We are all influenced by the images we see right through our lives and as a photographer I have been highly influenced with my travel photography by one particular book, ‘London – city of any dream’ by German photographer Erwin Fieger.
When I was in my early 20s I came across this book in my local Winchmore Hill library in north London. It was so incredibly inspiring to me that I would hang on to it until I had to take it back or pay a fine, then immediately take out again – this went on for many months.
Now I can look back and realise that the images and prints in that book have dictated my style but over the last 50 years for which I am very grateful. The book is mostly Double Page Spreads, one image running over two pages so there is the inevitable thread holding it together, but it is much better than many books I see today.
Fieger used a Leica and mostly a 200 mm lens to take the images on Agfa colour negative film. I even bought a secondhand Leica IIIb with a 50 mm f1.5 lens, the wide aperture was a revelation, but I found the style hard at first.
When I had my 2014 exhibition in a gallery opposite the British Museum, I called it ‘Kyoto – city of dreams’ as homage to the great photographer that Erwin Fieger was. I found that he had died just a few months before this and I still regret I never got in touch with him so to thank him in person for being so inspirational. I produced a book of the images as well.
Over the years I became more confident in taking photos this way and the next book which will soon be published has many images in that impressionistic style I found so wonderful, ‘Geisha Dreams’.
Books can play a great part in forming any photographer’s ideas, not to slavishly copy but to trigger your own way using the style. Art by some of the great old masters can be truly inspirational as well, For instance, paintings by Caravaggio and Rembrandt can be analysed for composition and lighting, even more to feed the mind of any creative photographer. Their work can be seen online of course, but if you have a chance, go and see real paintings in a gallery, there is nothing that can match that.
All cameras are just a device with which to tell a story, and that story is yours, whatever you make of it. But I have always thought it necessary to go further than just telling a story in a conventional way, and by doing so allowing the viewer to add their own interpretation and so involve them. It has certainly worked for me over the years and can for you too.
To see some great images that are bound to inspire you in London for free, head down to City Hall on the South Bank to view the Travel Photographer Of The Year exhibition outside which is open 24 hours now until 30th April
(c) Jeremy Hoare – 2 April 2019