Sunday, 6 May 2012

Volker Hinz

"Volker Hinz is a German photographer, and the German bit is important because for more than 40 years, Hinz has been one of the eyes of the country", I read in the biographical notes that Jochen Siemens contributed to this impressive tome. 

Hinz has been shooting photos for stern for almost 40 years, a selection of his shots can now be seen in the stern FOTOGRAFIE series. Dominik Wichmann of stern sees Hinz' photographs as "both snapshots and pictures", and characterises them aptly as "both charmingly reserved and relentlessly intimate".

Looking at the extraordinary photographs in this work, there is no doubt that Volker Hinz is a great photographer. I often wondered how the shots came about. The one of Muhammad Ali at his desk, for instance. Was this an unguarded moment? Or was Ali told to please sit in his chair and sleep/relax/close his eyes? Unfortunately, we are not told. 

Volker Hinz was born on the banks of a river in 1947, in a house on the northern flank of the River Elbe in the Hamburg district of Blankenese. "Looking out onto a river teaches you how to look: in the foreground the riverbank, in the middle the ships, and beyond them the land on the other side. And seeing spaces means seeing dreams", writes Jochen Siemens. Although I do like this, I fail to see what it has to do with the photographs in this book that mostly show portraits of people.

The Hinz way of photographing has been called "the art of intuition and atmosphere" (Siemens). Well said and true. Not least because Volker Hinz makes you see famous people not wearing their usual public masks but their human faces.

Volker Hinz
stern Fotografie
Portfolio Nr. 67

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