November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Guenter Knop/Photography


©Guenter Knop



“Artworks That Represent Women

As They See Themselves”



Introduction:
Photographer Guenter Knop was born in Germany in 1954. He began his commercial career working as first assistant to photographer Charlotte March, in Hamburg, from 1979-1981. After a year of travel around the world, he came to the United States to work as first assistant to Henry Wolf, Henry Wolf Productions, where he continued to build a commercial portfolio doing television commercials, still lifes, catalogues, portraits and advertising.  Since 1989, he has conducted his own business as a commercial photographer for advertising, cosmetics and editorial. His resume includes dozens of exhibitions and scores of publications. His photographic and artistic love is the female nude. The following interview was conducted in an e-mail exchange in February and March 2011.

— Mike Foldes



Knop on Knop:

Twenty-five years ago I was asked by the world famous art director Henry Wolf to come to New York and work for him.  I left Germany and built a new life in New York City which includes two daughters, Camille and Caroline. Today, Kristin and Maximilian.

After assisting Henry Wolf for eight years I went on my own. Commercial work of different kinds paid the bills, but my focus has always been on the female nude. The concept stayed the same. I wanted my subjects to be real women — not models.

Nudity can be a touchy subject and at first it was hard to find volunteers. Soon I had a selection of photographs to show, which made it easier for women to understand my intentions. When I meet or see a women that I think would be a good subject, I hand out my card and briefly explain the concept. They can visit me or my gallery’s website and see for themselves.

The response has always been favorable.

I compiled all the pictures that are with collectors in one book. “Guenter Knop on Women”. This is a book about women for women!!! Sixteen people of different backgrounds volunteered to write comments about what they see in my  book.

My goal is and will always be to photograph real women for their own display and to convert ideas into artworks that represent women as they see themselves.

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Q: The work in your Art portfolio comes across strong and focused on taking the human form, primarily female, and creating vexing images. When and how did you discover the power of photography to capture your erotic imaginings?

GK: My father instilled the love of photography in me. Like many parents’ fate, the children will follow the path that the parents would love to have taken.

I am what my father wanted to be.

My mother wanted to be a vet. My sister is. My other sister travels all over the world and leads people to amazing places — a joy that my parents shared.

As a child I saw “photomagazin”, a German photography monthly. Mesmerized by the beauty of my aunt Hella, who was very, very pretty and running around me naked when she got ready for a date, I started enjoying the female body. Looking at my work, my father only criticized once for showing too much. This stayed with me until today. The privacy has nothing to do with a nude. The architectural elements I added later and got encouragement from Achim Moeller, an art dealer in New York.  With every woman that volunteered, I got more excited to pursue this way of portraying women. My wife and muse is a good example of a good combination between the photographer and his model.

Kristin, Maximilian and Guenter Knop

Q: Guenter, you have a beautiful family. Thanks for sharing this photo. When did you come to the states, and did you meet your wife here?

GK: I have two lives. My first one is in the past and won’t be discussed.

I came in 1982 to be hired by my mentor and friend Henry Wolf  (art director and photographer). I worked for him for about 10 years.

In that time I started a bad relationship which created two very smart young girls and ended in a disaster out of which my wife Kristin saved me. I don’t think I could have survived without her. We have Maximilian, our beautiful son, and building our lives together.  I met Kristin, like all my models, on the streets of Manhattan (53rd Street and Lexington Ave) . She was born in upstate New York to a black mom and a white father. Part of her family is in San Francisco and the other still in upstate New York.

Not only was I excited about Kristin as a model but also as a rep for my art. She understands me and my work. From the moment we met she worked hard to update my website and expose me to the internet. Getting to know my circumstances she left me just to decide later to continue to work with and for me. Out of this developed a relationship where we both realized that we had what the other was longing.

That is what made us decide to stay together and have Maximilian.

Q: Do you have an academic background in the arts or photography?

GK: No, I am an autodidact. When I quit studying Agriculture I went to the best fashion photographer at that time and asked her to assist. She agreed and from then on it was learning the trade.

Q: I notice you say you will shoot digital or film. A lot of photographers these days say film is too expensive to reproduce for digital imaging (scanning cost, etc.), and too slow (hours for results vs. immediate), especially when clients want to see their product “on the spot”. How much demand do you see in the commercial world for film? What do you shoot ‘for fun’?

