Reinfried Marass is a photographer, a passionate, story telling heartfelt and truthful photographer whose images are visually stunning and can often be thought-provoking. Viewing his pictures you are taken on a journey and given a private insight into a life, a moment, a history, all special, all unique and all very memorable. I was first introduced to his pictures of classic cars and beautiful women, Reinfried obviously loves the beauty and form of the classic car, accessorised with an equally beautiful woman; these images are sensual and have the atmosphere of the golden era of movies with an elegance and sense of mystery.
Reinfried always portrays a story, some imagined and some true. But Reinfried is a diverse photographer not afraid to tackle the harsh reality of life for example in The Wounded Woman Story he took a shocking heartbreaking tale and managed to portray the hell and the empowerment of survival which is a unique ability. You really must view the complete set of images and the story behind them as I cannot in a few sentences begin to describe their power. To take a lifetime of horror and be able to portray a story within a set of images is a rare talent.
Visit the website of Reinfried to really understand his vision on each image created, there’s narrative that places you in the situation of every photograph. A truly exceptional man who I feel is about to surprise us with his photographic journey, who knows what we will see next.
Self taught or art school?
I see myself more as a photographer, less an artist. As the word ‘art’ might scare people off. Maybe the more general term ‘creative’ sounds less harsh. As a photographer I’m self taught – I do not believe that photography can be learned at schools. It’s in you or not. That’s it. To some extent this also might be true for some other creative genres. Can writing be taught at schools or universities? The novel is in you or it is not. Either one can express it in words or not.
Would you attest Leonard Cohen a great voice? And Bob Dylan sounds like a raspy crow. Jim Morrison was picked up by The Doors at the beach because they needed a looker as a frontman. He had never sung before. ‘Light My Fire’ was their first record with him, the rest is music history. All had a message to transport. Most important, they are believable artists. One might mention classical singers with their very well educated voices, very often trained for years. But are they really expressing themselves, or do they just interpret what others have composed decades or centuries ago? Do you believe them?
Some creative genres might call for more training while others might be more tech heavy. In contrary to what people might believe photography is NOT very tech heavy. Women never read manuals; they just go out and take pictures with their ‘square settings.’ And it works. Men, by nature, usually are gear heads, discussing technical terms all day long. Just learn a little bit about the tech basics in a book (the camera manual might do it) or, for god’s sake, attend a workshop if one is not good at self-educating. Photographic technics can be taught, art and creativity in photography not. At least this is what I strongly believe.
Digital cameras and computers, in conjunction with the Internet, have re-boomed photography and a lot of money can be made in photography, but not necessarily (that easy) as a photographer. Today everyone likes to make business on photographers by jumping the photographic train and offering workshops, art classes, portfolio reviews and what ever. Self called curators and bored-housewife-went-white-wall galleries are all around, not to mention the countless photo contests asking for entry fees. Too much to list. An aspiring photographer might get trapped and spending a lot of money by taking such offers, wrongly thinking it might advance them in their photographic skills.
Attending some sort of school for education usually never is a bad thing, no doubt about it. But when it comes to photography I share a quite different opinion. I have talked to and seen great work by pretty young and talented photographers. Just wow. Later they have inscribed in photography classes, or were forwarded by their parents to it. I always tried to convince them to leave asap. I’ve seen their work and by no way could I imagine that any teacher could help them to advance. Quite the contrary. I was afraid they may forward the student to a completely wrong direction, or at worst, destroying their talent. However, as usual ones mileage may vary and I would not die for this opinion as I might be wrong.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
Ah, this is one of the mega-questions. Of course there is a lot of great artwork which I’d like to own, to fill my rooms with and cover my walls with. Surprisingly it will not be a photograph. I prefer the old masters of photography, especially the unsung ones, over the contemporary stuff. But back then when they (the masters) were around and alive, photography wasn’t considered an art form (aka ‘selling fine art prints’) and most work was sold as decorative pieces, no records of sold prints were made, no limited editions. And I wouldn’t lay down a bunch of money for a print I have no idea of how many are around, e.g. the reprint of a reprint of a reprint of an Ansel Adams photograph. Photography is a very reproducible media and a lot of ‘snake oil business’ with so called ‘limited editions’ occurs.
