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Philosophy

(a continual changing text)

Born 1958 in Austria from Greek origin and grown up in
Austria, Greece and mainly in Germany,
I studied cultural science (Empirische Kulturwissenschaften / European Ethnology) and
ethnology at the university of Tuebingen (master of arts in 1995).
I lived in Nepal (2004-2007 in Palpa, Patan and Kathmandu),
where I started my career as a freelance photographer and visual artist.
In Nepal and India I did several solo- and group-exhibitions and workshops with national and international artists.

Photographing for me is very connected to my scientific education.
I’m photographing since more than three decades, with long brakes of several reasons in between.
Mainly documentaries for private use, I changed during my stay in Nepal into professionalism,
among others because this is probably one of the most photogenic areas you may find on this world.

My portfolio contents several kinds of photographic art:
portrait, travel (including landscapes, streetscenes),
documentations (mainly on ethnographic topics, culture and art;
as well social subjects, people at work, among others)
and fine art photography.

So I work almost exclusively outdoors, I (have to) use a very minimized equipment:
only one camera and one lens.
Of course, with more equipment it would be possible,
to do many of my shots much more perfect.
But in the field, carrying a lot of material around,
it is hindering to concentrate on the real work,
makes one to much aware of the possible technical opportunities one could have.
Minimalism, snap decisions and – most important – open eyes are the tools on road.
Henri Cartier-Bresson ones said, photography is the capture of a moment,
the uniting (merger) of mind, eye and heart in the same axis.

I’m not just a so called artist, much more a craftsman,
who’s medium among others is mainly of course the (sun-) light,
similar as colors from pigments it is to a painter or a particular piece of wood to a woodcarver.
Art in its pure sense means to be artificial, sometimes art seems to be even senseless
or sometimes not understood by the spectator.
But my photography works is suggestive, timeless and
– in opposition to my sculptures or other objects –
only on a surfaced view artificial.
Photographs serves us also as a humbling reminder of the fragility of the human condition,
especially for those who have the luck to be granted with the good fortune of a comfortable,
safe and secure situation of their life.

Photographing people, as portrait or in motion and especially at work,
details on crafts, daily life, architecture and religious objects became my favourites.
Fine art photography to me is a combination of a certain situation including the objects
and an idea in my mind of it’s ideal solution, bedded with aspects of human experience,
including the dignity of people, trying to capture a unique expression of soul, beauty and sensuality,
transforming the current situation or moment with form and objects into a composition.
But a painter may have sheer endless time to find his ideal transformation of his idea,
also he may change colours and arrangement of objects several times during the process.
A street photographer on the contrary has only a moment to do the shot of a precise situation,
and except of exposure and a few others he has no possibilities for changes.
Once a picture is shot, it is done.
Of course, you can manipulate a little afterwards during processing,
but the main elements, the atmosphere and the soul of a photography are very limited to alter.
It’s not only the try to conserve a unique moment,
not in the sense of only the remembering of situations, it’s much more:
the try to keep moments, situations and my models (I don’t like the term „objects“) alive!
So I try to underscore photography’s power to capture reality.
The language of photography gives me the chance, to shortcut thoughts and thinking by visualisation.
I like to explain and deepen this with a quotation of one of the great German anthropologists,
Michael Oppitz, who said the following:
“Accuracy is producing the beautiful on it’s own. Therefore it is the accuracy, as I demand it for ethnography, either visual or verbal, a practise of art.”

Herbert Grammatikopoulos

photos@grammatix.de