Josef Koudelka

 France, 1976. © Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

France, 1976. © Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos

Putting aside subject matter for a moment in terms of my research practise, I have recently found a book of some of the most beautiful and some of my favourite photographs I have ever seen. I am fascinated by his use of light and dark in everything from his still images (above) to the portraits like the example below. Seeing his work has given me a very different perspective on how to use light in my photography.   I have for some time had a fascination with the harsh appearance of flash as taken from one of many traits of the family album photograph. I have tried and tested many different techniques both through my own work and that of other photographers whilst as an assistant. Koudelka's portraits are simple yet beautiful. The window light hitting the side of the mans face in this image below for me shows that there is a timeless beauty in natural light. 

Interestingly enough, I first looked at this books after listening to John Spinks talk at the symposium where he showed one of the images in his presentation. I was blown away by it and can see stylistic resemblances between that of Koudelka and Spinks in their use of the window light in portraits. 

 7. Romania, 1968 - Josef Koudleka

7. Romania, 1968 - Josef Koudleka

Bernard Cuau titles his introduction to the book Josef Koudelka Photo Poche, "A Book of Questions". 

His photographs often depicting sadness and death, yet always leaving a question unanswered.

"He shows the presence of time and things... He is one of the very few photographers who are so respectful that they can drive out fear." (Cuau, 1988)

Whilst spending a great deal of time looking through this book one of the questions Cuau suggests this work is about stayed with me, and is something I think I will be subconsciously dealing with in my own practise based on memory.

"What good are memories, when everything disappears? " 
 14. Czechoslavakia, 1966 Josej Koudelka

14. Czechoslavakia, 1966 Josej Koudelka

 

Bibliography

Koudelka, J. and Cuau, B. (1988). Josef Koudelka. Paris: Centre National de la Photographie.