Otto K’s photography can be described as beautiful. Hauntingly, mysteriously and definitely thought-provokingly beautiful. There is a magic to it that pulls you in to a world created by his experience, his eye and his camera. The results are artistic masterpieces that could take your breath away.
Love and Water- When did you know you were a photographer?
Otto K- I got my first SLR back in high school, and while it was kind of fun, it really didn’t become a passion at that time. I continued taking photos while I was at Georgia Tech, and I was mainly absorbed into getting my degree. I met a friend in Austin, TX where I went to work after college, and we started taking trips, which lead to bigger trips, and I started recording them. Photography was a way to record those trips, but it also started to mean more during that time. I had been using a point-and-shoot camera, but around that time I got an SLR which changed my interest again. I started taking more photographs until it took off into much more than a hobby. I was trying to figure out at that point what it was I wanted to record. I found I was being drawn toward things that were not so pretty. Abandoned buildings and abandoned houses were appealing to me because I could try to find beauty in the destruction and loneliness. That drove a lot of what I did for a good while. Creatively I love finding places like that because I can get completely absorbed and lost all sense of time.
L&W- Is that the direction you still take with your work?
OK- It’s definitely something I always find myself coming back to. I recently went to Southwest New Mexico and was out in the wilderness the whole time and was into shooting things that were pretty and just recording the trip. But when I’m home I still look for things that are ordinary or flawed and try to capture them in a way that reveals an inner beauty about them. When I first read an article about Wabi-Sabi, which is a Japanese principle about finding beauty in the physical world in things that are broken, I thought, “oh! That’s it! That’s what I’ve been trying to do with my work.” I have almost 30 cameras now, and some of them are what people might consider to be toy cameras or just basic plastic cameras. Some are older cameras that take imperfect pictures. And that’s what appeals to me about them. It’s kind of an imperfect take on whatever the camera is viewing. I can get to know them pretty well and understand how they’re going to take certain pictures, which helps. I have one camera though that although always ends up taking beautiful shots, I never really know what I’m going to get. It’s very unpredictable, but I like that.
L&W- Where can we purchase your work?
OK- My primary photo blog is www.ottokphotography.com, and there is a portfolio on that. I have work on Esty as well.
L&W- What is the most moving moment you’ve had so far with your work?
OK- I had an opportunity to go to an abandoned house that has been deserted since the 70’s. It’s a beautiful house, and it was the most spiritually attached I’ve ever been to a place. I absolutely loved the feel of the place. It was a very quiet house, and I felt like I could still hear whispers of the people who had lived there before. I loved shooting there- it was the most amazing experience I’ve had shooting. It was one of my most satisfying moments.
L&W- Is there anything else you want people to know about your work?
OK- I guess the one thing that comes to mind is the fact that I take photos because I have a passion for it. I don’t really ever try to achieve a particularly deep meaning with my photography. A lot if it is that I just love taking pictures. I’ve gone back to film and find the whole process very calming. I have thought at times to do things that are more planned, but I always like the experience of going somewhere and seeing how the place speaks to me. A lot of times I’ll go somewhere and won’t photograph anything for a long time. I might be somewhere for three hours and only take three rolls of film. I enjoy taking my time and figuring out how I want to capture what is around me. That is more interesting to me.
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