March 17, 2020
Photography by Rouven Kurz
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Rouven Kurz is a photographer living in Cologne Germany. He specialises in sauntering the streets, ever seeking that decisive moment or compelling forms or enjoying those ordinaries. Rouven's work was recently digitally showcased at the international exhibition Venice Biennale 2019.
“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH ROUVEN KURZ
TPL: Rouven, when did you start getting interested in photography?
RK: By accident, I won a digital compact camera with an astonishing five point one megapixels when I was a teenager back in the early 2000’s. After literally annoying everyone around me I developed a knack for framing geometries.
TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?
RK: In my notebooks, where I collect everything that comes along my way. Being it interesting spots I’ve seen, pictures I love, thoughts that would fly away too fast, news that move me, movies with remarkable cinematography, snippets of discussions. My key is to groom this list over and over to refine ideas, strike items from that list, find connections between separate things.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?
RK: Saul Leiter for his almost painterly use of colors. Paola Franqui (Monaris) for her storytelling and superb color grading. Brandon Stanton for his impressive portrait of New York's folk. Sean Tucker for his inspiring content beyond ace photography. Alan Schaller for his bold minimalism.
TPL: Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
RK: Among others I can recall two major changes compared to my first thousand-something pictures. The first one is more a process where I get better and better to visualize the final image before I click the shutter. The second change was enforced by me in order to get the pictures I want. It was becoming less anxious to get closer to strangers in the streets.
TPL: Where is your favourite place to photograph?
RK: My home turf Cologne in Germany.
TPL: Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?
RK: Equipment is a tool that helps you get there. While this sounds incidental, the right equipment is of great importance for me. The more natural it feels in your hands, the more you can focus on what’s in your mind and in front of your lens. My tip for starters is to spend more budget on photo books, prints, exhibitions and workshops than on the camera. If you engage deeply in photography and develop your own vision and train your photographic muscle, you will find the right equipment eventually. The tools will help you realize your vision, they will not create your vision.
TPL: What characteristics do you think you need to become a good photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?
RK: Curiosity, if I have to name one.
When doing portraits you should work more with your model than with your camera. What makes this person special? What do you and your model want to portrait?
In street photography you should curious about the people and your surroundings. The street always delivers. It’s up to your mind what you’re going to discover.
TPL: Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
RK: Nay, I’m pretty untalented in other art forms.
TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
RK: I am still so excited about the birthday present my wife gave me. She has organized a gallery that will exhibit my work this summer.