Art collectors rule #1 ‘Never buy art you can’t lift’ opposites art creators rule #1 ‘Create art that is so huge only museums can buy it’. But, in lack of an aircraft hangar, my limited space wouldn’t allow a six ton heavy art installation by e.g. Saudi artist Shadia Alem, so I’d prefer to own a ‘simple’ painting, or ‘simply’ a painting. One I could lift. I always liked the work of Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka. She was a wild and beautiful woman, a fact that helps to like her; next I am a big fan of Art Deco (as well as a fan of ‘The Bauhaus’) in all creative forms. For me ‘Self Portrait In A Green Bugatti’ tops her work, also because it reflects one of my favorite personal subjects ‘Stylish ladies in the company of cars’ (or vice versa, stylish cars in the company of ladies). In addition, her work supports pretty well the theory (well, it’s more a scientific fact) that females have some trouble handling the 3rd dimensions in visual arts (in daily life too). Which (usually) is not a bad thing and in the case of Tamara’s work it adds this special 2D touch. As always there are others to prove me wrong and Georgia O’Keeffe, for example, could express the 3rd dimensions very well in her paintings, but she was trained ‘perspective viewing’ by her hubby and master photographer Alfred Stieglitz (as a photographer by myself I have to note this, you know), a fact that is very well represented in her early work of cityscapes.
Ok, now, with a gun on my head and forced to focus on ONE work only, I would name the rural landscape work ‘Wind From The Sea’ by American painter Andrew Wyeth. The story it tells, or the special feeling it implements by looking at it, might differ and depending on who is looking at it and goes along with my own statement: “An artwork should talk. Over and over again, varying each time it is viewed. Use a title to give a hint, but solely leave it to the viewer to analyze. I believe the interpretation also depends on age, education, experiences of life, culture area, origin or sex. I do not really care ‘how’ my work is seen – as long as the photograph does interact in some way”.
Well, this all is theory ’cause I’m not wealthy enough to collect great and expensive artwork – so I have to create it by myself *smile.
How would you describe your style?
In general I see me and myself as a traditional photographer, where ‘a still photograph still is a photograph.’ One who tries to make ‘analogue’ pictures in a digitized world with digital equipment. Of course, I have to use computers, there is no other way to develop digital frames, but I do not use software to manipulate or fake it, or to camouflage lacking skills in photography. And I do not like the plastic look of images generated by digital equipment.
I am not sure if a have a special style in creative expression. I personally value photographers who can cover various genres, just like a race car driver who is successful in any type of car racing, over the ones who do the same thing over and over again. There are photographers who are great at studio work, but are not able to produce a simple, useful landscape shot. There are photographers who are great at picturing cars and there are photographers doing great at framing women and models. But a few only can assemble both in a single shot, except for putting some nude, or semi-nude, silicon androids on a car’s hood or in the backseat. I call these ‘car girls pics’, not ‘women by cars photographs.’
In my opinion any good photographer should be able to shoot a landscape as good as fashion, as good as sports or action, as good as a street scenes, as good as cars, whatsoever. A photographer should be able to tell a story in a single frame or via a photo essay. Doing work in color or in black & white, whatever the sujet calls for. Shooting editorial work as good as professional work on assignment or to produce commercial work as well as artsy work. Take it just as samples, none can do all and everything.
It is always the same process and a photographer should be able to apply his skills, vision (call it whatever you like) to any photographic genre. Therefore, for me, a special style does not exist – just photography. I like to prove that and to show that in my work by applying different styles and covering various genres.
In general I base (my) photography on 2 processes. The first I call (for myself) ‘Visualization’, where you develop an idea and carry it along in your mind. The photograph is already finished in your head. Then, one day, you assemble all the pieces necessary to set it up and frame it. Doing so you do not take a picture of something that’s already there, you create it. In that way the result is staged, you have modeled it. I prefer the term ‘modeled’ over the term ‘staged’, just because the latter might sound negative and might give the false impression of being faked. This process takes a lot more time and effort and therefore is more demanding, but the result also is more rewarding for the photographer because it is more creative and 100% you. And you can express whatever you want, just like a painter who is free to paint on the canvas whatever comes up the mind.
