Exerpt from an Interview with Daniel Eiba, from EYESO from Aug 27th, 2018
Gunnar Heilmann’s work deepens the possibilities of capturing light as a main subject in the world of digital photography. With a background in engineering and innovation, he transcripts this approach into rendering pictures in single shots with minimal treat in post production.
The long exposure photographs deploy light both as a tool and as a subject. This technique, called light painting, influences the viewer’s perception of the environment, often creating new sculptural forms, scales and atmospheres and transferring them into landscapes and deep, whimsical portraits.
By using light as an instrument, Gunnar’s reinterpretation of motion in space is turning ephemeral choreographies into drawings and transforming imperceptible moments into visual stories. His methods appropriate tools such as fiber optics, fire and torches, juxtaposing natural and artificial elements by manipulating the aperture during the shot.
Gunnar is based in Berlin, Germany
Questions to Gunnar Heilmann
How would you describe your photography to someone who has never seen it?
The field is called “long-exposure photography” and I make use of different sources of light (torches, fire, fiber optic, etc.) to engineer the photographs. The shots take from seconds to minutes and often involve me purposefully and analogically lighting areas or creating shapes with light. I make very little use of digital post processing, so preparation and right settings are crucial.
What makes a great photograph?
A great photograph fires your curiosity and ignites your imagination. Makes one talk and write about it, incites your interest into its process and elicits emotions. It tells a story without words.
What’s your main source of inspiration when you’re behind the camera?
Nature and its organic infinite and diverse shapes. Most of my photography is done outdoor and throughout the world. That poses logistics questions regarding tools I can bring and accessibility conditions, a lot of planning ahead and many layers in my maps. Once I find myself at the location and in the process, I begin to play with the given elements, the tools I have in hand and the features of the landscape. Though planned ahead and engineered, the mystery awaits whilst I am drawing or lighting a subject, not knowing what impression it will bring. Same process applies for portraits, as they transform into landscapes using the same techniques, yet in another scale.
How is the photography industry changing in the digital era?
As digital photography has lower entry barriers, this art form gets democratized, communities are created over online platforms and more and more excellent content is being created, allowing alternative forms of income for amateur photographers. It’s connecting people with common interests and merging lifestyles with professional lives.