Christian Voigt’s images show an engaging snapshot of the world around us. Peter Feely meets the photographer.
His former background as a publisher has clearly stood Christian Voigt in good stead, when you see his images for the first time. Voigt’s work is distinctive in how he retouches and alters pictures to add specific emphasis or colour to details in the photos. A seasoned traveller from Munich, his enormous artworks give us an exploration into how we view the world around us. Here the photographer speaks about his show at the Sasali Private Museum in Al Quoz and expands on the philosophy behind his work.
You’ve travelled extensively and taken pictures of various scenes and scenarios, ranging from shops and waterfalls to architecture and sand dunes. Is there any unifying theme to your images?
As most of my themes involve nature and people in various countries, I always want to capture the momentum of our society and the life of the people in that moment. The street life in Saigon and the desert dunes in the empty quarter are a mirror of our time.
Your photos have a vivid manipulation of colour – is that a representation of how you see colour in everyday life?
Every project that I photograph has a certain philosophy that is of course also expressed in the way I choose how to colour a composition. Not all of my pictures have vivid colours, but a fruit market in Cambodia characterises life through colour. On the other side of the coin, the beauty of the desert does not need a lot of colour to tell the story.
When you alter and highlight your pictures do you think that has any effect on the truth of your photography?
My camera is only my tool – all of the artistic manipulation is done during the process of taking the photo. As a photographer creating art, I have to leave the path of realism or journalistic photography. The art of photography therefore must be a clear manipulation and be obviously different to the reality. Any alteration that the viewer might detect is a personal interpretation of what the viewer wants to see.
What’s the process between taking a shot and the end result?
The process between taking the photo and the finished artwork is the artistic secret of every photographer.
How often do you travel and what sort of traveller are you? Do you stay in nice hotels and see museums or do you like to wander around spontaneously?
My way of travelling always comes from the idea of pure exploration. Curiosity is the key to see new things, to find images without judgement. I am spontaneous. A tent in the desert works as well as any good hotel.
I saw the collection of vintage pictures taken by your relatives on your website. Would you say that photography is a family tradition and when did you realise you shared the passion?
Photography in my family goes back over three generations. When I was growing up, cameras were a present in our everyday life. I won my first cheap camera at a famous amusement park in Hamburg. I cannot say exactly when I started photography – but it feels like I’ve been doing it forever.
What made you decide to leave the world of publishing to pursue photography full time?
It was simply my passion for photography that made me start.
Do you think that your art has a responsibility towards its human subject and if so, what is it?
I believe that photography does not carry responsibility. Photos are simply a mirror of time and there is always a space for individual interpretation.
Where are you going to next?
South America, where landscape and people will be my main focus.
Exhibition: ‘Christian Voigt’ runs until November 1 at Sasali Private Museum in Al Quoz (04 380 9600).
Artist: Christian Voigt
Price of works: On request