Ronny Behnert was born in Luckenwalde, a small city in the south of Berlin, Germany. Since 1989 he lives and works in Berlin but during this time he had his second home in Frankfurt am Main and on the island of Sylt too, where he spent two years. He has been actively working on photography since January 2007. The award winning photographer founded in 2010 his project „Håggard Photography“ and works for various newspapers and magazines but while continuously developing his skills and knowledge, Ronny never wants to give up his amateur spirit. To find himself back in his artworks he tries to spend as much time as it`s possible to explore the world. His recent series and photos from Iceland, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Sweden and Venice have already been published in prestigious photo magazines.
How did you get interested in photography? Do you have an educational artistic background?
First of all, thank you for the Opportunity to be a part of your magazine. I am really proud to share my thoughts, ideas and photos with you.
When I was young I started drawing comics and painted a lot. I was always a person who was influenced by visual arts and effects. After a few years of drawing and painting I lost my passion for that kind of optical presentation and I started taking photos with a friends little camera. That was in the beginning of 2007, so ten years ago. I really liked the possibilty to take photos which shows my personal view of common, or sometimes uncommon, places and motives.
I decided that I want to go deeper in the work of a photographer and so I tried to study photography in my hometown Berlin. Studying photography is really expensive here and I was young, so I couldnt pay the expensive school. I was really disappointed about the fact that I couldn´t study but I didn´t give up and started learning everything I need by my own. So i´m a typical autodidact. Now, after ten years, I think it was the best that could happen to me to got the chance to develop my personal style and workflow and I am still in a developing process.
Where do you get your creative inspiration from? Is there any other artist or photographer who inspired your art?
I do get many inspirations by watching old paintings. An Example: On phototours in „old citys“ like Prague or Venice, I try to find old paintings which shows exciting perspectives. Also the internet helps a lot to find new inspirations. I think it`s important to follow other photographers also and get inspired by them. To be honest every artist is influenced by personal idols. I am not only inspired by photographers. Zaha Hadid and Santiago Calatrava, my most favourite architects, helped me to create my photographic style. Their clean, modern and experimentally architecture helped me to find the visual direction I wanted to go.
Josef Hoflehner is one of the photographers whose works inspired me a lot. He is a good example how the own vision can change during the years of taking photos. Hoflehner became famous with his minimalistic long exposures and decided to change his way in photography. He not only changed his style, he even changed his spots and motives. Another inspirational photographer is Martin Stavars, editor of ND Magazine. Especially his Black and White photos from China, to me, are amazing.
How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph or series of photographs? Do you have any preferences regarding cameras and format?
Different softwares like Photoshop and Lightroom are important for my workflow and I prepare every digital file. I think it´s important to walk with the technical development in photography and it´s also a kind of Zeitgeist to put different digital skills inside modern, or better, contemporary photographies.
I am not into creating new digital worlds but I do use Photoshop to emphasize my visual vision. Of course the basic file has to be as close as to the end result as possible but I use different skills to change the basic photo into the most minimalistic and clean version I can imagine. For me the most important vision is changing chaotic into clear harmonious scenes. To create those kinds of scenes I prefer the square format and 16:9. Square formats support stable compositions which are perfect for minimalistic, clear visions. I prefer the 16:9 format also because this format opens different scenes which don´t fit into the square format. It depends of the perspective which format I am choosing, but in general I know which format I will choose before I take the photo.
Why do you work in black and white rather than colour?
I love black and white images because I think many scenes get alive through black and white contrasts. These contrasts can open new worlds and the monochrome universe looks totally different than the reality. In the last two years I am also focussing on colored versions, which are not that deep than my black and white works. I try to transport a kind of lightness through monochrome colours and just two or three tones which are working in contrast to each other. Not every photo is a black and white photo and for me it´s important to know that. Many people believe, that they can only create black and white photos when the light is bad, grey and boring but I dont think so. The option if Black and White or colour depends on the spot, the composition and the main motif and not only on the light.
Where is your photography going? What are you currently working on and do you have any photographic plans for future?
At the moment I try to develop my colour skills to create minimalistic images with only two or three different tones. Not the typical colourful images. More dreamful, atmospheric images which should awake the same longing feelings than my black and white photos do. I think I will continue working with different ND filters to reinforce these emotional effects.
What are your three favourite photography books?
– Jimmy Nelson – Before they pass away
– Josef Hoflehner – Jet Airliner –
Olaf Heine – Leaving the comfort zone
What do you do besides photography?
I am travelling a lot and try to enjoy live beside working as a photographer in my hometown Berlin. I try to discover as many as different cultures as I can and hope to continue walking this way in future. I think for every person it´s important to travel and to learn how other cultures are living to develop a tolerant and peaceful mind and way of thinking.