orphan standsupon the rubble of aKindergarten inPort-au-Prince, Haiti“...there is the new breedof young documentaryphotographers, gifted,inspired and inspirational,completely committed totheir work. ... Felix Kunze issuch a photographer.3030 nikonownermagazine.com


FELIXKUNZEAMANFORALLREASONSBY Gillian GreenwoodGillian Greenwood examines the life and work of the photographer Felix Kunze.We are living through some of the mostextraordinary times in photographic history.As a result of the pivotal advances in technologyand optics in recent years, photography as anart-form has metamorphosed irrevocably, bothprompted and challenged by those developments.This is no gradual evolution but a simple, blatantrevolution in practice and practicality.Yet one must not forget that everything starts withthe photographer, the artist behind the viewfinder,the architect of the image.Photographs are like words; although the physicalmechanism of taking a shot is the same, the visuallanguage used can be utterly different from onephotographer to another. And so it is with aneditorial portrait or documentary photographer.He is often a narrator, the creator of a canvaswhich we are able to both paradoxically participatein and distance ourselves from. In pause-mode, weglimpse at the form he has placed before us: eyeslit with quizzical thought or aglow with etherealbeauty, facial lines hinting a lifetime of smoke andmirrors or of honest labour; sadness, happiness,failure and success, the human condition in all itsincarnations in one frozen frame, a brief tableau ofthe world.Then there is the new breed of youngdocumentary photographers, gifted, inspiredand inspirational, completely committed to theirwork. They move tirelessly around the planet,documenting its rich festivals with vigour, itstragedies with empathy and its diverse peoplewith painstaking but infinite variety.Felix Kunze is such a photographer.Felix Kunze was born in East Berlin in 1985 andraised in the UK, now dividing his time betweennikonownermagazine.com 3131


AMANFORALLREASONSLondon and New York. Inspiredby photographers past andpresent, Felix combinesdocumentary work withportraiture to shoot portraitsthat tell a detailed story of hissubjects.He interned with the worldrenownedphotographer AnnieLeibovitz from September2010 until June 2011, workingclosely with her 1st assistantand becoming Annie Leibovitz’sfreelance assistant from November2011 until February 2012.Over the years, Felix hasbeen involved in variousinternational commercial andeditorial projects throughoutthe western world as well asin exotic locations such asthe deserted tropical islandsof southern Belize, the wildcaves and steppes in the northof Mexico and the deepestslums of India. He spends partof every summer shooting atmusic festivals in England andDenmark. His work is featuredprominently in the definitivecompendium on British Festivalculture, Festival Annual and onthe cover of the 2011 edition.In addition, Felix has workedextensively with organisationssuch as ‘Help for Orphans’ inPort-au-Prince, Haiti, which hevisited after the earthquake toassist in the relief effort, laterreturning to document theactions of the Future of HaitiOrphanage for O, The OprahWinfrey Magazine.These photographic images wereseen by over 150,000 people andas a result contributed majorly tothe orphanage relief effort afterthe disaster.His work is represented in theimage libraries of Getty ImagesEntertainment, Wireimage,Redferns, ContourPhotosand Contour Style as well asbespoke industry-specific designcollections. The charity Youth forHuman Rights has asked him tolecture at universities across thecountry about his work as wellas his experiences with humanrights in different cultures acrossthe world.G.G. When did you first takeup photography and what wasyour first camera?F.K. I think my interest wassparked when I stole my parent’shome video tape recorder whenI was a child! It was video, butI recall being fascinated withthe idea that you could record amoment and play it back.My first camera was a NikonF60, bought (from Grays ofWestminster) for me when I wasten years old.G.G. Did you receive formaltraining as a photographer orwere you self-taught?F.K. I’ve attended a fewworkshops and seminars, butwould consider myself to bemostly self-taught.G.G. What inspired youto become an editorialportraiture and documentaryphotographer? Has the workof any other photographeror artist influenced you inany way? A Haitian Orphan A Haitian Orphan3232 nikonownermagazine.com


FK“I think my interestwas sparked when Istole my parent’s homevideo tape recorderswhen I was a child!nikonownermagazine.com 3333


FK“I can’t deny the influence Annie Leibovitz hashad on my work. I looked at her career path a fewyears ago and saw how she had gone from beinga documentary photographer to producing someof the most beautiful portraiture in the world. THIS IMAGE: KristenMartin, cast member of‘Spiderman: Turn off theDark’ on Broadway BOTTOM RIGHT:A personal portrait shotin Houston, Texas Phoenix Dance Theatre. Sound ClashF.K. I can’t deny the influence AnnieLeibovitz has had on my work. I lookedat her career path a few years agoand saw how she had gone frombeing a documentary photographer toproducing some of the most beautifulportraiture in the world. This idea,documentary photography workingto form more interesting portraiture,has really stuck with me for manyyears now. I also love the work ofSally Mann, Peter Lindbergh, Pennand Avendon. Even Weegee is aninspiration; his crime photography isthe precursor of a lot of what we seenow in Hollywood movies.G.G. Why did you decide to choose theNikon system?F.K. Nikon is where I started; it madesense to me at the time; the lenssystems worked well and somethingabout it felt standard to me. I was a tenyearold kid at the time, and could figureout how to attach a filter, and I couldgo into a camera shop and confidentlyorder the right equipment without toomuch hassle. That was back in the day.Now it’s probably easiest to describe itnot in terms of emotional attachmentor previous investment but in whatphotographers on other platformsalways tell me: Nikons make sense. Theergonomics, the standards, the results.My D700 is a workhorse. Since the daysI took it to Haiti, loosely hangingby my side while I3434 nikonownermagazine.com


