Lighting of course is an integral part of my
toolbox. It helps accentuate things, enhance
or reduce space, or literally show things in a
different light. Night shots or time exposures
can also yield stunning results.
Most science pictures are staged. How far
do you allow yourself to go there?
The staging should remain realistic. You
may also let the viewer know the image is
staged if you feel better about that.
But staging can easily be overdone: in
late eighties photographers started lighting
science shots with color filters, mostly blue,
so everybody who saw these pictures must
have thought science labs looked like a
disco. Doing images that way is easy, and I
have to admit that they were an important
step in the evolution of my own work, too.
But today most people seem to have learned
that you dont need colorful lighting for an
interesting picture. I prefer trying to create
intelligent images, not loud or gaudy ones.
Staging a picture is time-consuming.
How do you get people to go along and invest
so much of their precious time?
That can indeed be tough on everybody
involved. But I try to minimize the impact of
my work on theirs to a tolerable degree.
First of all I talk with people and have them
show me around and explain everything.
Afterwards I mostly prepare my shots
choose angles, set up the lighting for hours
without much more help from anybody.
When it finally comes to doing the actual
pictures and somebody has to pose, it rarely
costs people more than another half hour.
People can easily accept that. And most of
them are also able to see that though good
photography may take a lot of time, it is worth
What are your favourite assignments? Which
issues do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy many issues, but I appreciate
kind of assignment that gives me a chance to
work more spontaneously. Where I can stay
agile and carry my equipment wherever I go.
Photo bag, tripod, a few lenses, and GO!
My picture story on Karakorum,
ancient Mongolian capital of Genghis Khan,
worked that way most of the time. Schlepping
three heavy aluminium cases and two tripod
bags around with you can make you terribly
constrained and inflexible.