#262. Markus Renner on formats, composition and learning
Markus Renner is an award-winning photographer from Austria whose images appeal to me a great deal because of their composition and out of time quality. In this interview, we discuss his format choices and decision-making process. All images are copyright Markus Renner and all link to the Purity Gallery on Markus’s website. I urge you to visit Markus’s website for the consistently stunning quality of his interpretations of the landscape in the most inspiring locations on the planet.
[Pascal] In your recent photography, you seem to be using the square format and elongated panoramas, with very little in between. What attracts you to these formats? Do you have strong views about composition ?
[Markus Renner] I prefer the square format, because of its harmonious appearance. In fact I decide between the 1:1 and 1:3 format, when viewing a scene through the lens on location. The decision is influenced a lot by the scene itself. I always try to become one with the scene before I push the release button. That’s very important for my work! Then I choose the format that gives the image all the mood and atmosphere, that I feel on the location. Composition is very important for me – because I still photograph analog (film).
[Pascal] In your “Purity” series, there are no shadows. Objects simply emerge from the screen / print as if lit from inside or photographed at night. How do you achieve that “purity” and what do you look for in such a scene ?
[Markus] Like the old masters in painting, I try to reduce the picture to the maximum in my Purity series. I look for special structures, patterns and objects. I ignore the small details in the picture. Water or fog in combination with longtime exposure help me to fade out unimportant details. Following the motto: all that is not long enough in the same position is not important. That´s how the pictures get that soothing atmosphere.
[Markus] As I said before, i´m still shooting film. The square pictures are done with a Hasselblad 503 CW. For the panoramic images I use the Linhof Technorama 617 SIII. It’s important for me as an artist to make my pictures with an analog workflow. The whole working process is slower and very different to the digital photography. If you take film pictures, you have to consider composition, exposure time, f-stop and so on before you shoot. It´s the opposite of digital photography, where you can point and shoot endlessly and always check your result on the display immediately.
[Markus] Yes, I often have exposure times of 10 minutes to 1 hour. From many trials I learned how long I have to expose to get what I want.
[Markus] I trained myself to see the world with different eyes. I have no elaborated scheme what I want to photograph. When I see something special in the landscape, I simply know it´s time to shoot.
[Markus] Learning by doing and always being critical to your own images, is what I find most important. Look at your pictures and figure out WHY your personal favorites are your personal favorites. Compare them and try to figure out what they have in common. So you can go more and more in the right direction and build your own style.
[Markus] Right now I am organizing an exhibition tour in China. Also Other exhibitions are planned. To stay updated, please visit my website www.markusrenner.com
[Markus] Originally I started with photo-realistic painting, when I was 14 years old. I took pictures in order to paint them on canvas. Over the years I reduced painting and concentrated more on photography. I´m a self-educated person. I think learning by doing is the best training you can get. As far as I can remember, I always looked at photographs and tried to figure out why I liked them and why I can’t get enough of them. I think, that it is very important to be different to other photographers. It took me years to get my personal view and my own style. Now I’m 41, so it was quite a journey ;).
Markus’s artist statement
Reduced to an absolute maximum: On journeys all my senses are awake for new point of views or perspectives. I discover here those extraordinary views in which the world starts to shine in an exciting light.
“Purity” symbolizes ideal clarity in which a moment transfers into lively pictures with timed depths. The perfect moment does not count for me for the perfect staged photograph. I do not compose an idealized image of reality. My pictures are rather the visual expression of a time frame which i literally absorb with all senses. When I arrive at a certain place, I allow the encounter with this place to flow through my lens into my emotional world during my presence. I turn my view then onto certain shapes and shades which have attracted my attention by their uniqueness and their aura full of character. Like this, small details are especially important for the entire artwork. This created artwork language is a pure mirror image of my personal perception and goes beyond terms like day time, lightening conditions, light shade, and lightening. Resting and moving are flowing into each other and unite in one picture my impressions and the richness of nuances in nature as a matter of face.
I allow my camera to catch the moment of a photography in its whole. My pictures aren’t snap shots. They rather invite the viewer to experience its creation in all its intensity and to see every “stroke of the brush” growing and to feel it. They invite the viewers to feel my art (as I do) with all senses.
Markus Renner was born in 1972 in St. Georgen / Austria. His artistic path guided him already early from photo realistic painting to a unique style of photography which has a lot in common with building art at first sight. Being an autodidact, Marcus Renner found his own highly emotional connection to photography. His internationally rewarded pictures and series of photos are created from the moment and awake from their inner engagement to life. He stages mainly spacious landscapes from around the world with great passion. His photographic journeys brought him to Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Iceland, Namibia, Peru, Kamchatka, Nicaragua and the USA.
More photographs by Markus