Interview for Rfotofolio
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Bernd Webler. I live in Wiesbaden, Germany. I was born 1962 in Trier and grew up in the Middle Rhine Valley, an area I still feel very connected to. I have been drawing and painting pictures as long as I can remember.
After school I studied graphic design in Mainz focusing mainly on book illustration.
(During my studies I illustrated books by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Franz Kafka, Oscar Wilde and even my own little stories.)
In the mid 80s I started to work as an illustrator but not for long.
I then began to work as a freelancer for television as a graphic designer and typographer (which I still do today).
It is not a fulltime job thus leaving me enough time to realize my own ideas without having to worry how to pay my rent.
How did you get started photography?
Only a few years ago in early 2013 when I visited an exhibition showing some abstract front cover photos for ECM records.
Until then, photography had never played an important role in my life. Though I always had a camera and took snapshots like everyone else did. On that very day I went home turned to my computer and dug out some old photos of mine showing the river Mosel that had completely frozen over in 2012. I started to process them using Photoshop, inspired by but not trying to copy what I had seen earlier. This was how my first series “Frozen” came into being followed by many others. (Most of them can be seen on my website.)
I soon started to integrate textures into my images. I took pictures of concrete walls, wood plates, rusty metal and all kinds of material
that seemed to fit. Camera and computer have replaced my pencil and brushes ever since.
Where did you get your photographic training?
Photography was one of the subjects during my study of graphic design, although I have to add not my favorite one.
I gained some basic knowledge of analogue photography back then but never got into it very deep.
I do not see myself as a professional photographer. My work is more influenced by painters.
Did you have a mentor?
Not as such. But I remember my art teacher in school who very early arouse my interest and enthusiasm for any form of art.
He always encouraged me to study either art or graphic design.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
I would like to spend a day with Andy Goldsworthy. I admire his work and his understanding of nature. I am fascinated by the efforts he is undergoing to create his art, that often exists only for a few hours. The only evidence of its existence, the photos he takes.
What hangs on your own walls?
I am obsessed with music and have an almost insane collection, so a lot of space is covered with LPs and CD racks. But there is some space left for pictures of fellow artists and some for my own work.
Would you share with us an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time and why?
This would definitely be the painting, “Isle of the Dead” by Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901).
There are five versions of it. I saw the first version from 1880 when I was young in a museum in Basel. This picture of inexplicable artistic power and breathtaking beauty left me speechless. It might be one of the reasons for my own obsession with the subject of transience which is obvious in most of my work.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
I can not think of one special image. But an important lesson was when I first realized that my photography had a somewhat personal look.
It was when a former fellow student of mine saw my images and commented they remind him very much of my illustrations.
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
A small digital camera that I can carry with me all the time. I mostly use a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7. Without it I feel naked.
And second of course a computer to do the processing afterwards. That is about it.
Is there one thing that you wish people would stop doing
when it comes to the creative process or the photographic world?
I often hear that among many photographers there is little acceptance of computer altered images. Wouldn’t it be wise to rather judge a picture by what it has to offer than by how it was done. If a picture captures your interest what does it matter if it came directly out of the camera or had thoroughly been composed using digital technology.
Whats on the horizon?
Right now I am still focused on shooting landscapes. It is my favorite subject momentarily.
Maybe I will go back to do more abstract images again in the future. I do not know. I let it come to me.
Lately I have been doing some artwork for various musicians and their CDs and LPs.