Saturday, October 20, 2007

An Interview with Eolake Stobblehouse

Eolake Stobblehouse was born in 1963 in the small town of Karrebæksminde, Denmark. His father was a house painter, and his mother an artistically inclined bohemian out of Sweden. From early childhood, he exhibited a keen interest in philosophy, technology, and not the least, art. He studied the various techniques and disciplines of fine art avidly, and when he got a camera at age 11, he became absorbed by the possibilities of the photographic medium.

Stobblehouse has won many titles and medals for his fine photographic work, work which he later has expanded and refined in the digital realm. He also maintained an occasionally-successful career as a fine arts painter and draughtsman.

Beyond that, Eolake Stobblehouse is a writer of science fiction short stories for acclaimed American publications, and is currently writing about art and Macintosh computers for various magazines. He is published in the USA, the UK, France, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Italy and Spain. He is working on a book about art, creation, and aesthetics, and how they relate to the universe.

Norm: Eolake, you seem to have an eye for seeing the ordinary in life and turning it into an extraordinary photograph. What's your strategy here? Do you plan your shots beforehand, or simply carry a camera around with you wherever you go and shoot whatever catches your eye?

Eolake: Very kind of you. Well, I know photographers who work by putting on a camera like a shirt in the morning. But it never worked for me. If I'm not particularly looking for pictures, I rarely see them. Making photos is a intense mental process for me. I have to "kick the motor into gear" when I do it. Sometimes when I close the camera down and decide I'm done for the day, I can almost feel those high-velocity flywheels start to wind down.

So it's rather wearing, I can only do it when I'm fresh and I've specifically decided to do it.

I don't usually have specific pictures planned ahead, it comes about as a "collaboration with the world."

I often find that the pictures from one session tend to follow a thread, and be of similar mind and compositions. Maybe there's a particular Inspiration that one taps into and plugs into the world when one works like that, and the products reflect it.

Norm: What are your favorite cameras and lenses, and why?

Eolake: Oh boy, I can go on about that. (And sometimes I do on my blog.) My home is full of cameras, many of them classic ones bought cheap on eBay just for decoration. All of those are metal bodies, which you sadly almost never find on new cameras these days.

Back in the film days, camera evolution was slow enough that you could keep a Favorite Camera for ten years. But here in the first decade of the millennium and the digital camera revolution, things are going so fast that even good cameras seem obsolete practically after a week. This will surely level out after a while though. Maybe.

What I tend to like is cameras and lenses which let you work fast, and give high quality images. Especially when combined with a portable camera. So my ideal camera would be shirt-pocket sized and make pin-sharp wall-sized pictures, and take photos hand-held at night. It may take a couple decades for us to get that one.

I like compact cameras, because I'm usually a walk-around photographer, and a big camera gets irritating after a while, and attracts attention.

I also like automaticity. Auto-focus and auto-exposure allows me to concentrate on the composition. Of course, if you need to do special looks like a very blurred backgrounds for example, you need to know what the camera is doing and control it tightly. So automaticity will only take you so far.

Norm: It intrigues me that you run Domai, a website featuring lovely figure photography, and yet your own work seldom contains people. Can you explain why this is?

Eolake: Ah, that changes back and forth. I've done quite many pictures with people in the past, and I'll probably do so again. It only takes a bit more time to arrange and do properly.

Norm: Your photography seems to encompass the entire spectrum of emotions, but in a subtle way. For instance, here is humor, sadness, loneliness, and aggression. Do you find that your own emotions inspire your work, or steer it in different directions?

Eolake: I tend to work with pictures in visual terms, forms, lines, colors, textures, light. But people will always invest emotions into pictures, just try and stop them.

Norm: I personally enjoy your "theme" photos, for instance, your "Study in Scarlet" series is an awful lot of fun. Do you consciously seek to create themes in your photographs, or does it happen spontaneously?

Eolake: Often spontaneously, but it varies. In the case of the Scarlet series, I noticed it happening, and started looking for more subjects with red in them.

Series are fun. If you're lucky you get a bigger-than-the-sum thing happening. And they also make you work more consciously with the pictures, and grow.

Norm: Do you have any advice for beginning photographers who wish to learn more about the craft? How can they learn to be more creative with the photographs they take?

Eolake: These days there are hundreds of web sites where you can see pictures or discuss photography with other happy amateurs.

This may lead to the blind leading the blind though, so I also advice to go to the library and get all the books on photography they have, and also all the books with art photography they can deliver. (You may have to use the service where they get books from other libraries, since photo books are quite expensive, and each library don't have many.)

You can also join a local club. If you're lucky it will have some people who are really interested in pictures. Many people are mostly in it for the chat and coffee though, so you never know.

It is very important to enjoy and study the works of photographers who are better than you. If you can't find anybody better than you, you don't have a problem. Or maybe you do.

See more of Eolake's photos here.