Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Taking bad photos is important." ... interview with DAN HAYON.

1Q) Can you please tell us the story behind this portrait? How you took it and why you choose to shoot this person?
This photo was taken in 1967 or 1968. 
At that time I was a student at the Art Academy in Bucharest and, just because I had a camera, a friend of a friend of a friend, got me a summer job as a stage photographer during the shooting of a feature movie. One of the things I had to do, was to take the pictures of those who wanted to be hired as extras for the film. It was almost like a police procedure: they were brought to me, I put them in front of a black wall asked them to look at me and I pressed the button like a firing squad. One of them was the man in this photo. Didn't know his name, didn't know his story. I suppose that the expression on his face would have been the same if he had a real policeman in front of him. Later I was told that he was a Jew who wanted to emigrate to Israel and was waiting for years to get a visa. I wonder If he expected me to give him one.
Anyway, I didn't think then of my self as a real photographer. I still don't.


2Q) What photography gear you used here and why? What is usually in your photo bag?
I had a Zorky camera with one lens only. I think it was a 50mm. The cameraman gave me a box with negative film that I cut in pieces. Today, there is nothing in my photo bag. I don't have a photo bag. My photo bag is my pocket and I always carry in it a cheap little compact camera. But I wouldn't refuse a Leica if you'll offer me one. My camera is my notebook. I don't take photos, I take visual notes. I don't care if the result is a bad photo. Taking bad photos is important. Diane Arbus said that. Probably she was referring to me.
  
3Q) What do you love most about shooting portraits?
I don't shoot portraits. When I'm in front of a person, I take pictures of my own feelings. I just tell them to look at me and that's it. Every portrait I make is a portrait of myself. But I am not a nombrilistic artist, I am not the centre of universe. On the other hand, I may be crazy. Who knows...

4Q) Do you consider yourself mostly as a “portrait” photographer?
No. I would keep the word "photographer" because my tool is a camera and not brushes, for instance. But I consider myself more of a story-teller. I start from an emotion, I try to put it in words and then, I look through my thousands of visual notes to find those who fit that feeling. It doesn't matter when, where and why I took them.

5Q) Do you work with available light or do you use additional lightning often?
Only available light. I think that using a flash, in some occasions, may give very interesting effects but it is not for me. Too complicated. 

6Q) What/Who are your photography muses and influences?
Whoever took or takes pictures the way I do, is a muse for me. (I'm kidding.) The list of my muses is long. Fred Chance and Robert Frank are among the top ten. Together with Keith Arnatt, Lartigue, Giacomelli, Brandt and Erwitt. But, as I said, the list is long, very long. It includes 19th century photographers and many who lived in the first half of the 20th.
I'm most influenced by those photographers whom I didn't discover yet. And by anonymous photographers. A lot.

7Q) Any tip for taking better portraits?
Yes. One: there is no tip. Just do it.
No, there is another: read photographers quotations. 
Search for them on Internet, write them down, filter them according to your own experience and, from time to time, read them again and think about.















Thank You, Dan!

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