Questions by: el Berndo, answers by Soodlepoodle

What is it all about with that Reingretchen?
"Crime story book covers"- okay, sounds like some nerdy special interest thing- but the multi-purposed "project"? - a mumbled, undecided attempt to launch something like that ol´ photo book against the walls of the ubiquitous bulwarks of online stock photography agencies?

Soodlepoodle: Yeah, I admit it looks like that from a far- but this impression is somehow... too small. Reingretchen is far bigger than that. It deals a lot with literature, the process of inspiration as such. The way of finding a new story to write with the help of a simple foto. And it gives a good hard kick up the backside of the ongoing culture machinery that struggles to survive at any means while being faced with the devastations of the coming internet copy-and-poste culture. But that insight in the dimensions of Reingretchen developed gradually by working on it for now eight months. The first and foremost impact, I may even say: benefit of that Reingretchen thing for me as a creative artist is a case of big luck: some long missed reason to burn for something new, something unknown that excites me the big way.

Sounds really great. Can you give us some details?

Sure (laughing): the greatest luck yet is finding your own already accomplished work suddenly being lit by a new light- a new idea of dealing with thousands of photos, all taken without caring of some client, done with no other purpose than pure delight in catching those sights on film. A brand new flavour of my archive arose like a bonanza. A photographic oeuvre that comprises more than thirty years of steadily taking pictures. For once the big chance to review all with new plans in hands and mind.

Some dusty archive turning into a delicious well of inspiraton?

Indeed- that´s it. Fantastic beyond compare!

So how come to suddenly catch sight of your pics as fodder for crime story books?

A perfect case of serendipity, in retrospective. I always get weak when some new exciting idea comes into my life, a fresh spark that makes everything feel new. Theres no stopping me creating when something like that comes my way. Totally by chance to slip into crime story covers by the way: I sent off a postcard to exactly that person writing a crime story about the pictured "crime-scene", the environmental setting on the card. He replied with a confirmation about that fact- and that just started the whole game (laughing).

Ah- I get it: with a reply like that you suddenly imagined yourself as a crime story cover man. What happened next?

Being a complete greenhorn when it comes to book covers I started out researching existing cover art. With the outcome to get some uncosy feeling about how the editors nowadays deal with covers, create the very recognisable "modern" look to get attraction in the store or at amazon, I first learned and than was frowning on the usual way of getting them together: its often done as a neck-breaking collage of easy-to-get stock footage. For nearly no money for the creator. I heard about an editor paying up to embarrasing 50 Euros royalty for a cover of a book.. I also found a vast gap in content between motive on the cover and story inside- often almost achingly disparate and often without any explicable connections- even after having read the whole story! Also the prevailing attention-seeking shaping, design, the obvious purpose of quickly-nailed-together-for-sale put me into bad mood in the same way. This does no good to literature even it being crime stories I thought to myself.

This feeling of unease clearly stems from my profession as CD dealer for nearly two decades. There I learned that high-quality music not only deserves a package equalling the sounds inside in esthetical terms, it even felt that packaging and music together should melt into being one outstanding piece of art. Both should breath the same breath. With the crime story culture I met during my research it was the exact opposite: since they´re solely built to be consumed in vast numbers there is little attention to the lenghty shaping of the cover art work. Instead I feel that crime stories could be a lot more than they are regarded as now. I found a Paul Auster thought:"In best case crime stories are one of the most fascinating forms of story telling. The notion of every sentence being crucial, that every word can be of paramount importance pushes the author to top performance."

The next thing: I was horrified about the the total devastion of the pricing level for photographs, even if they were used as covers! Further I was deeply disappointed about the ways editors provide semselves with photo/graphic "material" once having decided to produce a certain manuscript. In my opinion this modern technique only leads to the erasure of the professional photographer as we used to know.

I fear that you won´t be able to change that..

I´m totally aware of that. Therefore I don´t pursue any kind of business plan with this project (laughs). I´m dealing with a rare thing in all that universe of price-performance-related thinking. The etheric beauty of imperfection, of some phenomenom in transit, of leaving a work in the state of progress only to watch its beauty and power to inspire. Kind of well, a stairway to the unknown. And time as a factor to let new aspects, ideas and new sights on life.

Some kind of self-prepared humus soil for The New?

As surprising as it might be: exactly thats the point. No more bloody superfluous photo book to satisfy vanity or a boring decent collection of banality but one to be in position to inspire other artists, writers or authors. To induce some radiant aura of inspiration. To new stories or even novels and movies. All this might be done at the end of this year as book. Only by then the full impact will be accomplished for there all titles and author names will be visible.

Ok- a book. To do something like that there is the need for know-how-to-do-it. And aspiring a role as crime story inspiration well there also should be some acquaintance with this literary genre for not getting it the wrong way. Are you a "savant" and this finally is the hour to get your wisdom on stage? (laughing)

Even if I like reading ever since youth there where only few crime stories on my list. Online-articles, blogs, journalism concerning culture and critisism, novels, nonfiction, then and now some photographic stuff, in my twens some science fiction - yes. So I´m working at an introduction ti crime stories right now. Thoughts and themes are the subjects of those chapters. I really slipped into it (laughing).

back to menue/home

With seven "chapters" already published - seems like a gradually emerging masterplan?

Not at all! After having created about two dozens of covers in a first rush I gradually became aware of the different aspects of doing crime story covers:

the way to cut the raw photograph. Of course there´s the need to do it bookwise as a vertical frame. This was a new to my photography as I mainly do it horizontal pics, mainly of convenient=anatomic reasons: you have to move your arms not too much to do it. In these chapters I always show some tutorial aspects like before-and-after, how I prolong some single-coloured parts of the pic to get some space for header, or how much of the original frame I actually use- just look at the pics on the right:

The second chapter is dealing with the different kinds of photos: the colourful ones, the more graphic pics, blurred ones and how they could individually fit into the project. There are also some examples shown (here on the left).

Then there are the different "species" of pics. I separate those feeling like film stills from those doing more symbolic tasks regarding the story. Then there are some pics which stand for the idea of the whole book like icons. Also some pics work as some enigmatic hooks.

The creative process of naming those photos to complete the book cover and therfore the idea of getting from mere pics to a somehow more valid story.

Going along with the covers there is always some design work dealing with the marketing or public relations of reingretchen. I not only started to think about doing some quiz these pics as a side-effect are good for new splash screens.

On the "story side" I very much enjoy the recherche. Starting at one point, mostly in relation to a certain motif I spread out into the internet and for hours open up tab after tab. For me its some kind of premium self-education- discovering fascinating facts or trivia, learning about human history, psychology, science, literature, language, sport, weird inventions like the recently disvovered "robot hall of fame", infotainment at its best that even affects my creative work- superb!!

-to be continued-

Here´s an overview of the 128 cover drafts done since August 2012