The contrary, instead of creating an image, is to let the image find you. As seen by the lens. Just walk around, always on alert, able to see and open in your mind to let the image find you. Snipe and snap and run. Street photography is a good example for it. Travel photography too. And landscape photography. You can not create and stage a landscape by adding some mountains and lakes and dunes. It has to be there already. As a painter you can; as a photographer you have to follow some optical and physical laws. Sounds a little bit less effortless compared to ‘Visualization’, but first you have to bring yourself to spots with motives one might eventually find interesting. In other terms: before you can take the photograph you have to be there, which is the real effort in this process. It makes no sense to discuss what method might be better, more creative or whatsoever. Adapt both and do no longer think about it.
Image composition overlays both processes mentioned above and also is one of the basics in my photographic work. The positioning and relationship of points, lines and areas in my photographs is influenced by the ‘German Bauhaus’ and Wassily Kandinsky’s rules ‘from point to line to plane’. Beyond that, to some extent, I use ‘Fibonacci Harmonic Levels’ for composition.
Where are your favourite places to view art?
Well, I am Austrian. Austria is special. Austria is a musical country, less a country for visual arts. Mozart, Strauss, The Trapp Family, The Vienna Boys Choir, The Vienna Opera (Ball) & Co mostly define our image in the world. Egon Schiele is likely the most well know Austrian artist, maybe one of the best know artists in the world at all. The ‘Schiele Cell’ in Austria, where he was jailed, could attract busloads of art enthusiasts and other tourists. But it is mostly closed – on appointment only. I have the impression that many museums in Austria are not run as museums, just as archives. The famous Albertina in Vienna stocks and hides most artwork in a dark, highly ill-fated computerized dungeon (to store artists alphabetically wouldn’t be ‘en vogue’) and also owns Albrecht Dürer’s famous ‘Young Hare’ showing it to the public once in a few years only. What a great concept! One day all the artwork there might be discovered by the ‘Monuments Men.’ Btw, going there and being faced with modern contemporary artwork exhibited in vintage ‘Maria-Theresia’ frames would kill me. But I guess all the authorities there have been educated at ‘art schools.’
With this small excerpt of the situation one could easily imagine that Austria is not a country for photography. Photography to exhibit as art? Austria is one of the few countries who still has no museum dedicated to photography (as far as I know at time of this writing). But not all is lost, in 2013 there was FSA photographer Walker Evans on show in one of our larger cities. Thrilling!
Anyway, I can live with this situation. No problem at all. Just to explain why it is not possible to look at great photography in Austria at an exhibition. So I mainly use the Internet to peep at, to discover and to study artwork. Your blog is a pretty good sample of it. Personally I prefer sites like yours that focus on new talents over the the larger sites and magazines who write about the ‘Big Five’ all day long over and over again. Too easy and too boring. And I love to look at artists personal websites – they are the only ones who are ads-free!
Sure, for an enthusiast there is the ‘real thing’ only and the only way to really enjoy an artwork is to look at it in person. Face to face. Not to mention that artwork, especially the huge ones can’t impress too much on a tiny 320px wide screen of a mobile device. But for discovering, further investigation, some studies and inspiration the Internet does a good ‘quick ‘n dirty’ job for me.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
I’d like to name one of Saudi Arabia’s leading artists Shadia Alem. Mainly because she is a mixed media artist and her creativity is not limited to one genre and she can express herself in paintings, installation, collages, even some writings. To cross various media makes an artist more special and outstanding (imho) and that’s why I like her work. Recently she also has discovered photography and uses it mainly as an artist’s media, where it is legitimate to enhance photos.
In photography I’d like to mention Chinese master Fan Ho representing traditional photography and American photographer Gregory Crewdson representing contemporary photography. Crewdson, a master in visual storytelling, is one of the best samples for ‘visualization’ in photography while Fan Ho masters the ‘as seen by the lens’ genre, just like I have tried to explained above in more detail.
