Talking Photographs with Chris Leskovsek

September 19, 2014 - photo frame


All Images Copyright, Chris Leskovsek

Travel photography can be difficult. It’s tough to take photos in a unfamiliar land and not have them demeanour like each other traveller print of that time and place. This is harder, nonetheless again, when one uses a compress camera – a pattern appurtenance – like a Ricoh GR. Yet, Chris Leskovsek, a 32-year-old Chilean-born photographer and designer, now vital and operative in Auckland, New Zealand, has achieved this exquisitely. These photographs are many positively transport photos, taken by a immigrant in a unfamiliar land, nonetheless they are also not merely transport photographs. That is, they are not elementary pledge snapshots. Yet, this is not utterly a documentary plan either. “The Golden Land” is a array of photographs that seem to overpass a opening between transport snapshots and documentary photography, and they do it unequivocally well.

Michael Ernest Sweet: Chris, in some ways, this plan reminds me of Daido Moriyama’s tour to Tono. The dim contrasty images of a ‘unfamiliar’ nonetheless somehow loved; that is, nonetheless a imagery is dark, your adore and care for a theme matter translates well. Was Burma totally random, or was there something there that was indeed job you?

Chris Leskovsek: Well, interjection for such a comparison, as we deeply admire Moriyama’s work and proceed to photography. Like we said, a photos competence demeanour dark, nonetheless we do have clever feelings for a moments we was observant there. Burma was random, in a sense, we went nonetheless any expectations; no plans. we unequivocally wanted to go and get lost, and literally let bland encounters beam me through. Why Burma? It’s unequivocally uncertain, nonetheless I’ve always been meddlesome in places we know unequivocally tiny about, or that there is tiny information about.


MES: How prolonged where we there for this project?

CL: Almost 4 weeks.

MES: Although we have never been to Burma, we clarity that it is easy to sketch there. Am we right? How do a people dispute when they see we (an outsider) with your camera?

CL: we cruise it’s always “easy” to fire in any place we have never been before. Everything is new, and all interests you. Most people in Burma, generally in a cities, are unequivocally extraordinary of any alien (Westerner) that competence go into a city. Even some-more when that alien wants to transport a slight alleyways perplexing to get into a “real” bland Burmese lifestyle. With that said, it was roughly unfit to play “invisible” (not that we was trying) as they were some-more wakeful of me than we was of them.

People would mostly proceed me, roughly everyday, and ask to take my photo. So, unexpected we became a subject. Still, Burmese people have to work so tough and a cities are so packaged that they don’t mind a camera in a crowd. What is unequivocally tough is to know their enlightenment and gestures, and not be unpleasant with them during any given impulse – to be clever to sketch a right things.


MES: When we demeanour for someone to interview, we demeanour during several elements within a person’s work. The preference routine is customarily surrounded by an affinity for a photographs – that is, if we like a work, we wish to speak a person. Sometimes, however, we am encouraged by a doubt a work poses. we speak since we wish to know a answer to something. With we it was both. we do adore this work, from a visible perspective, nonetheless unequivocally we wanted to speak we to plead a “exotic” component within transport photography. Your photographs from this array are good compositions, your trust of a visible is obvious. However, we can't assistance nonetheless cruise that your trust of a use of a “exotic” to pull in a spectator is also acutely developed. So, firstly, were we wakeful of a outlandish component when we were photographing? Did we find it out?

CL: Thanks for your kind words, Michael, but, a “exotic” component that we discuss is something we didn’t indispensably cruise of. To be honest, when we go to these kind of places, we trust a “exotic” is hereditary for us westerners, we know it is for me.

I would distortion to we if we pronounced we was wakeful of all we was doing while walking by streets, markets, landscapes, roads, etc in 42 degrees Celsius continue with 90% humidity. When we shoot, we concentration on what is in front of me. But when we edit, we combine on what we wish to contend or tell, and many of a time it ends adult being conflicting from what we suspicion it would be. we cruise we can contend that sharpened for me is an discerning process, nonetheless modifying is a unequivocally unwavering one.


