four chords, yet silence by Christian Were
please introduce yourself. what is “your style” of photography? Hi, my name is Christian. I was born in Adelaide, a city known for wine, serial killers and a ridiculous number of traffic lights. I grew up in a suburb that was somehow located only 15 minutes from the city centre and yet sat on the edge of a weirdly large pocket of countryside where one could conceivably walk for an entire day without coming across roads or houses and yet encounter a gorge, snakes and even bats in caves. I can’t imagine there being many cities like that. I think growing up in such a place helped inspire a desire for travel and, much later, a love for photography. In Adelaide, I worked in electronics. In Melbourne, where I now live, I work in movie distribution. All of these things have somehow been important to who I am.
In terms of style, I find myself drawn to mysteries; stories that lurk underneath or beyond what is apparent in the image. I guess you could call it a “romantic” style. I don’t subscribe much to the belief that photographs are truthful, so ideally I like to present images in a truthful way but containing a narrative ambivalence, such that there is a lot of room for fiction.
romance by Christian Were
how long have you been shooting film? I first shot film when my parents gave me a Kodak 110 camera for Christmas. I was probably 10 years old and my first photo was of my other Christmas presents huddled into a corner. I never really got photography though and, at that time, never went beyond the occasional holiday snaps, sometimes taking over a year to finish one roll of film. It wasn’t until around late 2006 that I decided to give it a serious go.
do you prefer colour or black & white? do you have a favourite film or camera? At first I only shot colour, but these days I prefer black & white in the daylight and colour film for night. I do have a favourite film – it’s Kodak EPL 400X which, very sadly, was discontinued in 2005. If someone has a Photoshop action to emulate the look of this film, please get in touch with me! As for a favourite camera, the Pentacon Six TL is a camera I use most of the time. Partly because I’m a cheapskate when it comes to photography and I’m not much of a gearhead either. It’s hardly the most reliable camera, but it allows me to do everything I want in photography so I’ve been quite happy sticking with it.
show us one of your favourite shots and tell us a bit about it, how did you take it and is there a story behind it?
until the dreamers reveal themselves at dusk by Christian Were
I took this one in Dalian, which is in the far north-east part of China, in a region formerly known as Manchuria. It was a fascinating city and one where China intersects with the cultures of Russia, Korea and Japan. This actual location is called Xinghai Square. It’s quite new and not well-known but is currently the largest public square in all of Asia. This particular day was a traditional holiday for Chinese, known as “tomb sweeping day” and the weather was lovely. The square curves up at one end like a skateboard ramp and I saw a girl wander up to the lip and just stand there looking out over the edge. It was quite surreal at the time so I took a couple of photos of her.
NGV by Ravnish Gandhi.
show us a favourite shot from the MSM pool. what do you enjoy in other peoples’ photos? This photo is simply amazing. The subject is seen to wander a gallery of blank walls where the only visible features are the multitude of drains and presumably fire and security systems on the ceiling. She is stopped and peers forward to study a work that, to us, is seemingly as blank as the rest of the surroundings. With our daily lives bombarded by so much imagery presented to us, to grab our attention, it seems to tell me that we may overlook the spectacular in the every-day mundane moments that go unnoticed.
what is your dream camera or lens? and why don’t you have it already? There’s not really much gear that I would lust after. For a long while though I’ve been really wanting to get the Canon EOS 85mm f1.2 lens. It has a beautiful quality to it. The only reason I haven’t got it is the cost, which can be said about a lot of cameras and lenses.
give us a question to ask the next person. Why photography?