October 2, 2010 in Essay

Simplicity and The Adventure of Being a Photographer

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The older I get the more I appreciate simplicity, not only in art, but also in life.

Life is so complicated. There are so many stimuli confusing me. I couldn’t get them filtered most of the time.

The good news about aging: You don’t need to filter!

Modern life is so stressful: All these noises, impressions, faces and adds…

Stress is the reason why I prefer shopping in small shops or online far away from these big chaotic Shopping Malls.

Lot of space for visions and emotions: Cutting the strings in a sea of sadness

In my early days life was different. I couldn’t get enough of chaos and anarchy. As a time of orientating, I guess this is normal and ubiquitous. Young people have to see what life is all about and than choose what is important for themselves in life. We all have to learn:

Life is about omitting the unnecessary.

Maybe this is one secret for a successful journey to “Pure Beauty” and the “Meaning of Life”.

One of my favorite singer, Kari Bremnes, once said during a concert:

“When you are walking through the Norwegian Fjell for a while, you can hear your own heartbeat sometime. Then you will have the feeling of self-discovery.”

Everybody who walked through the seclusion knows what Kari Bremnes means. Lucky they are – Norwegians have lots of space to hear their hearts beating.

I think the first time I become aware of the meaning of simplicity in art was when I discovered Susanne Vega and her song „Tom’s Diner“.

No instruments, so little melody, you can hardly call it music. Simple sentences, stringed together, for a strong emotion. A Déjà-vu for all the voyeurs in the world. Today I still got the same feeling I had when I was young. That’s a great piece of art.

Today I am a keen simplicity hunter. My latest booty:

Vincent Munier

A fabulous photographer who is the master of omitting the unnecessary. Where other photographers are discussing about stopping down in snowy conditions he takes the photo.

Marla Hansen

A female singer who published an album with only 6 songs. I am so delighted about every song and lucky not to skip the unwanted album fills. She used the perfect amount of instruments to build up a strong emotional universe around her voice.

My personal freelance work

As everybody knows : Photography is about simplicity and relations. I love photos that have only 3 or 4 objects that have a relationship. These conditions are producing the same magic like Japanese Haiku.

If you haven’t discovered Japanese Haiku I recommend you to do so. Take a start with Matsuo Basho.

Haiku are great poems of simple structure. They are mostly about something in nature. For me they have a strong relationship to my landscape art.

What a pity I couldn’t understand Japanese. If you are living in Germany and being confronted with the synchronization of English Language in films and books you have a feeling what translations could mean for not reading Haiku in Japanese.

A lucky guy I am. The language of photography is international. I am working for a world wide audience and there are no comprehension difficulties.

At the moment I am thinking a lot of about my personal freelance work. I am experimenting. It is like there is time for something new. I often observe myself taking different photos than the years before.

Maybe my next step is to get rid of color and work in B&W. Who knows…

As you can see, being a photographer is not only about pulling the trigger at the right moment.

The Adventure of Being a Photographer is about thinking, being aware of what is important and omitting the unnecessary. Photography is not about words or noise. It is a journey to ourselves, a silent adventure.

And now I am curious: Please share your thoughts about this article with us…


  1. October 3, 2010 at 08:54



    Hi Olaf,

    Thanks for an very interesting post, which I think reflex very deep thoughts on the “who am I, as a photographer – and where do I want to go with it”.

    Reading your blogpost, I can truly say I’ve been hit by the same considerations, and for me it meant, that I had to leave photography for 20 years…

    Now I am back into photography once again – but this time as an amateur only. Clear minded with what I want, and where I want to take it.

    PS: Love your “Cutting the strings in a sea of sadness”.

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