View Artist Statement
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Gallery Direct Interview with ROGER SONNELAND|
Roger describes his macro photography as a personal experience between himself and the flower he is photographing. He looks at the “Rose” as the Rolls Royce of flowers and one that holds so many untold stories. As Roger moves in close and looks deeply into the rose he reveals an explosion of color along with an ever-changing landscape.
You have been photographing for a number of years, could you tell us when and how you became interested in photography?
When I was about 17 or 18 I had a keen interest in expressing myself through either drawing or painting. It did not take me long to realise that I had absolutely no talent with either medium. I also realised that a good picture was mainly about its compostition, so my next step was to buy a camera and start to try and express myself with it.
Where did you get your training as a photographer and do you feel an institutional education in photography is beneficial to someone aspiring to become a professional photographer?
My training came from working with other photographers and artists. As to instituitional training, I guess that would depend on what sort of photography one was interested in doing. To me personally I think a class or two in composition would be the first thing I would do if I were starting out again.
Could you tell us a little about your early years as a photographer? Did you work as a freelance photographer or did you do most of your work on a consignment basis, or both?
When I realised that I could take a reasonable image it also dawned on me that I could possibly make a bob or two out of my ability to do it. My lifestyle in those early years presented me with lots of unique oppertunities for some really great photos. I knocked on a lot of doors before finally finding an agency that wanted me and that I felt comfortable working for. I most enjoyed working on my own, going somewhere and getting into a project then finding a buyer for what I had produced. To me there are heaps of good photographers and with the technology availability today, it does not take a lot to produce a top quality image. What separates photographers is the way they see things, a good image is a story on its own. And to me the really great photographers create a lot of good stories.
In the 70’s you went through a period where you shot only nudes, could you tell us how this all evolved and why it ended?
I absolutley loved doing nude work, I lived in Crete Greece when I started and there was always someone new to work with. I found working with nudes so similar to the work I do today. I find both the nude work and the flowers I do today so personal. Its like I get lost in what I am doing and I just sort of feel in tune doing it. Why it ended is because what I liked doing and what the market wanted were two different things entirely. I was forever being asked to make my images more suggestive or erotic. I also really loved working in black and white but to sell, most of the market wanted color. I don't have anything against erotic images in fact some of the early Chinese pornography I really enjoy as a art form. But it is not me, and not what I try to do when working with a nude.
As a photographer I can see a relationship between the human form (nudes) and this personal experience that you are having between yourself and the ellusive rose. Do you see this same relationship or do you see the rose more as a landscape. Could you tell us your thoughts on this?
My photography has always been a very personal thing, it seems I have always just specalised in one thing at a time. For me that is what seems to work best. When I was a nude photographer, that was all I did , just as now all I work with is flowers. I live and breath flowers. My camera of the past 5 years has never taken any other kind of image. I sometimes look at different photographers websites and some I find absolutely amazing. They can have images in every different type of photography you can think of from underwater shots to night photography and everything inbetween. Some are very good, but I usually find images that move me the most are from photographers that specalise in one or two fields. I see where I have not really anwsered your question but I put too much thought in what I said to delete and start again !!
I can see that macro photography is now your passion. Could you tell us what lens you use and what time of day you find best to do this type of photography? Do you carry a spray bottle in your back pocket?
For the past 4 years I have only used a Nikon 105 2 .8 but now I have just bought a couple more lenses. It took me that long to figure out the 105. I now feel that I know the 105 pretty well and can get some reasonable results with it, so it is time to move onto something else. I am like most photographers and find the best light to work with is in either early morning or evening, but on saying that I really like working with defused light also. I carry no spray bottles in my back pocket. I also do not use a tripod as I find them very restrictive for the kind of photography I do and the results I am searching for.
Has digital photography made any kind of impact on your work with regards to camera equipment and the computer?
To this day I remember the first rose I looked at through a digital camera. I knew that I could instantly look on the back of the camera and see what I had taken. For the type of images I am trying to create this is like mana from heaven. In my thinking the two most important things in creating a good image are composition and light. When you can look on the back of your camera and see these two components actually at work it gives you a huge advantage. When the conditions are just right, you go for it. I also really appreciate how easy everything has become for viewing ones photos and working with them. I must say the only thing I do with the computer is either darken or lighten an image or crop it. I know you can do some pretty creative things on the computer but my life is pretty busy as it is, and I consider myself a photographer not a computer whizz.
As an artist/photographer do you think you perceive the world differently from other people?
I think we all perceive the world a bit differently from each other and that is one of the things that makes life so interesting. I am not sure if being a photographer effects how I perceive the world but I would definitely say it effects how I see the world.
Recently you have gone beyond the photographic image as we know it and you have created art pieces in new formats. Could you tell us a bit about your Art Blocks and Ceramic Tiles?
I don't think I am doing anything new with image blocks, they have been around for years. Here in New Zealand the ceramic tiles and glass we are imprinting with my images is a new process. They are infused with a dye sublimation process. As I said it is relatively new here in New Zealand but we seem to be a few years behind the times with a lot of technology, so it has probably been available in Europe and the States for some time. I really like the results on both the tiles and also the glass. The ultimate tile to me for photographic images is the porcelan tile.
You have been a photographer for many years, could you tell us about your most memorable experience of your career?
My most memorable experiance happened very early on, was either 1966 or 67. I was in Mexico. I was a young man and had my first 35 mm camera, if my memory is right it was a German made camera called an Argus. Was down near Alcapoco when we met this man who had two jars of opals he was trying to sell. I was mesmerized by the beauty of these stones and had to have them. I did not have enough money to buy them so I offered my camera and to my surprise he agreed, these two jars also had oil in them and when I asked him why, he said to keep them from scratching each other, which sounded plausible to me. Anyway I finished the roll of film with the last two pictures being of him holding the two jars of stones with a big old smile on his face. We then traded the camera for the stones. I had to smuggle the stones from there through to the States which was a big worry. Anyway I got home and the first thing I did was took all the stones out of the jars and wiped the oil off of them only to discover they were all cracked and the oil hid the cracks! What I had was two jars of reject opals that were worth nothing. I then had the film developed and there was the man who sold them to me with a big smile on his face. I treasured those two photos for many years and learned a important lesson from the experience.
What advise can you give to aspiring photographers? (be they, hobbists, artists or professionals)
I guess the best advice would be to enjoy what your doing for if you don't get pleasure from doing it you should be doing something else. I think it is better to concentrate your energy into one type of photography rather then spread yourself to thin trying to do many. In your question you said artist or professionals... I like to think in my case and am sure there are lots of other photographers would think the same that they are both an artist and a professional photographer with the end result being their art. I am not quite sure what the definition of a professional photographer is, but would think it would have to include some sort of finacial gain to the photographer for what he or she has created. To me personally the image at the end of what ever process you do to get it is all that really counts in photography.
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