Hengki Koentjoro is a fine art photographer based in Jakarta who specializes in black and white photography, both underwater and on land. Each of his photographs has a striking and almost surreal quality. Having been in love with his craft for over 30 years, primarily, his job deals with multimedia business specializing in corporate Videography. I had a chance to catch up with this extraordinary photographer to ask a series of interesting questions. Full interview below…
When learning photography through formal education. What kinds of techniques and skills do they teach you?
Hengki: Basically the knowledge of exposure through a system called ‘The Zone System‘ invented by the great Ansel Adam. We learned how to master visualization that is the art of seeing the final result, even before we take the photo. This method is used mostly if we venture into the world of black and white photography.
What prompted you to study in California, then return to Indonesia? Was that always the plan for you or was that an unexpected career path?
Hengki: Brooks is a famous photography school and I knew some Indonesians that studied there. The plan was to study audio visual to take advantage of the new industry of private TV that was booming during the late 80’s. So there was a slight change of career from photography to video/motion picture due to the heavy demand of TV professionals in Indonesia.
Now that you are venturing into middle-age, is there a different perspective in your work versus your photography in your younger years?
Hengki: When I was young, photography was more of a means to earn money, but now it is more [about] self expression. Now your sight is much clearer and you start to know your path or yourself better. You start to find your true style and with it certain unique styles immerse. There is a sense of purpose on every photo you take and it represents your character.
What do you wish to convey to your viewers through your photography?
Hengki: I love to create atmospheric photographs; a sense of mystery, mystic, as well as beauty of nature.
Many of your photographs have elements that are normally hard to capture on camera, i.e. water elements and mist. What is your secret to capturing these elements in a way that makes your presentation so strong?
Hengki: You just have to do it, find places with mist and study scuba diving. The important thing is the technique you learn from school, once you master ‘The Zone System’, you can apply it to anything.
What type of camera and which lenses do you use for your photography? Also, how do they help you capture the decisive moment?
Hengki: Now, I use mainly DSLR camera such as Canon and Nikon with mostly wide angle lens. Moments are not something you search, it will come to you if you open your eyes and never discriminate. Open your self up and moments will reveals themselves eventually.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
Why do you gravitate towards Black & White? Is it because monochromatic settings leave more space for shadows, lights and contrasts?
Hengki: It is more pliable to me, more freedom and easy to express myself better. I love to play the tones in B&W, just like Ansel Adam. The ability to create an atmosphere or mood are the trademark I’ve been practicing throughout my career.
What is the biggest goal you would like to achieve as you move further into your career?
Hengki: For now I just want to take photographs, maybe a book or two and a small gallery to manage during my old years.
Do you have any advice for people who are new to black and white photography?
Hengki: Learn to visualize or to look in B&W as well as the love to create photo with emotion.
To see more of Hengki’s photos, please visit this photographers cookie crumb trail below: