May 29, 2011

"Those Were the Days" - Schloss Lembeck, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany (November 1982)


After reading two books by Irvine Welsh (“Ecstasy”, “Trainspotting”), I decided on one by Paul Auster (“Leviathan”).
By comparison, this last author reads a bit like “Reader’s Digest”.
It kind of misses something…

I always felt the same about my humanistic photography: it’s like ice cream with eierlikör on top, it’s like sex with a pillow.
Aiming at the higher-levels of some of my “heroes” (Josef Koudelka, Robert Frank, William Klein…), I am obliged to concede that my efforts seem to be in vain.

My images are a little too soft…

My photography lacks punch!

Wanting to widen my horizon, rucksack on my back, 2000 escudos in my pocket, I hit the road to Germany in the distant year of 1974.

I had met a german girl before, so the first town I lived in was Münster.
What a difference!

Coming from a small and forgotten little land that suffered 48 long years of dictatorship, my young naive eyes would just marvel at this open-minded world.

I felt lost and enlightened at the same time: I couldn’t really feel at home, and I didn’t want to leave and go back to the darkness where I was coming from, either.

The girl soon became my wife. She was coming from Gross Reken, a village not far from Münster, so I quickly became acquainted with Münsterland, a region that I kept admiring and enjoying through the years.

Belonging to Dorsten, Schloss Lembeck is only a short distance from Reken. When I was bothered from hanging around my parents-in-law, I often went for a visit to the Schlosspark (after that Veltins Pilsener would taste even better…).

Again and again I had a Leica with me.

Shot with Leica M4-2 + Elmarit-M 28mm

The images might be soft-spoken, but aren’t those trees beautiful?

Technical data:
Camera- Leica M4-2
Lens - Leitz Canada Elmarit-M 2.8/28mm
Film - Kodak Tri-x
Developer - Kodak D-76, diluted 1+1
Location - Schloss Lembeck, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Date - November 1982



  1. Olá Rui. Esse ano foi decerto um belo ano, pois foi no mesmo que nasci!
    Também li o transpooting há uns anos atrás e conheço algo de Paul Auster embora não tenha lido.
    Para mim a fotografia serve também para guardar um pedaço da beleza que vimos em algum momento. Por vezes deparamo-nos com momentos mágicos como se de um alinhamento de planetas se tratasse, aquela altura em que tudo está em perfeita sintonia e que somos capazes guardar numa fotografia algo ainda mais bonito que aquilo que vimos. Há muita beleza nas suas fotografias e digo isto por ser o que penso. Por vezes o fotógrafo vê a mesma imagem tantas vezes que se torna impossível vê-la com os mesmos olhos de quem a vê pela primeira vez.
    Então questionamo-nos: será que...?
    Eu acho que não lhes falta nada. A qualidade delas é avassaladora, e o digital ainda tem muito que aprender. Os detalhes, os contrastes e o próprio enquadramento. Tudo está em sintonia. Um beijinho.

  2. Rui - I don't think your photographs lack punch or are too soft. To the contrary, I think your black and white images are superior - really high grade work, much better than the usual image someone puts up on the internet - in other words, professional in craft and artistic in design.

    I truly appreciate being able to view your work on this site. Please continue.

    All my best,

    Max Jenkins

  3. Belas...Imagens,sim, Belas Árvores também...ambas me emocionaram...

  4. Thank you Mónica, Max and the person with no name (everybody has a name, even if they don't wish to carry the load...),
    I am glad about your comments, because I believe that they come from the heart, they are no jive or small talk.
    I will try to better explain what I meant. I will do it in english, in the hope that everybody can understand.
    The stuff would lead us to endless nights of discussion, endless bottles of wine, probably a myriad of opinions. Obviously, this is no place for that...
    So, I will try again with examples, in the hope that I can make it clear. The three photographers that I named, I think about them as beeing somewhere in the "middle" of the scale (now, I am NOT making any quality judgements, I am not saying this one is better, the other one is worse. I am only talking about style and "softness").
    Broadening the scale, Cartier-Bresson would be a "softie", softer than the three ones I named before(Am I gonna be crucified now?), with nice, perfectly composed images. On the other end, I could name Don Mc Cullin, definitely a guy with real "punch"!The man has his balls in the right place!And I don't necessarily mean his war photographs...
    All of these names are my heroes, so no better or worse... Some are maybe easier to look at, some take some guts to keep looking.
    What is my place in the middle of all this talking? It's up for you to judge...
    Now Monica is an exception! I know that people from many sides of the world regularly watch my postings (from Australia and Japan, all the way through Borneo, to the USA and Canada. Europe too, of course: Germany, France, Uk, Hungary, Russian, etc., etc. South Americans are also common, only Africa comes a little short... Excuse me all the other ones that I forgot...I am writing straight, I will publish straight). Only in the town I have been living for the last three years, I am (almost) completely ignored! (That's why Mónica is an exception...). And I don't only mean the blog!
    I know that they know that I exist, they just pretend not to see and look the other way. Did I forget maybe any kind of membership card?
    Strange, very strange... (This country is getting weird for sure!).
    Don't worry Max, you will keep seeing some thing around here, the vault isn't empty...
    Hope that you all keep on visiting and discovering something worthwhile.
    I do it for you!

  5. You bring back so many moments of my youth !! In 1980 I was visiting Schloss Lembeck with my class during a trip to the "Münsterland". ... in 1985, from July to Oktober, I was serving army in Mannheim before being ordered to the Eifel-region. I wonder if you have ever visited my hometown, Bonn.

    BTW, my family and I are moving to Germany in two month, much closer to Portugal than now. I truly hope to have the chance of meeting you there some time soon.

  6. Helo Gabor,
    Of course, I visited Bonn a couple of times, although I think that I have never made photographs there... The last time I have stayed there is already a long time ago (1992?). I was travelling to Photokina with a group of photographers (I was back in Portugal).
    Who knows, maybe I drove you in my cab in the 80's... I was often by Patton Barracks or Headquarters in Heidelberg. Every now and then, mainly on weekends, I would drive groups of soldiers to Mannheim (Sullivan Barracks? Do I remember well, or was that Schwetzingen?). By 1985, I was still driving taxi...
    I am glad that you are getting near. We should try to meet in Germany or, why not?, in Portugal. We definitely should keep that in mind. I hope that everything is allright with you and your family. I really liked the photograph of your kid at the window.
    Wish you all the best in the world, lots of happiness and health with loads of good images,

  7. Gostei muito das paisagens com pessoas!
    Tudo muito belo.

  8. Obrigado Ana,
    torna-se por vezes estranho, como eu começo a (re)viver através das memórias que as fotografias me trazem. Não é bem o caso de Schloss Lembeck que continuei a visitar ao longo de vários anos (a última vez em 2004 ou 2007...), mas que recordo eu desse dia particular em que fiz estas imagens?
    No meio dos negativos, há uma fotografia em que aparece o meu pai, pelo menos a dita pessoa é parecida com ele e veste um casaco de pato igual a um que me acompanha há muitos anos. Como me poderia eu lembrar de estarem os meus pais de visita à Alemanha nessa época? Será mesmo o meu pai?
    E assim as vivências vão-se reconstruindo aos poucos, mantendo de alguma forma coesa um tecido já muito rasgado e puído pelo tempo.
    Mas sim, o lugar é realmente bonito!