Slovenian photographer Robert Hutinski’s work is confrontational. His photography is meant to take a stand and defend it. Since Hutinski believes that your true purpose in life is to share your views with those who think differently, his photography means to be unapologetic. That his personal motto is politcal incorrectness isn’t surprising, his work revels in it.
So in that light, what do you see in the image above? There are many interpretations. But what I see is the subject at a moment of epiphany. She’s leaping — perhaps to faith, maybe not — to whatever it is that guides her. I imagine her being next to the ocean that makes no noise. Hutinski’s work is filled with images like these, and they have been garnering international recognition. His work has been recently awarded by PX3 and the International Photography Awards.
In this interview, Hutinski explains how he comes up with his unique photos, discusses how the film format better suits him, and reveals why he never pays his models.
Your work is haunting and visually complex, many relying on double exposures. How did you get your start in fine art photography? How did you develop this style?
If you’re coming from film photography, like I do, it’s all very simple. Connect everything with imagination and fragments of your thoughts, and the images become vague and undefined, just like dreams. Digital photograph offers too much information for the so-called fine art photography, but is very useful for documentary and nature photography.
You state that photography must document, communicate then warn and take a stand. Could you explain this process? Why must photography be political?
To me, the essence of communication, be it verbal or otherwise, is to offer your view to others and share it with them. Sharing your own view, a dialogue with those who think differently than you, is in my opinion the only true purpose of human existence. Political incorrectness, which I have adopted as my personal motto, is in actual fact a metaphor for this state, as I believe that it, together with conviction, is the only way to achieve a (metaphorical) conflict, which triggers a process of thinking as the reaction, making it possible to stand your ground and actively participate in the dialogue itself. Without this, all you are is a blind follower to others’ ideas.
Many of your photographs utilize projected background images to add atmosphere. How do you find these supplemental images to use for your photographs?
As mentioned before, the essence of man is the process of thinking, which I attempt to decode into images. Every image must therefore bear a meaning to the process of my thoughts and explanations that I’m trying to show. Therefore, the backgrounds are, in a sense, accessories to better understanding an idea.
You also tend to use much post-processing to complete your final image. Could you give us a quick breakdown of your post-processing workflow?
In all my years of photography, I have developed an analog-digital post-production process, and I keep upgrading it. At the moment, I am using old glass plates as textures and frames, but also in a sense as a simulation of the processes used in the early days of photography.
Your portraits are intense and brooding. How do you get your portraits to seem so devastating?
The key is the selection of the subject itself, along with the post production that further emphasizes the sense of the idea of the shot itself and the reason why it was created.
In your “Cabaret” series you combine sexualized images with religious symbolism. What goes through your mind when you’re planning a shoot? Are there certain themes you wish to convey beforehand?
Sexuality and religion are so intimately interlinked that the line between them is so thin and fragile, one can easily overstep unconsciously, and when you start thinking about it on a conscious level, the line vanishes completely.
Some of your images can be explicit, which means your subjects must have trust in you. How do you approach these explicit shoots? How do you make sure everyone is comfortable?
The process of conception of the series starts with an idea that I then try to expand and mould into a concept. I then look for a suitable location and start talks with models that I need and want to work with to realise the idea. The model must be an active part of the project that I envisioned. Therefore, the model for me is always the subject, never the object, which is why I refuse to pay the models.
You been in photography for a while now. What are most valuable lessons you learned in your career?
Photography has been a part of my life since my childhood, but in the past ten years, I have been pursuing it intensely, to the point that it has become a part of my everyday life, even though I’m not a pro photographer, nor do I wish to become one. All I want to do is create. Ten years ago, something just clicked inside me, when I had to pour out my feelings and thoughts, and it was photography that enabled me to do it. Eventually, I became so engrossed in photography that it became the only medium through which I express myself. I realise that without perseverance and without staying true to myself, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.