AMANFORALLREASONS TOP & BOTTOM RIGHT:Barbara S poses forglamorised personalportraits in the desertmountains of northern Mexicotravelled by train, plane and shabbymotorbike; it has gone through all sortsof assignments without skipping a beat.G.G. Can you tell us about some ofyour more recent projects, what wasinvolved, which Nikon equipment youtook with you, where you travelled to?F.K. At the time of this interview I’min Taiwan, doing a series of lecturesabout Human Rights; my experiencesin photography have made me awareof Human Rights as an issue. We’relecturing to over 2000 school kidsa week. The reception has beenphenomenal.I’ve got my Nikon D700 with me, as wellas an assortment of prime lenses. My24mm f/2.8 for taking wide crowd shotsnikonownermagazine.com 3535


AMANFORALLREASONSfrom the stage, my 35mm forthat wonderful 2.0 Bokeh (it’s myfavourite documentary lens) andthe 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4for whenever I need to get a bitcloser. As part of this trip I’ll alsobe going to some of the ruralareas to continue some personalwork, shooting portraits andlandscapes in a country that isn’tnecessarily a tourist destination.The same equipment will form astrong back-bone to that project.G.G. How do you create atypical shoot? Do you havea specific way of workingas a photographer and yourown set of operating rules?For example, do you preferto keep your finger on theshutter release button andshoot a number of imagessimultaneously or are eachof your images carefullyconsidered?F.K. I’ve been shooting a lotof portrait sessions, and theprocess of those has becomesomewhat of an obsession. I’vekind of found my way into amethod that I don’t have to thinkabout anymore. The technicalside of things has mostly beenput on the back burner on mostshoots, over getting the subjectinto the right mood. I’m workingwith lights these days whichpresent their own technicalchallenges. The great thing isthat my D700 plays along withanything I throw at it. I findthat I’m a rather trigger-happyphotographer on challengingshoots, but can turn into thepicture of calm, shooting aquarter as many exposureswhen everything is going well.It depends.I usually have an idea beforethe shoot of what I want thesitter to do, but I also allowfor things to happen. I had aclient crying on set the otherday while recounting a personalstory. I didn’t expect it, butI let it happen; that’s part ofthe process. The best imagesalways come from unexpectedmoments. The camera andlights are always ready, soyou just try to create the rightatmosphere on set to breedthese kind of moments.G.G. Can you tell us about theexperience of working withAnnie Leibovitz?F.K. I was lucky enough to getan internship with Annie fromSeptember 2010 till June 2011;it was a great experience and asyou can imagine, I got to work onsome pretty amazing projects aswell as seeing the more mundaneaspects of day-to-day studiooperations. We ran the wholegamut of tasks and I think I nowhave a well-rounded idea of whatit takes to run a studio like hers.I resumed projects with her atthe end of 2011 and worked on abunch of shoots as an assistant.For example, Annie shot a VanityFair cover of George Clooney,Daniel Craig and Matt Damon.I worked on that shoot as anassistant. We also shot MarcJacobs for a Vogue feature,which was a great project toassist on.The experience of working withAnnie really was and still is lifechanging. Behind the scenes at a London theatreproduction of ‘Femme Fatale’ US radio co-hostsKerri Kasem andAshley Marriott, shotin Malibu,California3636 nikonownermagazine.com


FK“I’m working with lightsthese days which present theirown technical challenges. Thegreat thing is that my D700 playsalong with anything I throw at it.nikonownermagazine.com 3737


FK Personal portraitsession in PalmHarbor, Florida3838 nikonownermagazine.com


AMANFORALLREASONSG.G. There have been occasions inthe past when a single photographhas been able to change the entireperception of the way we viewthings. You travelled to Haiti afterthe earthquake in January 2010to document the effect of thecatastrophe on the population and inparticular the plight of the children.What did you feel you achieved as aphotographer in that situation? A crowd atmosphere shot during aconcert by British rockers Muse atthe giant Danish Music Festival RoskildeF.K. My trip to Haiti, like the one toIndia before it, gave me a perspectiveon what the world is really all about. Ithelped me put things into perspective.My refusal to be interested in fashionphotography I think has something todo with this, my denial of fake things,my search for something uniquein a portrait. The idea that even anugly thing has a beautiful side, thatbeautiful and ugly are not two sidesof the same coin, that truth can be themost beautiful thing of all; all of thiscomes from things I learn on thesesorts of trips.When I was in India documentingthe aftermath of the November 2008terrorist attacks on Mumbai, I alwaysremember the slum kids who followedme at a good distance, never sayinganything, never trying to get myattention. I didn’t even notice them fora good while. When I finally did, theycame up to me and just stood therewithout saying anything. I took theirpicture and they didn’t say thank youor goodbye; they just walked away.The pictures had grace and depth andthe children looked wise beyond theiryears. I stared at the image of twoof the boys for about two hours thatevening and it finally struck me whyI was so affected: these boys didn’twant me to take their picture, theywanted to tell their story, they wantedto have their eyes read, to show theywere poor but they had grace, andthey had a whole load more pride thanyou would expect when you hear theword slum.I cried about it actually. Theirstory moved me, even though weexchanged not a single word. Theyknew more about photography than Idid at the time.G.G. In this age of computer picturemaking,of virtual reality, do you feelthat photography as a visual form ofcommunication is still as relevant asit ever was?F.K. The computer has really openedup the breadth of what is consideredphotography. Nowadays we havedigital artists making collages, entireimages on their computer. They are allusing photography as a basis for theircreation. But that’s not much differentfrom some of the things that peopleused to do thirty to fifty years ago withcollages on their walls.I don’t think there’s really much morefantastic work out there today thanthere was; the proliferation of thecamera hasn’t improved the qualityof photography, it has just increasedthe amount. In fact, this phenomenonis diluting the perceived importanceof the camera. People are finallycatching up to the fact that thecamera is never as important as whatit takes pictures of.There’s still only so many masters ofphotography and I don’t see the numbergoing up astronomically. There’ll onlybe one Annie Leibovitz, and when she’sgone, there won’t be a hundred peoplestepping up to replace her vision and thepurposeful pursuit of a body of work thatreally says something. Perhaps there willbe just one other person that enjoys herlevel of fame. I think computers won’tchange that. They change the processbut that’s about it. I do fairly little postproductionwork; I don’t like sitting onthe computer.“...it finallystruck me why Iwas so affected:these boys didn’twant me to taketheir picture, theywanted to tell theirstory, they wantedto have their eyesread, to show theywere poor but theyhad grace...www.felixkunze.comnikonownermagazine.com 39 39


AMANFORALLREASONSFurther informationFelix has photographed forWireimage, Getty ImagesEntertainment. His celebrityportraiture, as well as his lifestyle/fashion and beauty work, isrepresented by Conotur Photos.His music photography isrepresented by Redferns, RexFeatures and Musicpics.co.uk Actress and rockmusician JulietteLewis at London’sKoko ClubHis entertainment images from variousfashion weeks have been printed ininternational publications such asVogue, Hello, OK!, Time magazine andthe New York Times. He is the cofounderand director of Inspire, whichwas set up to support the photographiccommunity with social events and toassist budding photographers to meetestablished people in the industry.G.G. Your work is wonderfullyeclectic, bridging the worlds of socialdocumentary, celebrity, art, fashionand music. What future goals do youhave as a photographer?F.K. I’m pushing myself inportraiture. I enjoy the processof shooting people. I think I dowell with people; I also find themchallenging. Everything else is a sortof foundation for that. I’ve dabbled inmany areas and commercial realitiesalso drive me to other areas butI always end up being interestedonly in people. Really, when I dodocumentary, it helps me look atmore people, what they do, howthey move, how they stand,interact, etcetera.When I do celebrity, I can see thesame thing, but for people whoaren’t quite as ‘real’. Fashion is notso interesting for me, I don’t feelit’s about people. The clothes aremore important than the model andI always have trouble wrapping myhead around that fact.G.G. Do you have any amusing storiesyou would like to share with us?F.K. Well, there was the time I droppeda lens down a 300 metre drop in a cavein northern Mexico during a shoot,and yet another time I fell into a poolwhile shooting, yet managed not toget the Nikon lens and body wet! Butthe best one has to be when I spentten hours on a chicken bus from Belizeto Mexico with $20,000 of gear, thencasually rolled it across the border....G.G. Are there any ideas orsuggestions you might have fora Nikon user who is consideringthe move from enthusiast toprofessional?F.K. Nikon has made it so easy toshoot, shoot and shoot more. Theirsystems are reliable. If somethingis wrong with your system, you’llknow it because Nikon performsreliably. That’s a huge boon. Back inthe days of film, a Nikon assured yougot consistent results, now it’s evenmore foolproof. So keep shooting andshooting and shooting. If you have anidea of the communication that youwant to put out in the world, the markyou want to make, you can get thereby gaining experience. +4040 nikonownermagazine.com

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