且行且摄I Photograph as I go
-Famous Australian Photographer Hugh Brown Interview
-记者 沈珞Reporter Luo Shen
Reporter: What made you quit your job and engage in documentary photography? Is it because of the conflict between your work and the need of concentration for your passion?
Hugh: After I graduated from college I worked in the world's largest mining company as a management consultant, I got really tired of it, but the job so taught me ways to solve problems.
But initially it was difficult to choose, because passion sometimes slips away when you are pursuing the things you once love, but fortunately not photography. Even if you do not say I love photography itself, I love the world it brings me into – the life I experienced, the adventures, people I met, they make me feel rich.
But photography is like any other works, needs you to work hard. The simple things that most people can do become the most difficult tribulation. Only when you take it seriously, you can do better.
Reporter: Now, there is a view, if photography wants to be appealing and advocacy, you must first deter, This deter are often provocative, what do you think?
Hugh: deter only is a tool of photography, I hope that my photographs are amazing and not shcking, to attract the audience, so that they feel my picture is very interesting, and found the sincerity. Now that we have taken too much immersed in our own world and forget the needs around the world and others. I believe that sensationalism can be very simple, but to convey honesty and integrity is important.
Reporter: How do you grasp the business, art and reality in photography? How the three sort?
Hugh: I prefer to choose my own theme and do it, and then try to solve sales and marketing efforts. If you really love what you do well and find a viable way. The challenge is to adopt my way sometimes it make your life difficult, but also its a challenge for you,to come up with better solutions and make a final product that is beyond the imagination.
Reporter: For the theme documentary photography, often you need to constantly observe and track record repeatedly for one theme, how do you continue to maintain this repetition of passion?
Hugh: documentary photography often has to wait for your photographic object to be bored of you and feel you do not exist anymore, only then you can work unimpeded. I have a mate told me that when you are fishing you need to know when to stay and wait, what time to get up to catch fish. Documentary photography is like fishing.
Not just documentary photography, many shoots are challenging too, so I am always passionate. The longest time I shoot a shot, I waited more than 30 days, I was almost not sure anything would come up.
Reporter: The shoot about Fenghua scavengers apartment, before you went, was your imagination any different than the reality? Shoot the old lady, what is your consideration?
Hugh: I would say the government has done a good job here, and the scavengers apartment improves the lives of more than 500 people, offers a higher standard accommodation. I do not remember the other countries I have been to such a situation. Why do I shoot that old lady especially the close-up to her face, is because her face tells a lot of stories. (This interview is greatly supported by Mr Hanpei Sheng, Mr. Yu Xuhui's.)
Hugh Brown, Australian professional photographer, has long been engaged in documentary photography, using camera to capture the disappearing world. In 2006, he started to photograph miners around the world, he went to Indonesian volcano to shoot manual extraction of sulfur, to India to shoot some hand miners, in the Pilbara and Kimberley region of Australia he has been taking photos for 16-years, and shoot survival adventure documentary. This year April 25 to May 4, Hugh • Brown held "Aspect of a shrinking world" photo exhibition in Ningbo, after that he was in Ningbo (including Fenghua), Qingdao, Shanghai and other places to shoot.
Reporter: You said had been captured "Aspect of the disappearing world", but in a foreign country how do you know what life is about to slip away? How to determine if the ordinary individuals in your eyes are separated from the whole, is truly living a lifestyle that is disappearing?
Hugh: two aspects to this issue. One is my client asked me to shoot the specified topic, usually repeated theme, the challenge is to find different angles. For example, mining is hard shot, because basically a mine is a mine, it is usually gray or red, sometimes white, gear looks alike. I try to work at night, sometimes all night, so I can control the light, although tiring and difficult, but worth it.
On the other hand, if I choose the topic, I have seen a lot of interesting things in the world, it gives me sharp eyes, I believe that if things make me impressed immediately, it is certainly good. I like to shoot close-ups for sixty and seventy years old elderly, their faces always tell stories. I do not think the individual and overall are necessarily relevant, instinctively, I chose the topic as a single whole that are unusual and will soon not exist anymore.
Reporter: China's has reformed and opened up for more than 30 years, accelerated urbanization these years, dramatic changes in society, which provides a huge space for documentary photography, at this period of time, what your main subject is in Ningbo, Qingdao and other places?
Hugh: I have more interests in the lower end of the industrial chain, especially after I've taken a lot of photos in Western Australia's Pilbara iron and steel factories after shut down. I am very grateful to the people here that gave me enough trust to allow me to see what in these industries is like in the other side of the.
I am also very interested in the workers here, because there are some wonderful stories about China's rapid development to tell. Western countries know very little about China, we need to know in the risen and developed city how people live. Everyone I meet here told me to development of the city make their life better, those are what the Western countries need to better understand.
Reporter: The biggest difficulty about documentary photography is not "how to shoot", but "shoot what", what do you want to tell the reader through Photography,?
Hugh: Photography is different with writing, though there are both delivering information. Before going to the field I do as much research as possible, read more to know more about the theme, understand the uniqueness and research work of others.
I like to use a short descriptive title for my photos, I do not let the audience take away stereotypes story. The viewers take the stories from the photos through how its shot and what it contains. Early on, when I could not describe the subjects I took or when I couldn't make a viewpoint on them, I felt very uncomfortable, but as I grew up, I think it turned out to be an advantage. The audience will form their own views, I can not and should not try to control their opinions.
An example is I have been taking photos of (India, West Africa countries) artisanal mining workers , it have reached a certain stage. Through work, perhaps it makes policy makers face the challenge of protecting and balancing the good and eliminate the bad elements of the phenomenon, but also to make the ungrateful and lazy peoplein the developed countries to get inspirational alert.
Reporter: Can you share with the readers about the most impressive thing you have ever seen since you engaged in documentary?
Hugh: In the sulfur processing plant in Indonesia, where the camp is only 300meters away from the rim of the live volcano. Those workers walk about 1 km to go up to take the sulfur on the rim of the volcano, then holding more than 100 kilograms of ore to walk three kilometers downthe crevices of rugged volcanic rock, and sometimes their feet were burned terribly. Because of the long-term work in the rim of a live volcano, the sulfur erupted in the air corroded their teeth yellow and black. In such an environment, people are so insignificant. Volcano may erupt at any time and bury all people, but the momentscaptured there are so beautiful.
In India last year, I saw some very poor places, four-year-old children all over the road. That morning, I first saw a seemingly dead child hanging on the arm of a man, there are twenty people looking at them. 10 meters away, in the middle of the road lay a dead child, at first glance it was like a rag doll. But, with the passing of life we an not do anything. My driver hit his own head with his own hand, we were very silent in the car.