Unveiling the modern landscape

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Nick Frank is a significant name in the Fine Art industry. A German photographer, who shifted to personal expression from the field of advertising campaigns, has been publicated in numerous magazines and newspapers, which are attired by his very own vision of the modern world we live in. Together with Llamas’ Valley, he discusses his projects and evokes the problems of a twenty-first-century’s photographer.

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An interesting fact caught my attention – it wasn’t until 2010 when you started “expressing ideas in your own pictures”. What triggered you to take up personal photography after working for advertising agencies?

What I did not like about being an Art Director (and Creative Director later on) working in advertising was that almost all of the projects required a lot of people to get the job done, meaning it was easy to lose a certain level of quality because all of the steps involved. It also made  things slow and not very flexible. Being a Fine Art photographer made things easy again for me. I would pick the subject, release the shutter, edit the image and release it afterwards. Everything is done by myself and if I fail in between, I know where the error is and can work on it. This is probably what drove me into it. Also having a strong graphical background helped in what I wanted to achieve.

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Your work seems to be pretty much inspired by minimalism, reflected in architecture and urban landscapes. You also play with colors to create an optical effect – from “Mono madness” projects to vibrant hues of modern buildings. How would you define yourself your photography?

Let me first say that I really like the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, especially what they did with „Basic forms“ and „industry landscapes“. I am someone who tries to think in collections, not just single images. It’s much harder to get a series of 10 shots instead of a single one. Also Andreas Gursky is one of my favorites and you can see in his work that Bernd Becher was his Professor. Essentially, my work is about reduction. I am trying to remove everything from my images that can distract the viewer till the essence of what I want to show becomes visible.

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What is the key difference between your works of advertisement and these of your own?

Art is something that you are doing out of a inner urge. Design or advertisement is paid work, you are not picking the subject there, you can try to interpret it in a different way, look for little gaps and ways to give it a personal touch, even though you are doing what the client wants you to do. Art is a personal expression, a subjective version.

“Subways” is one of your biggest projects. What did you experience while traveling in different subways of the world?

Standing in a subway station around 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning feels like you are under a cheese cover no matter where you are in the word (while it is Friday in Islamic countries). It’s all quiet and lonely, every now and then you see someone recovering from a party night on a bench but that is about it. I love the feeling of staying in a place that is usually very hectic but now you can relax and breath, think about things and make plans.

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How do you come up with ideas for your photo essays? How does creating process of one look like?

The best thing probably is to talk with other people about subjects you find interesting and virtually play a creative ping pong with them. It doesn’t matter too much if they are creative people or not, talking about something greatly helps to come up with an idea.From my point of view,  ideas usually evolve in the process of the execution. Sometimes in the end you come up with  something completely different because what you initially thought doesn’t work out or you just found something that works even better. I start with some testing when I have the feeling that the idea I came up with works and see what will happen afterwards.

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Do you have any passions besides photography?

Besides meeting family and friends and having a good time, there is not much time left. I like watching movies, especially the ones from Ridley Scott, where the art direction and camerawork is usually outstanding.

How do you think photography will evolve in the future?

That is a difficult question and actually I think you have to take 2 things into account there. One is photography itself and the other one is the commercial side of it which includes artists who are currently earning their buck with photography.Photography itself is constantly changing and evolving, clearly you can see a lot of trends right now how to take pictures and how to process them afterwards. Everyone can take pictures now, our phone cameras are almost up to pro level. That is a good thing. As for the business side, it is getting harder and only the ones with the best network and/or ability to take good photos will survive in the future. Instagram made it difficult for some professional photographers. Hobbyists all over the globe are very visible now and most of them are shooting for free once big brands ask. In general with pictures being used so inflationary like it is right now, it’s becoming harder and harder to earn a decent buck with it. On the other hand, pictures like you see them now are getting better and better because people are competing with each other and that is like a cascade of creativity. This is also a good thing, right?

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What are your ambitions for the future?

Finish my second book. It’s about a very German thing – can’t say too much right now, though. In addition to that, I want to visit some countries where I haven’t been so far. Korea is on my list, for example. Everything else is just right at the moment. I want to keep it that way.

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What does creativity signify to you?

Creativity, in my opinion, is cross thinking. While it is utterly hard to create something completely new (especially in photography) it still means one is able to interpret things in a different way. Have a own vision on things. Make something bigger or smaller, twist it around, change the color and/or combine it with something else. Creative means thinking beyond the norm. Looking behind something. Also being creative can be an attitude. For me it means not having a professional and a private live but living a combination of that.

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