“I’m not a huge lover of photography, but I love to be with my camera in hand and go and see and meet people that I normally wouldn’t get to. Photography is a vessel that allows me to explore ideas and places.”
Donald Weber (born in 1973 in Toronto/Canada) is a photographer currently living in Los Angeles, California. He first studied sculpture at art school and before taking up photography professionally, he trained as an architect and worked with urban theorist Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Donald Weber has travelled widely throughout Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia and South America for his assignments as a freelance photojournalist.
Right now he is taking aim at the bigger picture: the growth of insoluble World Power. Donald Weber has since devoted himself to the study of how Power deploys an all-encompassing theater for its subjects; what he records is its secret collaboration with both masters and victims.
His work has won Donald Weber several prices, among them: Lange-Taylor Documentary Prize (“The Underclass and Its Bosses: Crime & Punishment in Ukraine”), Photolucida Book Award (“Bastard Eden, Our Chernobyl”), Guggenheim Fellowship (“The Drunken Bride, Russia Unveiled”) and Canada Council Fellowship (“Opera of Power”).
Donald Weber’s photographs have been published internationally in magazines and newspapers like Der Spiegel, The Guardian, Newsweek, New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone and Stern.
Donald Weber is a member of VII Photo Agency.
“In Moscow” – Photo-Essay from Donald Weber
“This place is not Europe, despite the deliciously creamy raisin-and-pumpkin treats and the yummy, tummy-baring white-skinned girls, the sleek legions of roaming black Mercedes.
No, this is a brigand border-town set down in Asia’s front yard, home to a primitive tribe of unknowable savages – in wonderful suits.”
Interview with Donald Weber
Donald, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
I think it was a Yashica when I was 14, and I photographed my dogs on our sailboat with my Grandma in the background.
Why did you become a photographer?
I loved the idea of adventure and travel and slight odor of danger. I then realized it was a way to see things I normally shouldn’t see or do, to participate in a world that surrounds us but seldom do we get to be a part of it.
What does photography mean to you?
Not much, I’m not a huge lover of photography, but I love to be with my camera in hand and go and see and meet people that I normally wouldn’t get to. Photography is a vessel that allows me to explore ideas and places.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
Raymond Depardon, simplicity and joy of being somewhere.
“I don’t regret the numerous pictures of Brigitte Bardot, but I’d rather have a good photograph of my father.”
How would you describe your photographic style and way of working, the creative process?
No style, just go with an instinct and gut, search for the feeling of a situation and follow it. A deep understanding of the people and places I photograph without being overburdened by too much research, to read fiction and other books, have them inform me of a question that I seek to find.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
Just be honest, don’t think when you’re photographing, think after. Mary Ellen Mark said:
“It’s not when you press the shutter, but why you press the shutter.”
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
I am very simple, I strip out composition from the image, I should say it’s not about the composition of composition (does that make sense?) but it should be about the composition of empathy.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
Empathy and humanity, honesty and sincerity, a good instinct and a good brain.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
I want to be moved, annoyed, pissed off, provoked and challenged.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Walking, thinking, seeing, feeling, gathering of understanding.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Just some digital cameras, old ones, I don’t really care as long as they’re comfortable and they work.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
Nothing really. I try to stay away from photography and am challenged by other forms of art, design, reading, etc.
What photography book would you recommend?
My own! “Interrogations”, Schilt Publishing.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Just do it, isn’t that what Bo Jackson said?
Just go do it, get out there, start walking, start thinking and start photographing.