📸 Behind The Lens: Christoph Zoubek
For this ’behind the lens’ edition we had the pleasure of having a tête-à-tête with the talented Christoph Zoubek. He is no stranger to Scenius Gallery, as we already published several of his must see essays. We thought it’s about time to get to know this analog photographer a bit better. Curious about his biggest inspiration and why he choose to shoot exclusively on film? You’ll discover it all (and more) below.
What inspired you to take your first photograph and which camera did you use?
I don’t exactly remember my very first photo, but one of the earlier ones I took of my parents while on holidays in St. Petersburg, Florida – on the terrace of the iconic pinkish Don Cesar hotel. I was probably six years old then. And I still remember the camera: a Nikon F3 loaded with Kodak Gold 200.
Did you study photography or are you self-taught?
I’m currently finishing my medical studies – which means I’m not a professional and completely self-taught. Almost everything I know about (analog) photography and film developing comes from online resources, my own experience – and mistakes.
Which other artists have influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing and career path?
As we all are these days, I’m constantly confronted by pictures and there is a lot of subconcious influence going on for sure. Yet what I am most attracted to is the presentation of printed images on a wall or in a coffee table book. I admire the works of Richard Avendon, Jean-Loup Sieff and Peter Lindbergh, without trying to imitate them. Another major influence are probably the films of Eric Rohmer – more as a mood than necessarily through the images.
What is your current camera set up and what is your favorite lens?
My day-to-day cameras are a Pentax 67II, Contax 645 and my Leica MP. Occasionally I also use a Nikon F6 and other Leica Ms (M2/M3) plus my granddad’s Rolleiflex 2.8F. I also own a Linhof Technika 4x5“ from the 1980s – built in my hometown Munich. My fav lenses are the 75/2.8 AL for the Pentax, the Leica Summicron 35/2 and the incredibly sharp Zeiss 80/2 for the Contax.
Do you exclusively shoot analog and why do you prefer this above digital?
I shoot exclusively on film. My only digital camera nowadays is in my smart phone. The main reasons is probably the fact that it helps you to slow down and create something tangible – a negative/postive. Besides that I love the process of developing and printing. I hope to find some more time to do this again in the nearer future.
If we look at your portfolio you seem to prefer working with natural lightning, why this preference?
That’s true. I rarely use artificial light – mostly when I can’t avoid it or if I want to create a special look. I prefer (indirect) natural light since it’s usually softer than flash and it is easier for me to understand since it is already there when I look through the viewfinder. Plus: I prefer simple setups and do not want to carry around cables and batteries.
What if we gave you carte blanche, what subject and shooting location would you choose?
Book me a trip to Matera, Italy with two models and an accommodation in one of the Sassi in the old part of the town.
What reaction do you hope to achieve and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?
I’d say my aim is rather to create images that are in my head and come close to my own vision. If the result appeals to other people or even inspire them – that’s really great. and I love the praise and reactions I receive. But this is not my foremost goal – although when eventually presenting pictures I try to consider the appeal those might have on others.
You are showing photographs in several different ways: on magazine-type paper, framed or in books. Do you think about the final materiality of the image when you shoot it?
As I mentioned previously the ultimate goal is always the print – a tangible imager, art you can actually hold. And yeah, I definitely think of it while shooting. I always try to get a perfect framing in order to be able to show and/or print the final image with the original negative border. And of course I’m always trying to get that one image that would fit a magazine/book/gallery, but that’s just not realistic. In some cases the (happy) accidents emerge as far more interesting than the planned results.
If you had to choose one of out of all your photographs, which one would it be?
This is constantly changing because one is eveloving as an artist and accordingly adapting the own taste. Besides that I’m really bad at curating myself. When uploading images on instagram or to my website I’m constantly in doubt which images I prefer. I guess I’d just need a curator… Here is one of my current favs.