In parallel, the Leica Gallery LA is presenting Personalities, by Steffen Keil. Both exhibitions will be on display from May 14 to June 14, 2015. We had a talk with Yariv Milchan about his intention, the mixture of colour and black and white photographs, and about the power of nature:
In your Water Works series, we can see that the power of nature – the sky and water dominate all the compositions. Humans or human traces appear – if at all – as tiny details… What was your intention with this series?
I’ve always been interested in looking at what’s around me and in figuring out if I could see things in a different way. Every moment is unique. It will never be repeated. Everything is constantly evolving around us and if you don’t pay attention you just miss it. We live in a fast, forward-moving world, and connecting to the nature around you is almost like a reconnection to yourself and your life, and it puts things in the right perspective. There are bigger forces at play around us that sometimes feel supernatural; and maybe unconsciously this is what I am responding to when I take photos. I didn’t go out with the intention of doing a series around this theme. But when I started editing my images I noticed a common thread. So I wouldn’t say it was intentional. Maybe instinctive is a better word.
In some of your images, clear details almost disappear leaving a rather abstract composition of colours, light and shadow, above and below. It doesn’t appear to be about documenting reality, but rather sensations and the impression of an overwhelming landscape. If so is your approach an emotional one or do you have a special “message” in mind when photographing?
I always have one of my Leica cameras with me. I really don’t go out with a specific purpose in mind, because most of the time I don’t know what I’ll see. So yes, when I take a photo, it is more about how it feels than a rational decision about something I want to say. If it moves me I shoot it. Sometimes things reveal themselves later. Sometimes, as I’m taking a photo, I know why I’m taking it; but often I figure it out later.
Do you love or fear water?
Haha! I love water!
You mix colour and black and white images. Do you decide to shoot in colour or b/w before you take the picture?
That’s interesting because I shoot with the Leica M and the Monochrom. The Monochrom, as you know, can only shoot black and white, so when I take that camera colour is not an option. I go through phases when I just feel like shooting black and white; but in general I would say that there are moments when I know, as I take the photo, that this is a black and white image. The use of colour for me is specific. It can’t be just about the colour, it needs to add to the image. For example, the image of the yellow raft on the sea (“All alone”) would feel completely different in black and white. It wouldn’t be as strong.
Which camera and lens did you use?
I shoot with the Leica M system. I use the Leica M and the Leica Monochrom and absolutely love these cameras! I always have one on me. I think that most of my friends have probably never seen me without one of my Leica cameras! I mainly use 4 lenses. The APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 Asph, the Summicron-M 28 mm f/2 Asph, the Summilux-M 35 mm f/1.4 Asph, and the Summicron-M 35 mm f/2.