Sabine Kohler

sabine-kohler-1
Sabine Kohler

Portrait

by Sabine Kohler (Austria)

I started Photography a long time a ago. It was always very important for me. First it was a kind of docomentary, seeing and catching those special things and moments I found while travelling, in the everyday life and also in . It became also very useful for my fashion shop, doing pictures for the homepage, newsletters and representing our stile in my pictures.


Portfolio from the Portrait workshop with Richard Dumas, October 2013.

Written review by ANDREAS J. HIRSCH,
Independent curator, writer and photographer

From the ten photographs in the portfolio of Sabine Kohler, the first five - I suppose - are from the workshop with Richard Dumas. Common to them is a certain degree of reduction that separates them from the other photographs in the portfolio. If the aim, as Sabine Kohler expresses in her text, is about beauty and emotion, then reduction is certainly a good way to focus on the emotion and the best way of rendering it visible photographically. Photographing people means to enter what has been called the "Theatre of the Face" and so looking well at the faces and closely watching every little aspect of an expression is one of the keys of mastering this field.

From the ten photographs in the portfolio of Sabine Kohler, the first five - I suppose - are from the workshop with Richard Dumas. Common to them is a certain degree of reduction that separates them from the other photographs in the portfolio. If the aim, as Sabine Kohler expresses in her text, is about beauty and emotion, then reduction is certainly a good way to focus on the emotion and the best way of rendering it visible photographically. Photographing people means to enter what has been called the "Theatre of the Face" and so looking well at the faces and closely watching every little aspect of an expression is one of the keys of mastering this field.

Looking for beauty and emotion can be tricky, since not always the emotion is clearly visible and beauty, ultimately, is a thing of the self and - if speaking about the visual arts - finally rests in the eye of the onlooker. This inner aspect of the self is what also connects beauty and emotion. The task of the photographer to lure out into the open the deeper emotions is certainly not an easy one. So it pays to think more closely about the emotions you want to show and then to enter into a dialogue - which can also be silent (!) - with the person in front of the camera.

If we take a look at the eyes of the young women photographed, only one of them - in image number 5 - looks directly at the camera. This is also the photograph with the strongest emotional presence, at least as far as I am concerned. It goes deeper than most of the others, who happily - nicely lit and composed, beautiful faces without doubt - remain on the surface. It is fine to be content with a certain interesting visuality, which is certainly achieved in the photographs of the portfolio, but if you want more, then deeper you have to look.

Of course having the model look directly into the camera is not the only way to go, but in the context of the photographs in this set and with the aim of making the photographs stronger, it could one aspect to experiment with.

Image number 4 shows a certain element of insecurity, with the model looking slightly past the photographer. This could be a flaw, but at the same time a quality of the photograph, a certain ambiguity which turns out stronger the longer you look at it. It also has to do with the abovementioned reduction: there is nothing to distract us from the woman in the picture, there even is no special posing.

When speaking about the importance of details there may be a few, also technical, aspects worth mentioning. Image number 1 is slightly of of focus, which generally speaking can of course be interesting, but is not in this case.

The kind of visuality those photographs display does not go too well with technical compromises, so I would discard image number 1. In image 2 there is a hair in the dark area in front of the model's eye, which in this type of picture should not be there. The framing in some cases brings elements extremely close to the edge of the frame - the hair in number 5, the arm and hair in image number 3 for instance. Again there is nothing to be said against going pretty close to the edge of the frame or cutting elements of the image off deliberately, but in the given cases I would allow for a little more space. I suppose I need not mention the nose of the person on the right of image number 8, which visually collides with an element from the wall in the background.

Generally speaking, it might be helpful for some time to work more with a portrait orientation of the frame, since some of the photographs feel as if they might be even more interesting that way than in the landscape oriented frame they are in. Maybe also experimenting with a quare format might lead to good results and might be closer to the personal style that the photographer is looking for. - I do not wish to be too picky with details, but essentially it is the little details that often go unnoticed, that separate the excellent from the merely good enough.

And then there is the case of image number 10, which somehow falls out from all the rest. Despite the photograph being visually interesting and also showing a good face, despite the nice composition, an interesting mood and also - let me point this out here (!) - the care that was taken of the details, despite all this there is something wrong with it.

It has to do with a certain element of artificiality, with a certain aspect of being too arranged to release its full potential. I have the clear feeling of attacking here one of the photographs that Sabine Kohler is proud of. And she can! She can be clearly proud of the photographic experience, her good eye and the quality of her photographs. But if she wants to move further, and she abviously does so, she will have to "kill her darlings" and enter new and more irritating terrain.

She will have to be extremely strict with her pictures and go only for the ultimate best and strongest ones, and she will have to confront the emotions of her models, lure them away from their poses and lure herself away from the styles that are so tempting to imitate, and focus on the emotion - beauty will follow in the course.


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