And there is Helmut Newton. There are many many, many nude and erotic photographers out there. Nude and art seems to go hand in hand for reasons I don’t know. Maybe a sheer male thingo. It seems that any male being with a cam, brush and easel needs to capture, paint or chisel nude women. Well, I’m not a nude photographer myself. I tried that and it was very boring. But what makes Newton’s work outstanding for me is the fact he was not a nude photographer in his thinking(!?). For sure he did love and adore women – one must love the subjects to cover in creativity, no other way – but in his work he shows women who, just by accident – and that’s the important difference! – were less clothes at the time of the shot. A quite differenct and oppossing view to the thinking of many photographers who think in erotic terms (tits & ass) only, in doing this degenerating women to sheer sexual objects.
What or who inspires your art?
Mostly I inspire myself. More seriously, as already outlined, I also use the Internet to find some inspiration (or the Internet uses me and the inspiration finds me?). Could be an image, a song, a movie clip, a poem, a short story, whatsoever. Last year, for example, I stumbled upon an iconic image done in 1948 entitled ‘Four Kids For Sale’ shared in a friend’s Twitter account. The image impressed me in a matter of seconds. I further investigated and did find out the real tragical and impressive story behind it. And I recognized that it would be possible for me to remake it with a befriended family by using their own kids and own house with an entry that looked similar to the original one. In other terms: I was inspired.
“There exists an unwritten contract, a form of a codex, between the photographer and the viewer. A photograph must reflect the truth. A photographer must be credible. No lies. Raw and honest”. This is written in my statement and therefore I am not allowed to fake in my work and for me it was most important that the pictured family is also a family in real life (and not a staged one) and captured in their real, own home. Well, I usually do not clone someone else work, but in this case I tried to be as close to the original image and storyline as possible. I just added the little dog (also a real family member, of course) as my personal note. The intention for the remake was to put focus on the tragic story again because not much has changed in our world and similar tragedies happen daily in some parts on our glorious globe.
In my teens I started to watch the intellectual movies by all the great filmmakers. Seriously said, I was forced to watch them because back then no other movies were around on TV. Today I am most grateful for it. And did learn a lot from their cinematic photography. And I still do. The Italian Neorealism by Fellini, DeSica, Antonioni, Pasolini, Visconti, Rossellini. The French (and also American) Film Noir genre. Buñuel, Chabrol, Lelouch. The weird Brits like Ken Russell and Peter Greenaway. Ingmar Bergman, Carlos Saura, Pedro Almodovar, just to name a few more.
Movies and still photographs have something in common. On the other hand they differ a lot. As a filmmaker you have 25 frames a second and several minutes, or hours, to tell a story. As a photographer you have one single frame only. A photographer can’t write a dialogue. No talking actors. You have to trust the image to tell the story. For me it is easier to tell a story in a single frame, or more complex, in some narrative photography via an essay. I would not be able to fill 90 minutes or so with the same story. This is a filmmakers genre.
Where’s your studio and what’s it like?
I’m not a studio photographer, therefore I don’t run a studio. I don’t like to limit myself inside the walls of a studio in front of a white screen moving lighting equipment from one corner to the other and adding ‘creative lighting’ from front, up, side and back. I prefer to work with minimal equipment thus I can keep focus on the subject in front of the camera / lens. I no longer use a range of lenses nor do I ever use any light equipment. Not even a tripod, etc. Of course this didn’t come overnight. Men are gearheads and starting in photography I also thought I must own lenses ranging from superwide up to mega-telelenses to be prepared for any situation coming up. But soon I wised up and recognized that I missed many shots just because all was gone with the wind before I had my mega-gear ready. Today I’m back to the roots and my personal work is mainly done with a simple rangefinder camera and one 35 mm lens only. But of course this depends on one’s shooting style and genre one is in. Sport- and action photography is very gear heavy, as are others.
Do you have any studio rituals?
See above – no studio, no shamanistic studio rituals.
What are you working on currently?
