December 24th 2012 by Andrew S Gibson
This article is part of a series of interviews with long exposure photographers to celebrate the release of my ebook Slow. You can keep track of the interviews by clicking on the Long Exposure Photography Interviews link under Categories in the right-hand sidebar.
Hengki Koentjoro is an Indonesian photographer. He is a resident of Jakarta and studied photography at the Brooks Institute in California. His geographic location, plus some exquisite compositional skill, help give his photos a unique look.
How would you describe your photographic vision? What kind of look do you try and create in your photos?
Hyper-reality portrait of the world around us, sometimes bordering the unreal and the surreal world that fills with mysticism and mystery. This is a journey of expression so the look is dreamy and fantasy with high contrast between the black and white tones and a soft undertone. I suppose the overall atmosphere and nuance that is stressed in the photograph.
Name three photographers you like and why.
Long exposure photography – what’s the attraction and why do you do it?
I’m looking to create atmosphere that is bordering between the real and the surreal. It’s the place right in the middle, the border, the Yin and Yang.
Why black and white? What’s the appeal?
Black and white is more pliable for me, so it is easier to create and express my emotion. The appeal lies in the tones and the ability to play with them in order to create a nuance, mood or ambiance.
Minimalism seems to be an important theme running through your work. How deliberate is this? How would you describe your approach to composition?
We live in a world that is very complex. There are lots of walls surrounding our lives so I try to get out and escape to the other side by exposing the minimalist. Michael Kenna is my inspiration, especially with his book “Hokkaido”. I love the way he positions his subject to create a feeling that less is more.
You use the square format for most, if not all of your photos. Why do you do this and how does it affect your approach to composition? How do you make composing in the square format work?
Square is balanced and equal, it is more intimate in my opinion. The rule-of-thirds very much applies to the square format so I base everything on this theory.
There are a lot of landscapes in your portfolio. What is the attraction of the landscape for you as a subject?
The landscape is something vast, without walls or boundary, especially the ocean. It has that calming effect that I think is good for the mind.
How does the diversity and beauty of the Indonesian landscape affect your photography?
There are 13,000 islands in Indonesia. It is the biggest archipelago nation on earth. We are also known as the Ring of Fire that is located in the Indo-Pacific region; it means that we have the most active volcanoes in the world. The magma of these volcanoes creates a fertile land for vegetation to grow and the constant sun from the equator them the lush green look.
Indonesia is a vast country that will be unfamiliar to most of our readers. What parts of the country do you think would be interesting to visit for photographers? What are your favourite places in Indonesia to take photos?
If you are interested in highlands or volcanoes than look no further than the Java Island. Some of the legendary volcanic explosions in the world happened there. For great marine diversity than one should dive the Raja Ampat archipelago on the West Papua region in the eastern part of Indonesia.
There are so many photographers working with long exposure photography techniques in black and white that sometimes it is hard to be original. Yet your work is very original. Can you give our readers any tips for finding an original approach to long exposure photography?
Just don’t stop and don’t be afraid to do something different to keep it fresh. Style and character will ultimately come automatically if you are serious and never stop.
Here are some more of Hengki’s photos:
If you’d like to learn more about long exposure photography, my ebook Slow takes you through the creative possibilities of using slow shutter speeds, from blurring motion with a shutter speed of 1/30 second all the way to long exposure techniques using shutter speeds of five minutes or longer.
All photos in this interview are protected by copyright. Please contact the photographer for permission to use in any way.