Spanish Eyes. Interview.

Publication: 
British Journal of Photography, UK (December 12-31, 2003)
Author: 
Dawn Sumner

"It feels as though I have been an outsider all my life, but for me it is not a sad thing, it is a good thing because I think my senses are sharper somehow, and it is a good thing to live an examined life if circumstances make you evaluate it more intensely. Being an immigrant, has given me a certain alertness."

For what Herzog calls 'no tricks' printing she uses Ilford Warmtone paper, which she prints with an Ultra Black developer to give it a cool, slightly olive hue. She is also skilled in specialist darkroom techniques including Platinum and Pyro printing. "I wanted to get to the skeleton of what is going on in the darkroom and the more I went into old processes the more I understood photography. Because I never studied photography and I was never apprenticed, for me the steep learning curve was in the darkroom"

After her first study of bullfighting, Herzog made several more trips to Spain where she was granted access to document the world of the bullfighter, which evolved into her book TAUROMAQUIA. In the opening chapter, titled 'Breeding', the relationship between man and beast is explored as they both learn how to fight for their lives. With the turn of every page the tension builds until the final fight, when Herzog does not hold back in capturing both the passion and pain of this age-old art.

In Flamenco, Herzog documents the movements of dancers who pose with strength in a confrontational manner, their statuesque poses similar to those of the bullfighters. The 100 selenium-silver toned prints were taken during rehearsals at dance studious in Seville and San Francisco. Photographing the dancers using a Leica with a 24mm and 50mm lens meant that Herzog had to position herself close to the intense movement.

Passionate about black-and-white photography she is not ready to embrace digital technology just yet.

"... One thing about analogue is that when you are shooting on film you are creating a sculpture and building a surface whereas when you are shooting on a chip the light goes straight through. It is a whole other world and a different mode of expression ..."

Herzog begins each project with an issue to solve and the answer is revealed to her through the selection of the final prints. "Each project has its own life and you see what it gives you and you have to go with it."