Well, maybe you are the next Ansel Adams or Annie Liebovitz, but it’s going to be a heck of a lot easier to make your art pay if you have a PR person and a gallery that that can deliver 200 people to your opening exhibit. Keep reading for more from Lukas Strebe…lfrom the land of great cheese, chocolate and…art photographers!
Hometown: Mägenwil, Switzerland
Current Residence: London UK
Areas of Focus: Drama / Commercials
Natasha Hoare, a young London based curator, knew some of my work and approached me about one and a half years ago with the hope of persuading me to show my early work again to the public. It needed quite some pushing since I haven’t thought about it and was very busy working on film projects at the time. Still the idea started to tickle my fancy and I agreed to take time off last summer and to revisit that important part of my life again.
Was there apprehension about exhibiting your work so long after these photos were taken?
In the beginning, yes, but it soon turned into a very exciting process since a lot of people showed huge interest and support in the make of the exhibition. Especially young ones, which is always nice to be appreciated from a generation who may have been unaware of my work and now they are interested it is amazing.
Your exhibition welcomed over two hundred people on opening night. What would you say is the main factor in your success with a contemporary audience?
I think it has to do with the work of Natasha Hore who did a tremendous PR job and Theprintspace gallery and their east London location. Without these two parties working as hard as they did the whole exhibit would not of been so much of a success.
In the 70’s you travelled around Europe with a table as if it were an animal or a pet. What was your inspiration?
I think the table lent itself to what I ‘used’ it – a small portable stage. An object d’art on its own. There were many other objects that I collected and played part in my photography. I also took along a broomstick and carried it in a instrument case which looking back seems slightly odd and I imagine, it was quite amusing going through customs.
I had two sets of horns in different sizes that I would screw on to it and have bullfights with it. At one point, I lost one of its legs: somebody stole it in a pub for fun, and I had to remake it. It was a surreal altar and I called it Antoglyph. Don’t ask me why: it just came to me. This picture is entitled Meus Volatus Magicus Supra Antoglyphum, or My Magic Flight Over the Antoglyph.
You travelled to Spain to try and get a shoot with the legendary surrealist Salvador Dali. How did this come about and what happened?
During the 1970’s I travelled to Spain to meet and photograph Salvador Dali. I took with him ‘Antoglyph’, the kitchen table, and tried to get a session with Dali. I was at first refused entrance so I gave Dali’s maid a copy of the photograph ‘meus volatus magicus supra Antoglyphum’ and asked her to appeal once more. Dali must have been impressed with my work as on the strength of this image I was granted entrance. Cruelly, the day on the appointed shoot day I was called back to Switzerland for national service and never got to shoot with him.
The Guardian newspaper, in their best-shot segment, very recently highlighted “Meus Volatus Magicus Supra Antoglyphum”. It is a magnificent shot! What is the story and meaning behind the photograph?
It was the summer of 1971 and my girlfriend and I were at the Tuscan beach resort of Forte dei Marmi. At the time, many of my contemporaries were very political, but I was somewhat detached and just followed my own instincts. Witchcraft fascinated me, and I wanted to get a picture of myself flying over the table in the sea.
I set up my camera on a tripod, took the table out into the water and climbed on. Then I jumped up while my girlfriend pressed the button. We had just one roll of film: in those days, you couldn’t check you had got the shot, so I only found out when I returned to my darkroom two weeks later.
You are currently working as a cinematographer and were recognized at the 2009 Emmy Awards for your work on the mini series “Little Dorrit”. Do you believe your photography work prepared you for cinematography?
Indeed! In fact that I actually wanted to work directly in film from an early age, but due to the reality being there wasn’t any film schools in Switzerland I strayed. Therefore I choose the way through photography and got stuck with it until my late twenties. Only then, driven by desperation I stopped Photography and started working myself up in the film industry. The rest is history…
What was it like working on “Little Dorrit”? And how did this opportunity come around? Did you ever think it would be received as enthusiastically as it was?
It was a hard job like any other one – little time, little money but big ambitions! I am generally not a great fan of British costume dramas, but Dickens feels so contemporary. No I didn’t expect such a success in the USA. They love bonnets over there…
Have you got any more photography or film projects coming up?
There are quite a few drama projects on the horizon. At the same time I would love to start on a new series of photographs. Where I will find the time and money for that project I don’t know yet…. Life in the 70th could be cheap and free!
What would you say is the best way to get into the film and photography industry?
This is a tricky one since the time and the media is changing so fast.
Just do it! There is no excuse anymore not to have access to equipment to make your own short. Iphone, Final Cut Pro, Photoshop etc. Ask your friends to act in your stories, or model in your photographs. You will be surprised in 30 years how special these characters (who surround you now) are. You need a lot of stamina and patience. Never stop asking people for favours. Even if they have to take there clothes off in the cold again and again – as it happened in my case too often…
If you are lucky you might even end up in a great film or photography course, where you might get to meet your future collaborators. A bit of luck always helps. And being at the right place in the right moment as well. In my case I was and still am driven by the fact to be involved in the process of story telling. I feel very privileged to even make a living of it and having been able to support a family!
What would you say is the best way to get your work shown in a gallery?
Show the work around. It’s so much easier now then it was in the 70′s. Now you have access to huge platforms on the Internet where you find exposure. No more sending whole editions of mounted photographs around the world for dear money. I must have lost 100 original prints that way.