GK: Digital or Analog is not a choice. My art is done on film. I like the grain and what you can do with film for example double exposures.

I tried to get the grain of the images of Drtikol (ed. note: FrantišekDrtikol, Czech photographer, March 3, 1883 January 13, 1961), but could not get it as sharp as he did. So with every period there is something gained and something lost.

Q: Do you have a preference for printers when you’re doing digital reproduction?

GK: When I saw my printers first try to print one of my Art Deco pieces I was amazed!!!! It had all the detail in the black and all in the light parts of the picture. I promised myself I will never ever suffer through a day of bad fumes in a darkroom. I gave up a $12,000 machine and I am happy. I shoot film (35 mm) and scan it on my Imacon scanner. Then my printer prints it digital on Hahnemuhle paper on an Epson 43-inch huge printer. For my taste that is perfect.

For clients I shoot only digital. They have different expectations and time concerns.

Besides, digital has advantages. It is very sharp and instant. Connected to your camera via computer the client can see the result instantly. Soon there will be cameras that run consistently so you just stop the camera and pick your  picture. The postproduction is tedious.

Film is not expensive if you know what you are doing. If you shoot 10 rolls of film on one position you should not photograph. If you don’t have it in 36 frames you don’t get it in 360. Yes, it take time to develop the film and scan it, but for that you get a different look. You can’t rush a good thing.

I hope I answered your question.

©Guenter Knop

Q: What kind of camera(s) do you use? Which do you prefer? Any preference for lighting?

GK: I always liked and used Canon cameras. I love Elinchrome and Norman lighting.

What I like is when the composition and the lighting leads your eyes to the point of focus. I like contrast in pictures so you feel the three dimensions .  In most cases I don’t like flat lit pictures. The master of light in my eyes is Horst P. Horst . His work lives through his lighting. But also Herb Ritts , Frantisek Drtikol, Mappelthorpe, Man Ray and a man that very few people know, Aubrey Bodine.

Q: Do you have other creative outlets, besides photography and family? For example, painting, music, etc.?

GK: Inspiration I get from going to galleries and museums . For example, the W. Turner show at the Metropolitan Museum inspired me to do two pictures with my muse and wife.

I myself  don’t paint or play an instrument but I enjoy a lot of different styles. I listen to Classical music, Jazz, Reggae, Bues, French music, Mexican music, Cuban music and Rock and Roll.

Q: Do you have any advice for younger people who want to pursue careers in photography?

GK: My advice for younger people is: If you like photography learn Graphic Design. Photography is only a tool and the tool does not need very many skills today.

Digital made photography easy and instant. For what it is used and what is expected you can’t make a living with it.  The combination of graphic design and photography has a future. Even better when you learn film direction. In the future you won’t have single shot cameras but movie cameras that will take a sequence of movements that you can freeze and you select the picture out of it. Graphic design gives you the opportunity  to present your photography in a way that is right in your eyes. If you are good, you will be successful.

Going back to pinhole cameras or even glass plates is a gimmick to sell (most of the time) images that are not even worth shooting with a Polaroid camera. That is the same as if you walk from Boston to New York on your hands. Hard work for what? Nobody cares.

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Guenter Knop/Seeing Women

Seeing women as they see themselves...

[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/guenter-knop/thumbs/thumbs_kristin-my-dream.jpg]760
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[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/guenter-knop/thumbs/thumbs_titanic.jpg]370
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[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/guenter-knop/thumbs/thumbs_my-muse-and-i.jpg]560

View larger photos from the gallery please enter the FS button.

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For more of  Guenter Knop’s works, and information about the photographer, please visit:

http://www.Guenterknop.com

http://532gallery.com/

4 comments

1 curtis salonick { 04.14.11 at 4:45 pm }

Thanks for sharing it was a very enlightening interview, I enjoyed reading how things came about congrates.

Curt

2 Ilene Skeen { 04.14.11 at 9:37 pm }

This is a great interview.

Guenter is a wonderful photographer and a consistent prize winner at the website, Barebrush.com, home of the N*des-of-the-Month.

3 Jennifer Bodine { 04.18.11 at 6:39 am }

Excellent interview. Your work is beautiful.

4 Jessie Carty { 04.26.11 at 10:58 pm }

What a gift to have such a terrific picture take on you!