“I think a lot how different things would look like as a photograph. Even if I walk around without a camera I take pictures in my mind.”
Matjaz Rust is a contemporary documentary photographer from Slovenia. He started out working in a newspaper, but then quit his job to focus on his own projects mostly dealing with social issues.
For Matjaz Rust photography is a medium that helps him to understand what’s around him.
Interview with Matjaz Rust
Matjaz, in your work you focus on documentary photography dealing with social issues. Why did you decide to take that direction?
I feel the closest to it. I didn’t think about it too much. In most cases you end up where your heart leads you to.
One of your latest series is called “Impressions”. What is it about?
It’s about my impressions about different places I have been during the last two years. It’s has three parts but it hasn’t been published completely yet. I still have to edit photographs from China.
The images of “Impressions” are in black and white, most of them very low-key. Was opting for monochrome a deliberate choice to reinforce the message you’d like to bring across?
No, I just prefer black and white. I have no problems working with colours, too. It’s like using different tools.
How do you generally use the wide range of possibilities photography offers to address issues and subjects of your projects? Do you think of that a lot or do you rather follow your instincts?
So far I have followed my instincts more or less. I’ll see about that in the future.
At the beginning of each project one often has some kind of idea in mind as to what the result could be like. Sometimes that changes along the way and the result is quite different. Was that the case with “Impressions” and if so what did you learn during the project?
“I like surprises and not to plan too much.”
In case of “Impressions” I had no idea of what the result could look like. I had no idea how the next city will look like or who will I meet, so I just kept shooting on the way and in the end it turned out the way it did. I like surprises and not to plan too much.
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at your photos?
Some feelings at least.
Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
I think a lot how different things would look like as a photograph. Even if I walk around without a camera I take pictures in my mind. And I learned about myself how I react in uncomfortable situations and how to start feeling comfortable.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
“The smallest things in your life make a difference.”
Probably quitting my daily job as a newspaper photographer, leaving Slovenia for almost two years and coming back to finish my studies. But sometimes the smallest things in your life make a difference.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Q: What inspires you the most?
A: A good cup of coffee.