This photo came to life in February 2005 during the Photobiennale Moscow. Looking through its programme I discovered that photographers Marc Riboud and Joel-Peter Witkin would hold seminars there.
I immediately decided to attend both, especially since Marc Riboud was once a member of the legendary Magnum Photos agency, whose photographers, especially those deemed classics, always excited me with their works. I am not really a fan of Witkin but still find his works quite interesting enough to join the seminar.
Such meetings are always fascinating. Even if they last only 10 minutes, it is still capable of reshaping your worldview. Sometimes just one phrase of a knowledgable person is enough for this to happen. And I certainly wanted to make Riboud’s portrait, which is often hard to do during such mass events.
Now I can hardly remember everything Riboud was talking about — these one and a half hours passed in a blink — but I do recall the story of one of his most famous photographs, The Ultimate Confrontation: The Flower and the Bayonet, which he shot with a wide-open 50mm standard lens, being afraid that it wouldn’t work out.
One of his phrases that stuck in my memory was his response to a question about the problem of proving one’s creative relevance:
Do not rush to do “photography”. If you like street photography, just walk around the city and keep on snapping. And I promise you that in 50 years your photos will be in demand!
When the meeting was over, many people rushed to him to discuss their photographs. Realising that I had 15 minutes max until he leaves, I approached him to make at least a few pics while he was busy with others. The top picture shows him at this very moment surrounded by a circle of people.
After a while, when it was time for him to go, I realized that this was my decisive moment. So, I walked straight towards to him, blocking the passage and pointing my camera at him. And he just looked into it in a very special way, and although it was the only such photo I managed to take, it was definitely worth it.
- Camera: Pentax MZ-5N
- Lens: Pentax 50mm F1.4
- Film: Fomapan 400