MES: How do we feel about this judgment in a some-more ubiquitous way? For example, I’m not a good fan of HDR photography – during smallest a rarely processed HDR stuff. we feel a pattern would tumble prosaic many times if it were not for a gimmick of a HDR. In this way, do we feel that photographing a male carrying a vast pouch over his conduct is somehow holding advantage of a Western viewer’s originality with this stage (given that we don’t see it on a possess streets)?

CL: Well, absolutely, I’m a westerner and we went to Burma to see and knowledge what we haven’t seen or gifted before. So yes, when we saw a aged male walking with a large sack, we shot it, since it is something that we haven’t seen before. For us Westerners it is unequivocally tough to suppose an aged male (say in his 70s or 80s, maybe more) so active, carrying a pouch that competence even import some-more than he does; never mind a swarming highway or his flip-flops. That to me says a lot about how they live their life. Is it healthier? Maybe. Economically poorer? we don’t unequivocally know. we was looking for these kind of questions, nonetheless not indispensably a answers. we wanted to learn and declare this existence so conflicting to mine. Perhaps we meant it as a critique to us, Western society, some-more so than holding advantage of an aged man.

MES: Suppose we were to take a sketch of a lady carrying cosmetic selling bags here in New York and published a pattern in a lowest under-developed city we could find. we cruise a pattern would have a lot some-more visible pull to that unfamiliar audience. Where here, in a West, a lady with a selling bag is roughly always a tedious and pledge transport photo. I’m contemptible for a miss of a accurate doubt here, nonetheless can we pronounce to this a little?

CL: we see where we are going with a question, Michael. Is engaging how we feel that a same theme in a conflicting context can change it’s notice so much. Perhaps it is indeed like that and maybe we shot it since of that. Because an aged lady in Western societies wouldn’t lift a pouch that large other than a selling bag. Whereas in Burma, a aged male competence presumably be carrying his life on his shoulders. Also, a dual immature group walking in conflicting directions to a aged male carrying that outrageous pouch was normal to them, since in a society, we would run to assistance a comparison chairman to lift their bags. Perceptions. Questions. we unequivocally don’t know a answers.


MES: By a way, we adore your work, Chris. we am in no approach suggesting that it is merely sensational. we usually wanted to collect your mind a bit on this concept. Woody Allen, in Midnight in Paris, suggests that a viewers originality with something, total with their imagination, can furnish a absolute nonetheless fake affection. we consternation how my stupidity of Burma, total with my imagination for a exotic, impacts my observation of this work. It’s an engaging concept. Then again, we all pierce ourselves to anything visual, that is, prophesy is biased during all times on some level. Do we cruise we am being too philosophical here, or is there something to my rambling?

CL: When we was researching about Burma, a usually thing we would find is sunsets and landscapes, and if we unequivocally looked deeper, we found some documentary photographers that have shot a domestic problems, and even a drug and animal trafficking nearby a borders. But what about a unchanging people, a ones that keep a nation and enlightenment going, nonetheless don’t make it on a news or don’t attract a traveller and his lens? There was something there we wanted to see and explore.

MES: Shifting gears a little, I’d like to ask about a few of these photographs some-more specifically. For example, a one with a male station in a train doorway. This is a good image. It possesses many iconic elements – a 3 people in a windows retaining a support (one looking directly into your lens), a window of your automobile providing a healthy support for a sketch and, finally, a somewhat altogether pattern feeling of a image. It all combines good both visually and graphically. How do we feel about this image? we feel it is one of a best from this series, are we astounded by that comment?


CL: One of a things that unequivocally held my courtesy shortly after walking a streets of Yangon, was that open buses were accurately a same as a ones we had in Chile in a 80s and early 90s, nonetheless also how swarming they were. People would be unresolved out a doors, and many of a time, a buses wouldn’t have windows – usually frames with handles. Their notice of confidence is positively conflicting than ours. we was unequivocally captivated to them. Perhaps we picked this one since it gave me a pacific feeling within such a pell-mell environment.

Now, is this print is one of a best, we unequivocally don’t know. we know we like it, and that’s since we published it, nonetheless yes, we are a initial one articulate to me about this one.

