keeps me fresh.

(crossing Iceland’s
Svartá river,
photo: W. Knöchelmann)

> > INTERVIEW (continued)

You always carry a notebook; what for?
     That is one of the most important pieces
of equipment I have on me. In it I note all
necessary information on the things or the
people I photograph.
     But, except with complex shots, I don’t
waste time recording technical photographic
data like exposure or f-stop.

Does it also contain your ideas and your list
of pictures you need to take?

     Yes. Every new job I start out on gets a
few pages of lists: names, addresses, phone
numbers. And, of course, my wish-list
including ample space for additional entries...

Is the in-the-field kind of adventure an
integral part of your work?

     Absolutely, that way you usually get
images which are more vivid and authentic.


With staged science photography you are in
constant danger of staging a picture to death.
I love working real, natural situations for a
change. Besides it’s usually more fun.

How do these two go together: on the one
hand your rather authentic picture stories
from ‘in-the-field’, and on the other hand your
staged lab photography?

     I think these two complement one another.
I have a simple guideline whether to stage a
picture with great pains of not: If I can do an
exciting picture without further manipulation,
I’ll do it. But especially in labs this may
prove impossible without some kind of mani-
pulation on the part of the photographer.
     You can experience pretty desperate
situations in labs when all you see is grey
computers and grey boxes with the odd dial.


Do you consider these situations a challenge?
     Certainly! But if I could do staged photo-
graphy only, this would sooner or later take
the fun out of work. Besides I’d be prone to
run in circles and fall into patterns. Change is
always healthy, versatility keeps me fresh.

But it seems as if you really liked doing fiddly things.
     Sure, when you want to do perfect science
photography and you have a precise
conception of the picture you want to do, you
sometimes have to be pretty inventive.
There is, for instance, this photo from my
GEO story on the testing of consumer goods.
I had to shoot crash-testing of children’s
safety seats and thought it would be great to
capture the child’s dummy at the precise
moment of the crash, but from inside the test
car!                                                (continue...)