Immune Media's Questions for Sven Creutzmann:
The expressions of the field workers are very unique. Were the portraits in the sugarcane
For me the unwritten subtitle of the machetero essay is: "Don't move, stay right where you are!" None
of the images is staged, directed or set up. I walked among them, and when I saw something interesting,
I just told (actually I almost yelled ;-) at the worker: "No te muevas...Quédate así mismo," and so they
did, amazingly stoic. I did not tell them what to do, how or where to look. This way we obtain an intimate
look into the faces and eyes that reflect reality.
Can you describe the first time you ever got paid for doing photography?
I was still an amateur and had a pro friend who couldn't cover an assignment for DPA (German press agency)
because he had a date with a girl he had been after for awhile. So I shot the assignment for him and gave
him the film the next morning. The pictures got widely published with his credit, because of course his bosses
at DPA couldn't know that he had not taken the photos. [My friend] paid me the corresponding money.
How much Photoshop is too much?
I am just referring to journalism now: Everything that was allowed to do in the darkroom, is okay to do in
Photoshop. Taking away or adding elements, though, is a no-no. I find the discussions nowadays a bit weird:
Editors ask for raw files and compare them with the Photoshopped image-
Did anybody ever ask Sebastiao Salgado to turn in his negatives?
Did anybody ever ask Nachtwey to print his black & white prints only on grade 3 paper?
Do we want to erase Eugene Smith's photos from our photographic memory because he did a lot of work in the
darkroom; would the pictures have had the impact they had if he had not done this?
So I think that these darkroom techniques, that we always have accepted back then (and still do), should be as
well accepted today for color / digital photography.
Everyone's a photographer these days. Will photography survive as a profession?
A professional lives on their conceptual photography. He/she thinks, plans, and makes strategic moves to realize
his/her vision. He/she dedicates his/her brain, his/her heart and every fiber of the body to that vision. The
amateur cannot and will not do that, and thus cannot do a story for Newsweek or Stern; no amateur will be
assigned to cover the President's inauguration.
But: Of course, any amateur can, on occasion, take better pictures than a pro. It has always been like that.
In workshops I have often seen amateurs "outshoot" the pros. But making good photos here and there does
not mean that one can make a living on it or do it "on demand." Being a pro and surviving as such is not only
making good pictures, it's also about commitment to a lifestyle and it is, despite all the adventures we see and
live, a lot of sacrifice.
Would you rather the US lift its travel embargo to Cuba, or travel back in time to ride alongside Che
Guevara on his year-long 1951 motorcycle trip across South America?
Even though I love to ride motorbikes, I'd rather have the US lift the embargo (not only the travel ban)...a much
more interesting story would develop. It would mean substantially more income for Cuba...the government would
relax and lower its defenses...now in the position to have to prove to its people it's capable of dealing with the
difficult issues (since it can no longer blame the US embargo for every deficiency).
Plus, if I could travel back in time, I'd prefer for it to be so I could cover Castro's rebels fight in the very beginning
of the revolution, back in 1956.
What's one thing you've learned from your time in cuba, or, one thing you've learned from the Cuban
Enjoy every moment of the Here and Now. Don't get stuck in thinking too much about the tomorrow. (Though I
have to admit- that even though I understand the benefits of this way of thinking, making it my own reality is a
rather hard piece of work).