Herman de Pagter – Featured IPA member
As it counts for more photographers, my life can be separated in two: the analog and the current digital photography era. To this day I’m still approaching photography regarding the analog techniques. But let me start at the beginning. My first serious camera was the world famous Praktica, produced in communist Eastern Germany. At that time I thought it was a serious camera. It was a splendid camera to learn about photography. I used both color and black and white film alternately. After some years I started developing the B&W films and printing the photos by myself. The Praktica became obsolete in favour of a 1958 Rolleiflex f2.8 and the choice was definitely made for B&W.
When the first digital cameras were launched, I wasn’t eager to embrace them. Analog was – at that time – far better than digital. However, somehow, I lost my interest in photography. Too much publicity for something that wasn’t good enough. For some years I quit photography. Meanwhile the development of the digital cameras continued and they became better and better. Using a small Canon Ixus, for every day usage, I became more eager to reinvent my (digital) photo skills. At that time I was focussed on using the equipment instead of creating better photos. After buying new equipment and taking part of different scholars, photo courses and workshops it was time to focus on quality.
It took several years to explore my identity as a photographer. And this quest is not over yet. I had to cope with some difficulties and contradictions. E.g. exploring an own identity without knowing what – for me – a beautiful photo was. And what about color and B&W photography? Reading photo books, watching photos on the Internet and making tons of photos did help me to develop myself as a photographer. Till today the Internet is extremely useful when it comes to fine tuning my photo skills. Surprisingly Facebook is almost an ideal platform. Two Facebook groups provide me a most friendly and open photo community, namely the International Photographers Association (IPA) and the Leica Meet group. Every evening I take time to explore the postings of the members, trying to recognize the geographical area of the poster and his/her identity. It’s really fun and learningful.
Today, I’m a commissioned photographer, a street photographer and once a week I publish a photo column in a newspaper. Different identities with different cameras. In my studio I use my H4D Hasselblad and on the street I really love my Leica’s (the Monochrom and my beloved M9). The commissioned photography becomes more and more versatile. In fact, the Hasselblad does not meet my needs anymore (e.g. Low-light photography without using a flash). Therefore, I consider to swop the Hassie-set for a Canon set. One thing is for sure, nowadays all camera brands are producing good camera’s. I’m convinced that a camera must fit the photographer. It must be a happy, fruitful marriage.
Why do I love photography nowadays? Simple, I found a way to connect the analog and digital photography era. First, 98% of the photos I make are black and white. In my mind, I see B&W photos and love them because it gives me the ability to express more drama and emotion. Mostly I find colors distracting and minimizing the impact of a photo. I do use Photoshop, but limited. This means that Photoshop is like my analog film developer and printer. I only use the same techniques as during my analog era. Therefore post processing my photos is straightforward, namely a bit of push and pull processing, adding contrast, clarity and vignette.
My favorite subjects are people on the street. But I also do like to capture subjects that are eye catching for me (at that specific moment). It is somewhat vague, but think about a stairway, an alley or a scene that reflects loneliness or wideness. On the street I’m mainly focussed on capturing interesting people in interesting contextual circumstances. I’m not keen to photograph people in compromised or ridiculous circumstances. Funny, yes, but first and for all I like to photograph people in their own habitat and capture their natural behavior.
Meanwhile, I’m still busy with my ongoing quest to figure out what a beautiful photo is. And therefore I keep learning every day by doing, watching and reading. Many years ago I lost my interest in new launched cameras, lenses and the number of pixels. Instead, I love to watch photos and read photo books. In my humble opinion, reading photo books is by far better than investing in new equipment when you want to become a better photographer.