At profession I am a pilot of Lufthansa and travel a lot and I´m able to explore photographically some lesser known places as an ambitious amateur photographer. It´s a privileg for me to photograph people in foreign countries and cultures. I love to capture the impressions of daily life, portraits or even exciting moments in everyday life – in other words in the reportage photography or street photography.

©Ralf Finke_1001 NachtMy first priority as travelling photographer: Respect for the dignity of my protagonists and their consent to take pictures. To uphold the respect that should go without saying, but to ask for the consent is not always easy, because to the inhibition threshold to approach strangers, is often still the natural language barrier added. But a non-verbal communication with hands and gestures is mostly of help.

That’s what happened in Muscat in Oman, a dream for photographers looking for the Orient. Although the country has opened up to the West and is very easy to travel, it has in contrast to many booming Gulf states retained its oriental charm and offer fantastic motifs. When wandering through the sprawling Sultan Quabus Mosque, one of the most beautiful mosques in the world, which is at times open to non-Muslims, I catch sight of a young woman at an outbuilding window. To get in contact was impossible, but a smile while passing and a questioning look with the camera in hand was answered with a shy nod … a shot … a grateful glance from me … and she was gone. The whole thing took less than five seconds.

To take my time to literally immersed in a scene, is another recipe for my pictures. Of course, you will be recognized as non-native immediately and formally noted how you are observed, partly skeptical, partly interested. At the same time fades the impartiality of the people. I then sit down for a while somewhere and watch the people or try to start a conversation. After some time you will no longer perceived as an stranger and the people put down their embarrassment. Only then captivating, enthralling and authentic images are able to arise.©Ralf Finke_Manager

Or is it the unusual perspective showing seemingly commonplaces in a different way. The John Hancock Tower in Chicago was certainly photographed countless times. With its 457 meters, it is one of the tallest buildings in the United States and very impressive. The unusual perspective and the integration of a matching people in the scenery that is what it takes for the difference between a regular photo and a valuable photograph.

To keep the eyes open and in addition to what everbody see, to realize something special worth composing and taking a picture is always a challenge for me. Take the image from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul for instance. Even places that I have seen and visited many times receive with the eyes of a photographer a new charm.

Fotograf Ralf Finke mit Fine Art Druck auf Hahnemühle PapierAnd the best thing is when my images have been printed as fine art print on Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Paper. I have tried different photo papers, ultimately convince me only prints on Hahnemühle FineArt papers. My favorite here is Photo Rag ® 308. In my exhibition I could see high-end fine art prints made by my print provider Whitewall on the matt Hahnemühle Photo Rag® directly beside images on conventional photo paper. There is difference like night and day. The matt, slightly textured paper makes my motives alive, gives them an impressive plasticity that pulls the viewer directly into the motif. The brilliance, color gamut, contrast and color gradations make the finest details visible. That’s simply amazing and turn a good image into a work of art.

Ralf Finke

Pilot & ambitious travel photographer

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