In this article, I wanted to share a few more insights into my thoughts on photography as well as my new project, Black Gold. I have been on here on EMULSIVE twice so far, but for all those who have missed these previous posts, let me introduce myself to you.
My name is Tim Heubeck and I am a photographer based in Germany. I run a website, Instagram, and a YouTube channel; all under the name of wasteoffilm.
The focus of my personal work is black and white film photography. Moreover, I exclusively work on self publishing books and zines. My ultimate purpose in photography is to show the world how it looks through my eyes, while capturing a timeless feel of the world. It is less about how things we are familiar look like, than moreover with what lays beyond the surface. Experiences, memories, and encounters forming our life and consequently who we are. Working on long-term project and focusing on black and white film photography has enabled me to to bring back the physicality of art, and revealing the only true way of showing a photograph: through print. The focus of my work is not to produce images for the internet, but for the real world.
At first, I was wondering about which topics I should write about, and most essentially what would be interesting to the reader. Therefore, I started to write something about the role of the film process in my photography, only later to realize that this is not really what seems important to talk about. Honestly, throughout the last time my interest in gear, cameras, and reading about as well as discussing these topics has been almost non-existent. Talking about gear is what unites many photographers, and seems to unite everyone rather easily. But I wonder, what’s the point of it? Why don’t we start focussing more on the outcome, studying other people’s work, and most essentially photography itself?
The technical process and aspect of photography is key to be understood and to ultimately be able to use cameras and processing to the maximum and to your advantages. Although, at a certain point it all seems rather uninteresting, and while there surely will always be more to learn or know, once you figured everything out you really need to take photographs and to process them, you stop looking for other options and focus completely on what it is you do and also how you do it.
Photography and the book
Some might wonder why should one take the odds and risks to publish ones work on printed matters. In my opinion, the relationship between photography and the book is something unique. In the respect that the pure act of printing photographs on paper and binding it, suddenly provides the artist with an almost endless array of options. On the one hand, the more “technical“ aspects of the process (f.ex., book size, cover design and material, inside paper, printing process, and more), and on the other hand the options in terms of the layout of the images on the pages, arrangement of images, the individual pairing of them; just to name a few different aspect. If you start factoring all of the various options in, you start to realize just how many there are.
Ultimately, the goal is to alter or support the message you want the project to convey to the viewer. An important influence is always represented by the paper stock. For example, you could strengthen the grittiness of your work with a choice of rougher and uncoated paper stock and a larger paperweight. But also the size of the pages themselves, and how you choose to present them is an essential aspect. At this point, it becomes obvious how many conscious or unconscious thoughts go into making the final end product.
The images shown in the book and the overall book have to function as in a state of flow. Some consider the photo book as a collection of a photographer’s best single images. But personally, I believe that this is the wrong approach and mindset. Just like a novel, a photo book should have stronger and weaker parts as well as more reduced and more intense photographs; this is essentially what makes a good photo book. Sometimes, individual photographs may seem too weak at first sight, but as the whole sequence and story of the book unfolds, they suddenly find their perfect place to ultimately emphasize the message aimed to convey. Ultimately, good photo books develop an almost effortlessly seeming flow of images that all work to some sort of climax told through the visual story.
The logical consequence – self publishing
What got me into more seriously into photography were photo books. Exhibitions always need you to be there in the right time and at the right place. With photo books, you have a mini-exhibition waiting for you to be opened. There is something about the book that makes the photographs more than they are individually; photo books have a variety of influences on the viewer. Size, paper stock, sequencing, printing methods, and many more factors influencing the complete feel and impression of the book.
If it were not for books, I probably would not be taking photographs anymore. I truly believe this. Posting images solely for the internet seems pointless to me. It’s uploaded, and the second it’s on, it’s over. There is little to appreciate in this I believe. There are too many factors influencing the presentation of ones work if it’s shared through the internet. Take, for example, the different screens the images are viewed on into consideration. Small, large, calibrated, not calibrated, and the list could go on and on. In the end, you have lost all of the power over how the work is presented, which is such an obviously important factor to consider. Do you really want to give up this power?
My new project – “Black Gold”
Dubai is famous for its thriving economy, sheer wealth, and unique yet hostile location in the middle of the desert. Revenues from the oil industry initially built and planted the seed for what this city one day would become. Today, this once so important industry accounts for only a fraction of Dubai’s economy. Nevertheless, the association of this city with oil and its inherent money has seemingly sticked with the people. But just as the oil industry represents the roots and today has lost its key role, the old part of Dubai seems outdated at first sight.
Just as much as the importance of the oil industry has diminished over the years. Yet, it represents everything this city once was, and consequently inherits its traditions. But ultimately, it also is perfectly showcasing all this city isn’t anymore. Just like the old harbor, where they load ships that seem to have arrived centuries ago. Everything that once defined this city captured perfectly, preserved in this part of town. Nowadays, these once authentic places seem to get transformed into nothing but a tourist attraction. Perfectly polished, it all of a sudden shares very little resemblance with the real traditions and feelings once associated with this place.
The aim of my fifth publication “Black Gold“ was to capture slices of real life. Daily scenes and realities, usually not seen, and thus offering the viewer a real look into how Dubai looks like, away from the sights and tourist markets. It is not a project which wants to showcase the prosperity and wealth often associated with this city. Rather, it’s a portrait of a city away from all of the sights, malls, and man-made beaches.
My fascination for the city of Dubai and the Middle East, in general, has always been big. It’s a place full of traditions, yet one that is met by modern times and the western world. It’s an interesting mixture of old and new as well as real and fake.
The book features a total of 27 photographs on 46 pages. The images are printed on uncoated paper, and intentionally a warmer overall tone of the photographs was chosen in order to complement the images as well as the portrayed city, located in the middle of the desert, and surrounded by nothing but warm sand. Prominent by this example, the choice of paper stock as well as the way the photographs are reproduced and displayed convey exactly what the project is about. The warmth of the print and the rougher paper stock are ultimately an almost perfect representation of the hostile desert Dubai is located in.
~ Tim Heubeck
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