Well, nothing special so far. The shooting plan 2014 (sounds fancy, ha?) is not outlined yet. I like road movies very much and there always was an old idea in my head to travel some counties of the U.S. to do a road photo essay where I’d like to use a classic Pontiac GTO model year 1964 (the father, or if you prefer, the mother of American muscle cars) to be the leading part of the story. But these cars have raised tremendously in price and are meanwhile too pricey for a personal project. According to my own statement where I am not allowed to fake, I can’t use a cheaper GTO clone, even though one wouldn’t notice this in the images at all. So, for now, I skipped this idea again.
In addition, I believe the automotive world is changing (very fast) to electric powered cars (which is a very good thing, imho) and a Tesla would be more appropriate for a story rather than a fossil fuel burner. But I simply have no feeling for modern cars. For me classic cars have a history, told and forwarded by every dent and scratch they may share. Just like a human being. Classic cars have a soul. The history of the model, the whole brand or the whole era it stands for – all this I may be able to transport in a photograph. But I have no idea how to do this with modern cars, they are just like newborn babies, not to mention they all look the same, styled by the same design software. Again, one has to love the objects one pictures.
In general I’m switching to other genres and subjects. I did picture classic cars a lot. Too much. Time to advance. I always was familiar with classic cars due to my engineering background and I photographed them also because I have easy access to all brands and makes, even the most expensive ones. And because they are a great make up for females (or viceversa?). My portfolio is too car heavy and one might think I’m an automotive photographer.
And I will no longer use women for modeling in my personal work. Women do not like to work with me. I use no make up artists, no stylists and I do not retouch them. Most women are corrupted by this portrait collages featured in the magazines. Fashion and beauty photographers, who retouch them heavenly in any way, they love. Me, they don’t love. So, in general, 2014 might bring a change for me and my work.
Where can we buy your art?
I sell my work by myself, and by myself only. No middle men or third parties are involved. Well, this is true only for the primary market. The secondary market I can’t influence. I also don’t do exhibitions or sell my work through galleries. Some charity auctions are an exception. There are numerous reasons why I don’t do this. Just let me share a few personal thoughts on it:
As already stated above, photography is a very reproducible media, and I think there is a lot of cheating going on in this ‘newly’ discovered photography art market, especially with limited editions. As long as I sell by myself I can certify that a print is part of a limited edition as well as a genuine reproduction, inspected and numbered by me. My signature also attests that the total edition will not be exceeded and no additional editions of the work, regardless of size and media, are issued. I can only attest this as long as I have control over my work and editions. Well, one always can cheat to some extent. Finally it’s a question of honor and reputation.
I like to keep my freedom. In general I don’t like to sign contracts. Signing the wrong contracts can kill an artist’s career. Numerous famous examples have proven that.
And I prefer to have some connection to the collector, enthusiast or investor who buys my work. Selling myself enables this, selling via a third party usually not. And vice versa, many collectors very much enjoy having some kind of relationship to the creator it need not be a pretty strong connection or lifetime friendship. And buying at the source is always, always best. Cheaper too, if one considers the usual markup by art dealers; not to mention auction premiums and some other fees involved.
I am not addicted to money and material things. In general money has no special meaning to me. But, of course some money is needed to sail through the life. For me an investor or company, who just like to invest by speculating in an increasing prize, is as welcomed as any enthusiast, who praises my genius all day long *smile.
I am not one of these Marxist creators who think money is bad at all and only art drives the world. I am not that naive and even artists must eat. At the end it’s a buyer’s money who founds an artist’s life and enables an artist to go ahead in his/her ‘creative visions’. Therefore it is most important to note (and stick to it): never bite the hand who feeds you.
What are your ambitions?
Ah, this sounds like a rephrased ‘tell us about your creative vision’ question. I can’t answer it in a too serious way because I think this is sheer gallery nomenclature. I take an image because it’s there, and I’m there, and because I can do it. Sorry, but that’s it. It’s a passion. A life’s journey seen through the lens which I just like to share. And I am most happy if one joins this journey by acquiring some work, laying down some money (by doing so I know s/he does really loves the work) and putting it at their walls, looking at it and enjoying it. Making people happy and getting great feedback from your collectors to make YOU happy – what else can one ask for in life?