Patrick Schmetzer is a German photographer who fell in love with photography as a teenager. Since then, he has traveled to many countries around the world. We asked him some questions about his life and work.
Tell us about your first introduction to photography?
When I was 13, my parents gave me my first camera. Love at first sight, I was mesmerized by that moment and the click of time stopped. The camera has always been with me in my life, but after high school I decided to try the film path. I studied at the SAE Academy in Frankfurt and after graduation I started working full time for my own company.
How do you prepare for your trip?
My travels were originally born on paper: after choosing a destination, I made first drafts by gathering information from the internet, books, films and documentaries. I create a lineup with things I want to see and photograph, and then I talk to my girlfriend about it. She helped me a lot with the steps and logistics of planning the trip and finding different contacts. We build journeys to create a roadmap that separates more complex experiences from others and gives us a chance to breathe.
You have been to many countries, is there one that impresses you more than others?
At the end of each trip, on the return flight, I always ask myself, where does this trip fit in my rankings? This is a tough question.. but after several years traveling in the United Arab Emirates, it is number one for its mysticism, spirituality and colour.
Your photos are intimate and we feel like you were adopted by the residents, how did you get so close?
This photo was just the last part of the process of getting close and socializing with the people I met. What I like most is understanding and living the customs and habits of different ethnic groups. It starts with building a relationship of trust, reassures the subject, and finally takes out the camera and starts shooting.
Overall, how do people react to your camera?
Distrust and curiosity at first. The most curious and bravest are always the children who welcome you and start following you. When I take pictures, I show it to the kids who start laughing and joking. After that, adults also got over their mistrust and started having fun and approaching me.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? What’s your worst souvenir? Best souvenir?
Every trip is a challenge, every trip a little bit harder, and over the years I’ve tried to get as far off the tourist trail as possible to experience the authenticity of the places I visit. Of course, the biggest challenge so far was shooting once in Austria at -15°C. Problems caused by the temperature made the journey really tiring, especially since the drone and electronics were stretched to their limit. Honestly, I don’t remember the worst souvenirs…the best are definitely the experiences that each trip gave me, and I brought home the memories of all the people I met.
How do you prepare for your trip? fund them?
If the trip is not a client trip, they are self-funded. If on the one hand I am constrained by a limited budget, on the other hand this allows me to choose and invest in my favorite projects without restrictions or compromises.
What determines your choice when you work in black and white and color?
I love color and black and white photos. Usually I plan in my head the lineup of lenses I want to shoot and try to imagine the photo in color or black and white before shooting. But in the end, it really depends on the moment of the shot: the background, the mood of the subject, the colors and light I find. For me, Africa and the United Arab Emirates are of course best represented in color photographs, because it is in color that it finds the greatest vibrancy and expressiveness.
Do you spend a lot of time editing your work?
Sure, although I wouldn’t do invasive corrections that distort photos. I need to metabolize the picture, I look at it over and over, and when I’m ready and inspired, I keep working on it. Most of my interventions are aimed at rebalancing lights and shadows, correcting the tint of the shot and enhancing the frame.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a photographer today?
We must never stop learning, observing, experimenting and explaining. We can’t be harassed by technology: sometimes photos that aren’t quite right have a surprising and more communicative power. In my opinion, the difference is not in the latest cameras released on the market, but in training the eyes. Our eyes must acquire sensitivity and speed to know how to recognize the right moment and make the right click.
Never get discouraged…sometimes disappointment leads to new opportunities.
Visit Website – www.patrickschmetzer.com
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