As part of the Andrei Stenin International Photo Contest, organized by Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, a series of interviews with the jury members – the most prominent photography and art figures — has been conducted.
Andreas Trampe, since 2000, Director of photography Stern magazine. From 1991 to 1996 was head of the picture desk of Germany's biggest Sunday Newspaper Bild am Sonntag. In 1996 started working at STERN Magazine. He was first assigned deputy of the picture desk then became Director of Photography. Trampe is member of several International photo juries and has been working with young photo talents for many years.
Why have you decided to become a jury member of the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest?
We have worked with young photographers in Germany for seven years and have a special program for them. Therefore, since you have a similar program in Russia, we are very interested seeing your program and what you are doing for your young photographers. I am always interested in working with young photographers; I had heard about your competition and when I got the invitation I was honored. It is amazing and is a great opportunity. I have never been to Moscow before and it’s a chance to get in touch and to meet young photographers from Russia and other countries which will be great fun.
What do you think of art elements in documentary photography?
It depends. In the contest there are always a few categories and it very much depends on the category. Documentary photography is a category in which you normally can’t put or wouldn’t include art elements in your photograph, because it shows reality. Documentary photography shows the reality of the conflict or the daily situation. In WPP, the rules say that photographers are not allowed to move a single pixel. You can’t delete something in the picture or add or blocked something else out.
I’ve read the Andrei Stenin Photo contest rules and they are also very strict which is good, in my opinion.
In your opinion, what is more important for a photo journalist: a well-thought-out story, or a picture taken in the right place at the right time?
I think both are important in different ways. If you consider international contests and international awards, they are always giving awards to people who are working on relevant stories. This is not so different from country to country, between photographers or from continent to continent. It differs just a little in what is important. A well-thought-out story, an idea, or a relevant story is the prerequisite for success. Of course it’s important to find the right picture at the right place.
For example, the refugee crisis. In a refugee camp in Greece there were around 200 photographers and they were all working on this relevant story. However, as you can imagine: with so many photographers in the same place at the same time. It’s hard to find a unique picture.
Sometimes it’s not enough to be in the right place; you also have to keep in mind the idea of what you want show and what that story is about. Otherwise you will create the same pictures as the other 200 photographers. You have to think about how you can present your work it in a unique way.
What do you think is more important, the image quality or promptness?
Image quality can be very poor, but even then, the picture can be very strong and win the prize. For example, the picture that won WPP last year was created by a photographer from Australia who lives in Belgrade. He took a black and white picture, which was not vet sharp and was out of focus. He depicted a refugee who passed a baby through the fence between Serbia and Hungary. In technical terms: it was really poor picture. On the other hand, it’s a very dramatic picture; it shows the fear and the pressure which last on the refugees in this moment. This image shows that even through a poor quality picture, we can see the starkness of reality in a very tense moment.
What should be in a picture to catch your interest?
The picture should show a situation or should inform the viewer about what’s going on, but should also include important emotions; emotions that should be transported from photographer to the audience. That could be humor, excitement, exhaustion, frustration etc. That is what most people prefer in photography and this is evident in the fact that most pictures that are awarded worldwide show people in dramatic situations with emotions. Through these emotions the photographer can transport the content directly to the hearts of the people viewing the image.
How can photographers become professionally accomplished now that electronic media are winning out over printed media?
Very often a printed picture or a picture at the exhibition will stay in the viewer’s head. For example, I mentioned the World Press Photo picture of the year last year which accomplishes this very well, once the audience has seen it, it remains with them; just as well as very good video footage stays in you the memory.
The most of the staff you see on TV or web disappears very fast. We live in an age when most footage we see on TV and online disappears very quickly. From any one moment, the audience sees the news from Ukraine or Greece and understanding it, but will forget it after a week or so. There is too much of it, too much video footage and pictures.
These contests, WPP, Stenin Contest look for the best, they look for excellence. They show the best of the best pictures. All these very special pictures will be printed, exhibited….and will stay in people’s minds.
To stay in people’s minds, young photographers must take any chance to be published and, of course, they should take part in contests
In your opinion, are there any ethical limits in quality event photography (for instance, in photography composition)?
You can do art photography, composed photographs, or portraits with any chosen background. That is possible.
The problem starts when the photographer tries to create a new reality, which does not exist. That is what you can’t do.
That is manipulation.
In your point of view, what kind of a sports story or a sports photo could win the Grand Prix?
Sport is a very hard category today. The competition with TV is extreme. This is because TV can use tricks such as slow motion in which they can stop the picture.
The most people consume sport live on TV; they don’t consume sport on the internet or through a newspaper. So it has to be an extraordinary sport photo, if it would win the GrandPrix.