As for a pattern feel to it, we cruise it’s great. Some photographers feel roughly “insulted” when we contend that word subsequent to their work. we don’t, in fact a judgment unequivocally appeals to me. The ‘snapshot’ has something that other forms of photos (I don’t even know what they are called, a ‘other’ form of photos) don’t. To me it feels closer to a viewer, it feels spontaneous, it is real, it is raw. It competence be lax sometimes, nonetheless it’s honest. we like imperfections in photography.

MES: we determine completely. I’m a pattern photographer. My stream plan is being finished wholly with disposable cameras and we adore a feeling of a work I’m getting. we also adore that feeling in your work generally, and in this pattern specifically. Another favorite is a Monk smoking a cigarette. What a absolute photograph. In one elementary pattern we have blown divided a Western classify of a Buddhist monk. And it’s not usually a cigarette, it’s also a demeanour in his eyes – a slightest, roughly inaudible grin. With this one pattern you’ve done a Buddhist priest – roughly a mimic to many Western people – into a genuine person, a male with a cigarette. In a clarity we unmasked a mysticism. Can we tell us a tiny about this photograph, this man?


CL: In Burma it is unequivocally common to see monks walking down a streets. Then we satisfied that younger monks were personification with smartphones and even some comparison ones had imagination cameras. ‘How could this be possible?’ we wondered. After a integrate of weeks we met an ex-English teacher, late Buddhist Monk and stream Buddhist teacher. He approached me usually to talk. After a few hours of talking, we asked about a immature monks with cellphones and print cameras, he looked during me and said, “Every male needs to do nunnery life via their life. Usually when they are teenagers. Monastery life involves a lot of imagining and training about life, many families send their children to monasteries for schooling, as they can't means other methods. But, some younger monks feel pressured to be partial of this life and they usually do it since their families tell them to.”

On a other hand, Burma is confronting “Westernization” and it has changed into a nation rather fast in a past few years. One of a initial things we see in terms of this is a dungeon phones. Even nonetheless internet use is roughly self-existent (by any western standard) and tranquil by a government, dungeon phones give them a amicable status. When we asked a clergyman where they get a money, he said, he said: “That’s a problem, Monks don’t get paid for being monks, nonetheless people present their tough warranted income to a monasteries.” -He said- “for reasons such as this, is that comparison monks, like myself, don’t unequivocally cruise this younger era of monks to be authentic or ‘real’ monks'”. Intrigued by this, we wanted an pattern that could uncover this somehow.

So, after observant immature monks celebration Red Bull, articulate on cellphones, and regulating ray bans (pretty normal western stuff), we took a cab behind to a hotel and asked a motorist if he could take me to a internal grill and not a traveller spot. He concluded and gathering me to this unequivocally unsafe open atmosphere kitchen with a tent on a dry farming road. While eating, this priest comes in and was seeking for donations (money or food). He went to a assistant lady and asked for cigarettes. He lights a initial one and approaches my table, pulls out a notepad from underneath his arm and flips to a page that had a tiny English note seeking for donations. we replied observant we would give him a concession if he would concede me to take his picture. He agreed. (all of this with pointer language, we didn’t sell any words). we grabbed my camera and took one or dual shots. Then he puffs a cigarette and we click again, he pulls a cigarette out of his mouth again and we contend that it doesn’t matter if he smokes, so he inhales, exhales, and pulls a cigarette out, click!. That was it; it was a comfortable and accessible exchange.

Then, we satisfied that he also had a ‘brand new’ cosmetic plaque on his eyeglasses as well. They leave it on, again as a standing symbol.

I chose this shot instead since a pattern of a cigarette is unequivocally conflicting than a cellphone, nonetheless a cigarette somehow helps mislay that covering of, as we say, “mysticism”, that us Westerners plan onto monks. They are humans, with as paltry of desires as everybody else. Sadly, this tiny fact has brought a lot of dispute within their society.

MES: Tell us about this pattern of a tiny child in a window. we also like this one unequivocally much. Again, it invokes a Moriyama feeling – a dim contrast, a wires, a roughly ominous feeling of a strangled curtain. It’s a good photograph, what’s a story?


