Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Conversation : Philipp Horak

I would like to introduce a photographer and ask some questions, this first time i posted a conversation with Philipp Horak, Austrian photographer affiliated with Anzenberger Agency in Vienna. Philipp Horak work as editorial, corporate and advertising photography and also working in personal projects such as a book on Shaolin and an essay on Black Austria. I have a great respect for Philipp's work and happy to share a friendship with him.
DM : What i admire of your work is how you can combine reportage and portrait with the same intensity and creativity using an hasselblad which is, for my personal experience, not an easy camera to compose, how did it happened to start to work with this camera?
PH: First i start with a mamyia RZ. I used this camera for portraits and for reportages.But i soon switch to Hasselblad due the easier handling of the camera. Since then i always worked with an Hasselblad adapting my work to this great camera.
DM: I was very curious to see how you develop your stories, for example the essay on the paris dakar race, it seems you start
with the idea to follow the race but in the end you start to follow the real life of this part of africa which is often forgotten.Tell me more about it.
PH: I was working for 8 years as a photographer. i worked for newspapers and commercial. everything was fine but suddenly my private live changed and i decided to accept an offer of a director which asked me to be part of the crew of his film on the Paris-Dakar , took me one day to recognize as a great experience for my life, follow the race but also switch my life into 4 months in the desert , was everything new for me. The reportage followed my life... in the beginning i was on track with the race but then i start to follow the daily life of the villages, as well with my life changing with a different curiosity .
DM: Portraits are one of the most important topic of your job, is amazing how you face the subject, expecially politicians which are often seen without their typical institutional mask . In Particular Heinz Fisher president of Austria, a photo of him behind the plant of his office. How did you convince him to set up the portrait like that?

PH: I just told him he should stand there - and he did it- I dont know why he did it.... If i would be a president i wouldnt do it but sometime i am really wondering why people are doing things like this..... not that I think they are silly but I wonder if they know to be front of the media sometimes.... In Austria especially where politicians are quite weird sometimes....
DM: Last question, tell me more about your new project of portraits of Asylum seekers in Austria from which three photos appear at the end of this post
PH: It is always a big shock when you observe what a rich country like Austria is doing with "immigrants". Especially the government is always explaining to us that we need an higher "quality" people in our land. I met doctors from Syria waiting for two years to be recognized for an asylium... I do hope they will understand that the world we live belongs to everybody....