Documentary Photography

In converstaion with Sönke C. Weiss

Sönke C. Weiss was born near Hamburg, Germany. After graduating from Indiana University in Mass Communication and a second B.A. in German Literature, he went on to graduate school. He left Texas with a Masters of Fine Arts in Directing and Playwriting from the University of Houston. After twelve years in international journalism and six years in the aid industry he became a filmmaker. IBYIZA BIRIMBERE is his 2nd independent documentary.

How did you first get interested in photography and begin making works?

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

In 1967 I was born into a clan of barbers and bartenders - and changed family history. For more than 20 years I have worked as a photographer, videographer and award-winning reporter in Africa, Asia, the Balkans and Russia for international publications. My off-beat documentaries have been featured at film festivals and in art house cinemas, my photos - next to being published in Vogue, The Baltimore Sun and Focus Magazin Germany, just to name a few - exhibited widely in well-known galleries, museums and public places like the US Senate, the National Press Club and the World Bank, all in Washington D.C., the European Commission, the German Parliament, etc.

Can you talk about this choice and how are you approaching and thinking about the process?

“Two principles that guide my choices as an artist: The first principle embraces the collaborative quality of the art. The second principle embraces the magical nature of art”

My work is an independent movement against the cultural dynamics that increasingly try to divide us. I believe in a more fluid and creative approach to life; forward thinking people for whom the need to explore life from all angles and embrace a worldview of multiple attitudes is more important than anything we are offered through the mainstream. Hence: I am tolerant, exploratory, curious.

How does autobiography enter into your work?

Two principles that guide my choices as an artist: The first principle embraces the collaborative quality of the art. The second principle embraces the magical nature of art. In this ephemeral realm, we are free to explore the human condition limited only by the parameters of our imagination.

Favourite film to shoot on?

What‘s film? He he he, just kidding. Kodak Tmax 100 used to be my favourite film.

What camera do you use the majority of the time?

The love of my life: Leica M6.

How would you define your style of street photography?

The invisible photographer. Nobody knows I was even there.

Favourite photography book?

The Silence by Gilles Peress.

Which photo are you currently most proud of?

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

Gulu, northern Uganda. Girl in front of yellow Wall.

You‘re constantly travelling the world, taking photos and running workshops in different cities. What are your favourite subjects and locations?

Everything interests me.

Biggest inspiration?

Love, peace and happiness.

A short message:

Photography is a bit like swimming. The one and only evident rule: Don’t drown.

“The love of my life: Leica M6”

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

Biography:

In 1967 I was born into a clan of barbers and bartenders - and changed family history. For more than 20 years I have worked as a photographer, videographer and award-winning reporter in Africa, Asia, the Balkans and Russia for international publications. My off-beat documentaries have been featured at film festivals and in art house cinemas, my photos - next to being published in Vogue, The Baltimore Sun and Focus Magazin Germany, just to name a few - exhibited widely in well-known galleries, museums and public places like the US Senate, the National Press Club and the World Bank, all in Washington D.C., the European Commission, the German Parliament, just to name a few. In 2001, I won the Frans Vinkh Prize for international journalism, awarded by the European Commission in cooperation with the Institut d‘études politiques de Paris, in 2019 I was among the winners of the L. Fritz Gruber Prize for photography. From 2002 - 2008, I worked worldwide as a photographer and videographer for an international charity (Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc.) as well as on the African continent (40 different countries) based in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is where I photographed my first two photo exhibitions and humanitarian campaigns. The subject: HIV and Aids. Another subject close to my heart is the issue of children in armed conflicts around the world. I have published several books concerning this problem. My Pulitzer Prize-nominated stage play 'Butterflies of Uganda' also addresses this human rights violation and premiered in 2007 in Los Angeles. I then produced and directed it at the National Theatre in Kampala, Uganda, in 2008. It won several prestigious theatre awards. I have directed and produced more than a dozen professional stage productions in the US, Russia and Africa. My artistic roots go back to my college years. I studied under Edward Albee (Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?), Robert Wilson (Einstein on the Beach) and José Quintero (Co-founder of the Circle in the Square Theatre) at the University of Houston and the Alley Theatre. I am holding a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in directing and playwrighting next to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Mass Communications and a second BA in German Literature from Indiana University. I am based in Paris, France, and Dortmund, Germany, and available as a freelance writer, photographer and/or videographer for appropriate projects. My work is an independent movement against the cultural dynamics that increasingly try to divide us. I believe in a more fluid and creative approach to life; forward thinking people for whom the need to explore life from all angles and embrace a worldview of multiple attitudes is more important than anything we are offered through the mainstream. Hence: I am tolerant, exploratory, curious. Two principles that guide my choices as an artist: The first principle embraces the collaborative quality of the art. The second principle embraces the magical nature of art. In this ephemeral realm, we are free to explore the human condition limited only by the parameters of our imagination.

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

© 2018, S.C. Weiss

Source: soenke-weiss