The images of our next featured age fotostock photographer, Ton Koene, might provoke a wide range of emotions in our readers.  What they won’t provoke is indifference.  This series, “Doctors at the frontline,” documents the work of Doctors without Borders at a hospital in Afghanistan.  And, more powerfully, it tells us something about the lives of women and children in that country.  You can read more about this hospital here and you can see more of Koene's images at www.tonkoene.nl.

At a time when microstocks have started selling photos for editorial use, images like these should invite photographers to a moment of serious reflection.  The value of these images is their very serious and realistic vision of the day-to-day reality in an Afghan hospital.  Their value is the careful composition and storytelling, making them images that communicate powerfully, not sensationally.  Their value is the trust the photographer has developed with the hospital and ONG to gain access and the careful planning behind photojournalism in a conflict zone.  Finally, the value of these images is the financial cost of a trip and long stay in Afghanistan and the risk of harm that the photographer has accepted. 

Should a photographer´s blood, sweat, toil & tears be available for a 14 cents download?  If we sell such valuable images for pocket change, won´t the day come when these valuable and unique images cease to exist?

 

Q: Why did you choose to be a photographer?

A: It is fun. You have no boss, no personnel, and can be creative and free as a bird while travelling the world.

Q: How do you get funding for your trips and projects?

A: It depends, sometimes I seek funding for projects, but mostly I invest profits from my previous projects to initiate new projects.

Q: What equipment do you carry when you’re packing light?

A: I always take: two Canon 5D, one 24 mm 1.4, one 24 mm-70 mm 2.8, one fisheye, flash and chargers. I have no telephoto lens.

Q: Where is your favourite place to photograph?

A: Outside, in all weather conditions. I love the tropics to shoot. I also shoot a lot in conflict areas where the emotions in people are stronger.

Q: Where are you still hoping to go?

A: There is no limit. I would like to go to places which are not photographed too often.

Q: Have you ever faced great difficulty in gaining access for a story?  How did you manage it?

A: I always have problems in photographing as the context I shoot is violent and corrupt. It requires good preparation and being transparent in what you want to do. Also, you must talk to the right people and take good advice.

Q: Do you feel that viewers nowadays have become desensitized to images of war, refugees, etc or are they still impacted by these images?

A: Yes, and often these images are indeed cheap. But a good photograph is always powerful, no matter how often it is being done....but you have to be creative and original...

Q: Which is your favourite of your features?

A: Any feature which shows the strength of people in difficult situations. I like the transvestites in Pakistan as the images are good, but it was also difficult to make.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: AGE has a wide network of distribution which helps my sales and income.

Q: What is the best or worst photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: The worst advice: Do not start doing it, it’s hard to get an income (which is true, but who cares).
The best advice: If a picture is not good enough, you are not close enough (Robert Capa).

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: Rich.


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Our next age fotostock photographer in the 10 x 10 series is Iolanda Astor.  Astor's images explore a world of texture, contrast and gestures, finding the potent moment when shadows meet the light.  In the stock photography industry, predictive and white lit images are the most commercially successful and the market doesn’t seem to pay enough attention to fine-tuned artistic sensibility, but at age fotostock we do appreciate a solid creative vision.

 

See more of Iolanda Astor´s work at age fotostock or at her personal website. 

 

Q: Choose 3 words that describe you.

A: Sensitive, observant and obsessive.

Q: Why did you choose to be a photographer?

A: I guess because I like to watch things (almost pathologically), tell stories, and create feelings & emotions ... and due to the direct influence of my father, a great amateur photographer, who bought me my first camera when I was three. I studied photography at the Institut Fotogràfic de Catalunya (Photography Institute of Catalunya) and I worked professionally in video, film and television.

Q: Any special artistic influences?

A: I’m sure there are many, but they come without trying.  I don´t really mythicize. I like to watch everything around me; if you keep watching, you see such interesting, everyday things. Undoubtedly, I am most moved by light, but also by people and their gestures, strange situations, forms and abstractions of nature ...

Q: What’s your favorite lens and why?

A: I don’t have a favorite, although usually I work between 35 and 135mm. If I had to choose a single lens, I would pick the 35mm for its versatility.

Q: Are you more technical or intuitive in your photography?

A: Definitely intuitive, although I believe it is important to master technique in order to forget about it. I prefer a photo that excites me, whether it’s technically perfect or not, over a technically perfect postcard. I have a problem: I do not like “pretty” pictures.

Q: What’s the Image that you are still hoping to make?

A: I don’t think I’ll ever make it. You could say that I am eternally unsatisfied, photographically speaking, of course.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: Because I’ve known of age for many years and knew people who worked there and could speak for its professionalism.

Q: Do you promote yourself through social networks (facebook, twitter, blog,...)?  Is it helpful?

A: The truth is that I don’t use them.

Q: What is the best or worst photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: Among the worst, to make my photography more commercial… a disaster. And among best was when Alfonso Gutierrez told me to be true to myself in my photos.

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: I've already done other things, but right now I don’t know ... I'd have to think about it.



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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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