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Interview with photographer Stan Raucher

 Palm Sunday Smoke and Drizzle

Palm Sunday Smoke and Drizzle

F-Stop Magazine: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?

Stan Raucher: I grew up during the age of black and white television, Life magazine photo documentaries, and the publication of The Family of Man, but I pursued a career in science and became a Chemistry Professor at the University of Washington. I began to do photography in 2003 as a creative diversion from my academic endeavors, and I was delighted to explore those early influences.

F-Stop: The “Telling Stories” issue of F-Stop Magazine includes images from your project “Holy Week in Guatemala.” Can you tell us what led to this project?

SR: I visited Guatemala for two weeks in 2008 to take Spanish lessons and to photograph the elaborate Holy Week celebrations. Unfortunately, I was only able to capture one or two interesting images. I was so intrigued by these celebrations that I returned to Guatemala for Holy Week in 2015, this time better prepared and more aware of what I needed to do.

Easter Thursday Procession

Easter Thursday Procession

F-Stop: How do you choose what to photograph, what are you looking to capture?

SR: I’m interested in how people interact with one another and their surroundings, and I strive to capture these moments in a candid fashion. I photograph in a very intuitive manner, which is always very intense. I need to immerse myself fully in this process — sometimes that’s inspired by photographing in a new location, and other times it’s enhanced by returning to the same location multiple times.

F-Stop: What do you hope people see or feel or perhaps learn when they look at your photographs?

SR: That depends on the body of work. This project is documentary in nature, and I want to convey the great sense of devotion, sacrifice and passion the participants display during their celebrations. For other work, such as my Metro series, my goal is to create evocative, richly layered images that invite the viewer to stop and reflect on the situation and then generate a personal narrative.

Virgin Mary and Volcan Agua

Virgin Mary and Volcan Agua

F-Stop: Do you have a favorite image in this series? If so, which one and why is it the image that speaks to you most?

SR: I like to think in terms of sequencing images to tell a story, with a beginning, middle and end, so it’s difficult to narrow things down to a single photo. The first and last images in this series — mysterious, filled with incense smoke and taken in the evening, with a young lad and an older musician — make fitting bookends. The image In the Shadow of Mary, where two women of different generations watch the procession as a shadow from the statue is cast on an ancient monastery wall is powerful and timeless. I’m also drawn to the incongruity of the image Virgin Mary and Volcan Agua, where a 17th Century Statue is carried through the narrow streets beneath the tangle of modern power lines, while Volcan Agua slumbers ominously in the background.

F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?

SR: I’ve been photographing on subway systems around the world during the past eight years, and I’m thrilled that a monograph of this work, Metro: Scenes from an Urban Stage, will be published by Daylight Books for release in Spring 2016. I also have several other long-term projects in the works.

Gathering Flowers

Gathering Flowers

F-Stop: What photographers or other artists inspire you?

SR: Many wonderful photographers inspire me, and the list includes Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Graciela Iturbide, W. Eugene Smith, Elliot Erwitt, Josef Koudelka, Garry Winogrand and Vivian Maier. Over the past decade, I was fortunate to have taken two workshops with the late Mary Ellen Mark in Oaxaca, and numerous workshops with Ernesto Bazan — those experiences greatly influenced my photographic sensibilities.

When it comes to music, I’m drawn to songs with lyric that tell a story, so Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell are at the top of my list.


For more of Stan Raucher’s work: stanraucher.com

Also published on Medium.

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