Since the first issue of the Glow In The Dark magazine in 2005 publisher Thomas Reitmayer constantly delivers a unique 50/50 mix of music and skateboarding on a d.i.y. basis. Indeed the GLW/DRK appears very unsteadyily. However you can trust on the matters inside. Apart from written content the artwork and the photos of the magazine are always highly notable. In the past I had longer conversations with friends about the GLW/DRK that often dealt more with the design than with articles themselves.
While planning our series on visual arts we received an email from GLW/DRK headquater about the upcomming photo book „Listen To Your Heart - The Photography of Thomas Reitmayer“. Thomas asked us to announce his book in our news sektion, needless to explain that I got back to him with a bunch of questions.
There were so many HC kids putting out their own photo books in the last few years. What can you tell me about „listen to your heart - the photography of thomas reitmayer"?
I seriously do not follow anything most "HC kids" are doing, and I neither consider myself a "kid" anymore, nor am I particularly "hardcore". There is no hidden meaning and no secret agenda behind the book (apart from the fact that the title is a Roxette reference, which anybody with a halfway decent musical taste should know anyway...), it's just a collection of photos that hopefully a few people will appreciate, as much as it a document of a few years in my life. While it certainly is not about competing with other photographers, one of the main motivations was to flip the bird at all the jerks with digicams and online blogs posting every pixel stored on their overpriced equipment. Good old Tim Yohannon from Maximum Rocknroll once said that it's great that everybody can put out a record, the only problem is that everybody DOES. The same applies to photography. I love to see certain art forms become more and more democratic in the sense that you don't need high class education to just fucking do it, but point-and-click does not make you a photographer. Every primate with expensive camera equipment can make a lame band look good, but that's not the result I am struggling for. Pennie Smith's photo of Paul Simonon smashing his bass to pieces on the album cover of "London Calling" is timeless and iconic, putting several gigabytes of random images online on Flickr or Photobucket isn't.
I always associated the name Thomas Reitmayer with music and skateboarding. Your upcoming book consists of music photographs and not of skateboarding images. So what is the fascination of live music photography to you in contrast to skate photography?
I think it's great that my name gets associated with anything at all, and even better if it's two of the greatest things ever. But to answer your question, I never thought about the contrast. It's just a question of knowing your limits. I have WAY MORE band photos than skate pictures, and I know that I am technically just not good enough to shoot photos of skateboaders that (a) would do them and their tricks and justice, and (b) would satisfy me personally. To me, it's about respect. When I go to a show, I have 30 minutes or so to adapt and adjust, to watch the band, the light, the crowd, and then take it from there. Skateboarding is a different beast. It would be fucked up to make somebody do a trick and maybe not be able to capture the trick, the spot, AND the person within let's say five seconds. I would much rather stick to what I know I CAN do, instead of letting my ego get in the way.
Why did you become photographer and not musican? What attracts you more in taking music photosgraphs as art than making music by yourself?
I don't consider myself a photographer at all. I just happen to own two cameras and use them, and I would like to believe that I have become fairly good at this. Still, it's not "art" or whatever, it's just photography. I love it, this is why I do it. And I do not want to limit my outlets for creative expression, so I'm afraid I'm unable to answer this question.
As publisher of the GLW/DRK magazine you work with live action photos as well as contrived portraits. In which cases do you perfer live photos for the layout and in which cases you prefer contrived portraits? Why?
A good photo is a good photo, and it makes no difference to me whether or not there is some jerk holding an instrument. When I shoot photos myself, I always try to capture the "soul" of what I am looking at, as corny as it might sound. A band like His Hero Is Gone never was about press photos and posed portraits, they were about rocking out, sweating, and screaming, and this is just one example. But then again, when you think of Minor Threat, the one photo that always comes to your mind is the cover for their self titled 12", because there is a certain rawness to that picture that goes hand in hand with the rawness of the music. I try not to over-rationalize these things. In the age of the digital camera, everybody can shoot great photos. So what's your excuse if you suck?
Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration is where you find it. Right now my influences include coffee, old jazz records, architecture, old found black and white photography, tagging, the need to eat versus not wanting to work a real job, the feeling of skateboard under my feet, abandoned industrial areas, the sunshine, dogs, and more coffee. All of this is constantly changing.
Last question: a funny story that happened to you while holding a camera in your hands?
The funniest thing that has probably happened to me in the context of photography was the shooting I did with GodSentUs (and amazing and ridiculously underrated band!) that involved them wearing ski masks and skulls in a traditional Kaffeehaus in my city of Wien. Look at the photo and imagine the looks we got. [benni]