CL: A few blocks from my hotel, they would do a “night market”, that means that they tighten some unequivocally slight streets for transport vendors to sell their vegetables and tender meat. we was walking by this unequivocally slight transport (wouldn’t fit no some-more than a automobile in one direction) surrounded by unequivocally high swarming buildings. As we walked by these tiny slight streets with crowds of people flitting me, we stopped and looked up. we saw a dull window. we pulled a camera up, when we did, a child shows up, afterwards a second one, many expected his brother. The initial one leaves, nonetheless we keep shooting. He eventually adopts this pondering pose, as he was considering this loud stream of people down below. we click, he afterwards sees me, smiles, and leaves. we pierce on. we have learnt that each now and then, it is always good to demeanour back, there’s a conflicting universe behind we – always.

MES: Chris, what apparatus were we regulating for this project? Some images feel like they could have been shot with a good compress (MJU II) and others feel like a Leica with a far-reaching lens 21mm etc. we also clarity digital when we demeanour during some images and film with others. we unequivocally can't suppose what we were using.

CL: Well, we used a elementary Ricoh GR, and a Sony A7 with a Leica 35mm ‘lux and a zeiss 55mm.


MES: we adore a Ricoh series. My book, The Human Fragment (Brooklyn Arts Press), was shot wholly with a Ricoh GR Digital IV – totally overwhelming camera. When did we initial collect adult a camera? How did we turn a “photographer”?

CL: My father bought a initial digital camera, we cruise behind in 98 or 99. we was hooked. After that we started pattern and photography was always some-more of a messenger to my pattern work. Then, before entrance to New Zealand, we was already experimenting some-more severely with film and sharpened some-more and more. My “a-ha” impulse came after we landed in NZ behind in 2011. Everything was new, different, also some things went green on my initial year, and we found myself picking adult my camera as an shun to what we wanted to do and say. For a final dual or 3 years, I’ve been sharpened and erratic endlessly.

MES: we can totally relate. What’s next?

CL: I’ve been focusing all my energies sharpened and edition my work. It’s tough in a tiny nation like NZ, so we started self-publishing a plan called Øbservations, so distant we have published 5 books. This array will finish with array 6 after in Nov of this year along with my initial solo muster about it, here in Auckland.

The reason I’m finishing a array is since I’m self edition (meaning I’m appropriation everything, and supports are always singular when we don’t have support) and we need that income to pierce onto other projects. we unequivocally wish we could tell “The Golden Land”. We will see what a destiny brings.

Also in December, I’ll be streamer down to South Island, here in New Zealand, to fire another plan that will be a print book with music.

MES: Self-publishing is apropos unequivocally reputable in a photography world. we cruise there are so many opportunities there now that were not accessible even a few years ago. In fact, we wish to self-publish. I’m apropos undone with a normal edition routine and a drawn out timetables for removing a book to market. we mean, carrying a Steidl book will always be “something else”, nonetheless in terms of tiny press or self-publishing – it’s unequivocally a toss-up.

CL: If we haven’t self-publish anything yet, I’d say, do it, usually go for it. Do one duplicate for we and go from there. Obviously we already have a knowledge of edition a ‘formal’ book so we already know a process. In my case, a knowledge of self-publishing have been unequivocally rewarding, not since I’ve sole a few books, nonetheless since I’ve done lots of mistakes to learn from and I’ve met overwhelming people in a process. Besides, to me, there’s zero like a smell of printed paper while flicking by a pages (perhaps that is where my striking and art credentials shows up). Printed is where we see photography come to life, and not usually on paper, nonetheless on T-shirts, or screen-printed, etc.


MES: Chris, conclude we pleasantly for your time and for pity these smashing transport photos. This work unequivocally is moving and we demeanour brazen to observant some-more from you.

CL: Thank we Michael, once again, for a event and for featuring my work. This means a lot to me and we unequivocally conclude it. I’m looking brazen in pity destiny projects!

You can check out some-more of Chris’ work on his website or on Instagram.

Want to have your photography featured here? Tweet me your best things @28mmphotos or hit me by my website.

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