Austrian photographer Robert Rutöd’s (1959) works manifest an ability to spot the extraordinary and absurd in the everyday life, which make our routine lives so unique. His decisive moments sometimes are so surreal that the viewer is willing to doubt their authenticity. As explained by the author himself, it is a result of a hard work. Rutöd has published several photography books, as well as directed films. Last year his photographs have been awarded the main prize at The New York Photo Awards under the category Fine Art.
What’s your secret to being in the right time at the right place to get such shots out of daily boredom?
Actually, there’s nothing very secretive about it. There have been many times when I was at the wrong place and returned home with empty hands. Patience is probably the most important virtue for getting good photos. Sometimes people get the wrong idea about the way that my work comes about. They think the pictures are snapshots, which were taken quickly, from the hip. The opposite is true! Over the years I have developed a certain flair for whether something would make a good photo, which at first glance perhaps appears to be banal scenery. Then I suddenly become very persistent and watch something for hours while other people are just passing it by. There is something in this which is gaining increasing fascination for photography in a world which keeps turning faster and faster: the reversal of acceleration.
What is your own daily schedule as a photographer?
Breakfast with my wife, then my schedule is flexible, social media activities, email correspondence, festival applications, Internet research, reading magazines and blogs, viewing and processing photos, postponing writing a text for my next book to the next week – and if there’s time left: taking photos.
You must have experienced a lot of weird situations in your career as a photographer. Tell us the most bizarre one!
I have been visiting trade fairs for nearly ten years to take photos for my project Fair(y) Tales. On a cold Saturday afternoon in September 2011, morticians from all over Europe met at a fair for cemeteries, burial requirements, tombs and religious items. As soon as you entered the exhibition hall you were put in a good mood: Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega bleared from the loud speakers. There was a mortician’s fashion show on the programme. Four uniformed men carried a casket along the catwalk, flanked by two women dressed in black, their arms perkily on their hips. It was a powerful sight, and certainly one of my happiest photographic moments!
You have published quite a few books. How do you get them published?
To date, I have self-published all of my books. With my film projects, I often spent a lot of time waiting. I wanted to avoid that with my photography books. Also, in recent years they pass you over in publishing houses, amongst other things they are outsourcing their risks now, and they demand a relatively high share of costs on the part of the photographer. My most recent project, Right Time Right Place, caught the attention of two publishing houses from Germany, not least because of the award from the New York Photo Awards. I’m excited about the outcome of the discussions which have recently been taking place.
What project are you working on now?
At the moment I’m working on my next publication, which should come out in 2013. Inspired by the film of the same name by Luis Buñuel, the photo book Milky Way tells the story of a 7,000km long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. I have also recently been thinking about making a feature film within the next three to four years, which consists of 15 to 20 short films. I have been thinking about ideas for this for a long time. The latest developments in the field of HD camera technology make me very confident that such a project can now be undertaken without a large budget.