Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Robert Lebeck: Welt

It doesn't happen often that, when leafing for the first time through the pages of a photo book, I'm so much taken up with what I'm looking at that I'm forgetting time and plunge into the world that is in front of my eyes. I'm not really sure why that is, I simply do then connect instinctively. To me, Robert Lebeck photographs as if he were painting. By this I mean that these images look arranged although I know them to be found - and that makes them stunning, exceptional, powerful. Moreover, given the fact that many of the scenes captured aren't extraordinary at all, this is nothing short of a miracle.
San Blas Islands, Panama, 1967 @ Robert Lebeck

Once Lebeck was asked to photograph Claudia Schiffer. She was very young then and inquired  politely. "Mr Lebeck, how do you think we should do the photos?" After quite a while, he said: "I thought with a camera."

And then there's the pic of Romy Schneider, in Quiberon, by the sea, that is accompanied by words that reveal an attitude that I have lots of sympathy for: "I'm not one for unscrupulous point-and-shoot photography. I think it's important to respect motifs. I always photographed Romy Schneider, for example, so that she was not distorted and so that I could come back again - even in the rehab clinic in Quiberon, and even shortly before her death."
Racibórz, Poland, 1985 @ Robert Lebeck

I thought it interesting to learn that Lebeck only in hindsight became aware that his photographs had something in common. "If you thumb through the colour photos of this book, you'll soon slip into Robert Lebeck's rhythm and eye. It is the rhythm of a stroll and a journey, and an eye that searches but doesn't stipulate", as Jochen Siemens put it.

Robert Lebeck's Welt is a truly rare tome. I say this because of the feelings his photos evoke in me. I do sense warmth and dignity, empathy and joy, meditativeness and pensiveness.
Bolshoi ballet dancers, Moscow, 1976 @ Robert Lebeck

Robert Lebeck in his own words:
"The only photographic training I had was reading the operating instructions for my first Retina camera."
 "A good photo is like life – multifarious, impressive and sometimes hard to take.“
 "A photographer is an eye and a memory, that's all."

Robert Lebeck 
German / English
stern Fotografie Nr. 75

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