When I photograph, particularly in Asia, I want to underline the basic ordinariness of life. I believe that is where magical aspects arise from – and disappear. I do not like to look at the “other” as something strange and exotic, but rather deeply familiar. The same drive motivates me when getting to know another country and its customs – I want to know more and more until the sense of bewildering strangeness disappears in favour of a familiar strangeness. I believe that the world and all ordinary things in it are fundamentally strange and need only a little nudge in order to appear magical, beautiful, frightening, surreal, divine…you name it.
I have very little patience with obviously staged photography and I do not like to ask people to pose for me. The camera and the photographer are not important enough to warrant extraordinary behavior. People need to be saved from the desire to want to seem extraordinary. We, all of us, might be extraordinary during many moments of our lives, but standing in front of a camera is not one of those moments nor should it be. It’s much better to forget self-consciousness and the unmoving black eye of the lens and do perfectly ordinary things.
Do not manipulate but simply perceive. If there are rules to photography then this is mine. A person from a different country, of a different colour, a different sex or from different circumstances is essentially me – I can only shoot portraits if I believe that. Finding familiarity and sympathy in any circumstance is essential to understanding and perceiving – and the camera is a tool to help me do just that.