“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.

“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.

Specializing in versatility, Austrian photographer Wolf Silveri tells of some of the recent projects he has been working on and why visualizing environmental issues has fast become his focus.

Beginning his photographic career working as an assistant at opera houses, Wolf Silveri quickly began exploring his own, personal passions within the framework of visual art and art direction. Stating that photographing people and making a connection with his muses is equally as important as the final product, his work has gone from striped back, beautifully lit portraits to artistic and forward thinking compositions depicting environmental issues. 

Dedicated to creating and curating work that is impactful and that “looks like sugar but tastes bitter” his belief in photography as a way of transcending language barriers Wolf sees photography as a medium in relaying a message and provoking questions. 

 

Read his full interview and see a range of projects here.

“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu

You write, “I specialize in versatility” can you tell us a little more about what this means to you and your craft?

I have always had a lot of interests and enjoy trying new things. At the beginning of my career, I had three different websites to keep my portrait, architecture, and performance photography separate. I then realized that it made sense to share my craft as a whole. It enriches me immensely to have a new challenge every week; that’s my motivation.

How did you start out in photography?

I studied stage design and also worked as an assistant at an opera festival. I started as a photographer at opera houses and theaters. After my contract ended, it was crystal clear that being a photographer was my calling. I was drawn to this work as a production photographer, lurking in the dark, feeling and capturing the moments no one else sees.

“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu
“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu

Have you learnt any lessons that you didn’t think you would have through your photography?

Yes, keep your blinders on. If you are passionate about something, then you have to show it and live it. You can’t let yourself be distracted by the tastes and opinions of others. You have to stay real, raw, and vulnerable.

Since 2018, you have been focused on different environmental projects, creating visual depictions of human environmental impact. Can you tell us how this started and why this was something you began exploring?

These projects are a labor of love. It’s my new way of communicating. It has helped me evolve into other creative ventures.

It all started with a picture, an idea – a bottle with the fish head, from the “We’ll Sea” project. I built the fish, arranged it to photograph it. Day by day, new ideas came flooding into my head, and they developed into this series. I have received many good reactions along the way and realized that I had found a niche for myself. Since then, I’ve noticed that I prefer to work on projects that have a message or provoke questions.

“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu
“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu

Has there been one defining project or issue that had a profound impact on you, personally or professionally?

Yes, the project about my late father. It’s a very private series, and initially, I intended it as such. However, as the series grew, so did my courage to show it.
After the publication, many people reached out to me who had similar experiences. This project showed me the power of photography as a medium. Sharing this highly personal side of myself ultimately helped me bring my own life experiences to a close.

“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu

Your photography tackles important global and environmental issues without the traditional imagery and a deeply artistic approach. Why do you think photography and art direction are such powerful tools for change?

Photography has the remarkable ability to communicate on many levels without the need for words – to convey messages much more directly – to overcome language barriers.

The world is small and we are all concerned with the consequences of environmental degradation. Now that we’re connected on social media on a daily basis, we can align. By sharing relatable images, people can be brought together on these important issues. I try to do my part.

A famous colleague once said: “In the past, the job of photography was to show reality, now its job is to ask questions.”

How do you begin to formulate the ideas and create your playful and emotive images, especially within your “We are all in this together” series. What is your creative process here?

Sometimes a sketch is where it all starts, like for my next project. There will be a lot of detail and precision in the preparation, so I’ll make a storyboard. But most of the pictures I create come from the gut and are usually photographed in the moment.
I have several globes in different sizes in my flat and all kinds of props that I have collected. So the first idea gives rise to the second, and so on. I love to be completely free, creatively, and this is the case, especially with the series, “We are in this Together.”

“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu
“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu

Your work is often emotive, yet playful. Is this ever a conscious decision? How do these two themes, for you, interact?

The two themes go hand in hand. The way I work, it’s essential to create a big drop, appealing colours, and relevant content that is almost sad to shocking. It has to look like sugar but tastes bitter. Only then are people willing to try it. We all see so many images every day and are so saturated by them that reality sometimes no longer seems accurate.

“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu
“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu
“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu

Prior to this collection, your previous body’s of work, including “People” and “Glass Portraits”, were intrinsic to people and capturing their individuality and essence with beautiful form, light and composition. Why was this so inspiring to you?

The portrait is considered one of the great challenges in photography, and I don’t disagree. Taking someone’s photograph requires intimacy, respect, and trust on both sides of the camera. I never force anyone to do anything in my portraits; I don’t distort anyone. I only guide. I want to capture real looks, whether they are happy, sad, or disapproving. Over the years, I’ve developed tricks to achieve this. Most of the time, people don’t even notice that I’ve already got what I wanted. But sometimes, it takes a bit longer for my counterpart to give up their spontaneous smile. I’ve noticed that the best pictures are often the last or the first.

The “Glass Portraits” are my intuitive reaction to the shyness of many people. Everyone found it an incredible liberation that this protective wall was between us, that they can’t see the camera. I am fascinated by how the structured panes dissolve the individual, recomposing it for the picture with the person always remaining legible. I am still adding to this series…

“If you are convinced of something, then you have to show it and live it.” Wolf Silveri : An Interview.
Photo: Wolf Silveri. www.silveri.eu

Wolf Silveri is a Austrian freelance photographer specializing in portrait, performance, and architecture. Based now in Vienna and Munich, Wolf’s recent work focused on different environmental projects with bold, artistic visuals.

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