Michael Ballhaus once said ‘For me behind the camera, it was an act of love’, and same applies to Stefan Dotter. If anything, the works of his might be best described as romantic, dreamy and calming. Whether he marks a moment of sheer spontaneous or staged act, there will always be that trace of intimacy and vulnerability in all his photography – that probably might have to do a lot with a fact that he as a person is exactly like his photography. Stefan is treading a fine line between keeping things private yet public at the same time, and with a new exhibition coming up (Stefan will participate in a group show called: Forget Fear, opening 16th of December 2016 at Vernissage, Berlin), now was the perfect time to sit down with him and talk taste, sense, and dreams.
I feel like we are all searching for answers in life. Some find it in religion or philosophy, through their work , drugs, whatever – you name it. Photography is my medium of exploring the undefinable variables of beauty, nature and relationships. I have a whole lot of reasons in my head right now but ultimately it’s maybe my way of avoiding to cope with reality too much.
You come from a family of architects, how come you are not one?
Being a photographer is my late teenage rebellion.
How do your parents feel about the work you do?
My mother gets upset when she sees female nudity in my pictures. Apart from that she showcases me as a poster child. She’s the cutest. They are both very proud of me and that gives me the most.
What did you want to be growing up?
An architect, duh. There was a time in my life where I wanted to play the game of money at Wall Street so I studied business. The purchase of my first camera saved me from that sad world and gave me back a sense of humanity.
You do so much different work… You are a publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Whitelies magazine, you paint, you write, you take photographs… Do you do all that stuff just to fill up your time so you don’t have any time left for thinking?
No. I take my time for thinking. It’s rather that I use it to avoid wasting my time in social situations where I feel uncomfortable. It’s 11pm on a friday right now and I “had to” bail out from a bar night to answer this interview.
What do you fear most?
Becoming emotionally numb. Or blind.
Do you think the ‘perfect picture’ exists?
Not anymore. When I started out, perfection was ultimately what I was chasing all the time. I consider myself a retired perfectionist now.
Who, in your opinion, did come closest to perfection?
Where do you find beauty?
In women mainly….
How do you decide what is worth photographing and what is a waste?
If the space between the scene/subject and me isn’t filling up with some sort of emotional energy I don’t press the shutter.
Are you impulsive while taking photos or do you wait for the right moment?
Depends. When I’m documenting I make myself invisible and capture the right moments, ideally when my subject isn’t aware of being photographed. Invisibility is a powerful tool.
Who are some of your heroes?
Jamie Hawkesworth is pretty cool. Oh and my mentor Sebran D’Argent.
What was the last book you read?
“Freedom from the known” by Jiddu Krishnamurti, a new perspective on the spiritual approach told through the lifework of the author.
What is on your list for 2017?
Making photography great again.
Last song you listened to?
This very moment I’m listening to “The Vanishing American Family” by ScubaZ.
Do you dream during the day or night?
Always- I can’t tell the difference sometimes. Reality is merely an illusion anyway, albeit a very persistent one. Sometimes we live in a nightmare, from which I wake in sleep from time to time.
Your favorite taste?
Smell that reminds you of your childhood?
The typical Rudolf Steiner kindergarden smell.
Did you have imaginary friends growing up?
Although I was a loner I never projected my split personality to the outside I guess.
Do you think solitude is bliss?
Absolutely. It’s painful in youth, but gets delicious in the years of maturity.
By Katja Horvat