Call for Entries - All About Photo Awards 2020

Exclusive Interview with Sabine Weiss

Exclusive Interview with Sabine Weiss
Exclusive Interview with Sabine Weiss
All About Photo: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?

Sabine Weiss: "In 1942, I was 18. But I started taking photographs at a very young age with a small Bakelite camera I had bought with my savings. Ever since I was a little girl, I made my own contact prints using a small wooden chassis that I would place on my window and stabilize with kitchen salt."

AAP: Where did you study photography? With whom? How did you become photographers?

Sabine Weiss: "I am 18 when I start working at the Boissonas studio in Geneva, it was celebrating its 80th Birthday. From 1942 to 1945, I learn the photographic technique and how to use all the equipment that nowadays seem primitive. This is where I learn lighting, retouching, the practice of 18x24 and 24x30 view cameras, prepare baths and make deliveries for clients."

AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?

Sabine Weiss: "The first photograph that I loved was a crucifix placed on Saint-Pierre-de-Clages' church s altar in Switzerland, a small Norman church."

Sabine Weiss - Une rue  Naples

Sabine Weiss - Une rue Naples, 1955

AAP:What was your first paid assignment/job?

Sabine Weiss: "In 1945 I get my photographer's degree and I open my own studio in the center of Geneva. I undertake advertising, portraits and start documentary before relocating definitively to Paris in 1946. In 1952, at Vogue, Robert Doisneau discovers my photographs and offers me to join his Agency Rapho. I sign at the same time for Vogue a nine-year contract. In the United States, Charles Rado who represents the Rapho Agency in New York, supports my work and presents me to numerous American reviews for which I have worked for many years: Time, Life, New York Times, Newsweek, Town & Country, Fortune, Holiday, European Travel & Life, Esquire."

AAP: What or who inspires you?

Sabine Weiss: "Anything human and out of the ordinary."

Sabine Weiss - Paris

Sabine Weiss - Paris, 1955

AAP: How could you describe your style?

Sabine Weiss: "Always spontaneous but with a view for composition."

AAP: Do you have a favorite photograph or series?

Sabine Weiss: "My photographs are my children; I love them all! But at the moment I particularly like the photograph of the 'clochard gentleman' (gentleman hobo)."

AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?

Sabine Weiss: "I have worked with many different formats from 8/10 inches to 24x36 mm images and of course the 24x36 mm gave me more freedom to take spontaneous and candid photographs."

AAP: What is the influence of digital technology on your photography?

Sabine Weiss: "I don't use digital cameras for shooting. I use technology for scans and sometimes make large format prints for exhibitions."

Sabine Weiss - New York Underground

Sabine Weiss - New York Underground, 1962

AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images? For what purpose?

Sabine Weiss: "Yes, I have always done it very carefully, for myself, for the press, for books and exhibitions; and I am editing once again! I want to review all my contact sheets with a fresh look."

AAP: How do you choose your subjects?

Sabine Weiss: "At random, I don't choose; I photograph what strikes and touches me."

AAP: Can you explain the process that you use to set up a portrait?

Sabine Weiss: "Each portrait was done in a different way, depending of the situation: sometimes arranged, with flash, with candles."

AAP: Favorite(s) photographer(s)?

Sabine Weiss: "Marc Riboud."

Sabine Weiss - La petite Egyptienne

Sabine Weiss - La petite Egyptienne, 1983

AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?

Sabine Weiss: "To keep a personal point of view, no matter the technique."

AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?

Sabine Weiss: "Not take enough distance with his photographs and want to go too fast."

AAP: What are your projects?

Sabine Weiss: "After the big exhibition in Paris at the Salon de la Photo, another one in December/January at the Lumiere Brothers Photo Gallery in Moscow and in 2015/2016 other exhibitions in France, for the month of photography in Nevers, the biennial of image in Nancy..."

AAP: Your best memory as a photographer?

Sabine Weiss: "So many good memories, encounters, unforeseen events."

AAP: Your worst souvenir as a photographer?

Sabine Weiss: "One day when the flashes didn't trigger."

AAP:The compliment that touched you most?

Sabine Weiss: "One day a woman came to my house and told me: 'the photograph of the little Egyptian girl, I want it, I can't live without it anymore.'"

Sabine Weiss - Je suis un cheval

Sabine Weiss - Je suis un cheval, Espagne, 1954

AAP: Did someone or something change your way of thinking?

Sabine Weiss: "No."

AAP:The award that touched you most?

Sabine Weiss: "The French National Order of Merit I received in 2010."

AAP: Is there another job you could have done?

Sabine Weiss: "All the manual trades I came to know."

AAP: Your favorite photo book?

Sabine Weiss: "'The Family of Man' from Edward Steichen and so many more."

AAP: An anecdote that comes to your mind?

Sabine Weiss: "I started photography in 1942, there would be too much to tell!"

AAP: Anything else you would like to share?

Sabine Weiss: "I'd love to come to the USA for a show!!!"

Sabine Weiss - 14 Juillet, Paris

Sabine Weiss - 14 Juillet, Paris, 1954

Sabine Weiss - Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Sabine Weiss - Jardin des Plantes, Paris, 1952

Sabine Weiss - L'homme qui court, Paris

Sabine Weiss - L'homme qui court, Paris, 1953

Sabine Weiss - Malte

Sabine Weiss - Malte, 1955


  Sabine Weiss
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