Interview with Documentary photographer Jack Ronnel

Interview with Documentary photographer Jack Ronnel


– How and when did you become interested in photography?

Photography for me started more than 40 years ago, as a teenager, with a Canonet rangefinder. Soon after I started using the rangefinder, I accidently dropped the camera and the light-meter was damaged. I had no choice but to better understand light and exposure and manage without a meter. I believe that this made me a more perceptive photographer. I shoot: to be creative, to discover, to express myself, to make an impact. Through photography I can find a way to communicate to the viewer a story, an experience, a deeper look into the subject of a portrait.

– Is there any artist/photographer who inspired your art?

There are many artists that inspire me: architects such as Foster, Gehry, Calatrava; composers such as Bach, Bruckner and Mahler; painters such as Monet, Modigliani, and Klimt. Such artists are able to communicate their passion and create grand works that convey emotions and drama.
I am very much inspired by several masters of Documentary and Portrait photography, such as Yousuf Karsh, Elliott Erwitt, Richard Avedon, Jane Bown. In addition, photographers such as Sebastiao Salgado and Anton Corbijn influenced me and drove me towards the special Tri-X 400 film look

– Why do you work in black and white rather than color?

For a short period, I did both color and b&w but soon realized that I prefer the power and simplicity of b&w. Black and White and the specific style that I embraced, consisting of a timeless b&w Tri-X 400 film look, is very suitable to Documentary photography and Portraits.

– How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph/series of photographs?

For my scheduled and assigned portrait sessions, I follow the simplistic and practical approach of the British Photographer Jane Bown, namely, working exclusively in black-and-white, using only natural light, on location, without professional assistants, with minimal equipment and setting as few barriers as possible between me and the subject. A typical session lasts between half-an-hour to one hour. I set the photo session at the workplace or residence of the subject, I look for a suitable spot, preferably with a good source of natural daylight. I am a good listener. I am studying the profile of the subjects before the session and I engage them in conversations. This helps them to loosen up. Ideally, within a short time, the subject will stop noticing the camera. I never ask the subject to pose, as the candid and natural expression will vanish and the moment will be gone. Eventually, during the conversation or when the subject is lost in thought, the special moment will happen and I will be ready to capture it. The character of the portrait lies in the expression and the textures of the face, in the eyes of the subject and the light hitting the face. We can’t always choose our portrait subjects. Not everyone is photogenic, has an interesting look, or has a face with character. This is a challenge that compels me to work harder, to find an interesting angle, a peculiar look, a curious expression, an unusual framing.

I use a Leica M 240 Rangefinder with 35mm Leica lenses and 50mm Zeiss and Voigtlander Nokton f1.1 and lately I mostly use my Leica SL with the 24-90mm Leica SL lens. From time to time I use my Mamiya Pro 645 TL. For digital processing, I first use Lightroom and then develop in b&w using NIK SFX-Pro. I print in B&W with the Epson Pro 3880 using Museum grade Matt Rag paper from Hahnemuhle

– Where is your photography going? What projects would you like to accomplish?

For practical and commercial reasons, I need to continue working on photo assignments provided to me by Interior Designers, Architects, Publications, etc. However, I always make time for my own Documentary projects. I self-published several photo-books, in a small and experimental scale. I am now working on a more significant photo-book project, covering my Documentary work. Recognition is very important for an artist. I am collaborating with several galleries in Europe but not in a significant manner. That is one area that I would like to strengthen in the near future.

Website: www.jackronnel.com

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel - Jerusalem: A city of great complexity

© Jack Ronnel – Jerusalem: A city of great complexity


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