Friday, March 14, 2014

Photographer Series #5: jonnoshotkatemoss

One of my favorite young photographers is Jonno Rattman. 

Jonno trained as a photographer and printer. He has printed photographs and ephemera that accompanied the two-hundred-photograph Diane Arbus retrospective organized by the Jeu de Paume in Paris that opened in October 2011. Since then, he has worked extensively with other renowned photographers and archives, cataloging works, digitizing libraries, curating shows, designing books, and preparing prints for sale and exhibition. He is currently printing major exhibitions for Rosalind Solomon, Gilles Peress and Wafaa Bilal. Jonno also works with books and new media, managing pre-press production at Yolanda Cuomo Design, where he co-developed his first iPad App.

Drawing on all of these experiences to bring a wide range of skills to his own photographic work, Jonno engages the cultures, histories, and traditions contesting the American Idea. He has traditionally found a great deal of inspiration on the streets, which is why we here at were so interested in what he may find.

Jonno splits his time between New York and his native Pennsylvania, where he has been guided, in part by such brilliant photographers as Larry Fink and Bill Lowenburg - both of whom have brought an integrity to their photography that is hard to find. Just as Larry pioneered, Jonno uses flash as an important artistic tool, bringing light into his mostly black and white images in a way that captures a truth in a moment that many others would miss. I have always found his work to be completely honest - both to himself and his subject.

iskm: You have been guided and worked with so many incredible photographers already in your short career. How do you strike the balance between their work and finding your own voice?
Untitled #8: Jonno Rattman

Jonno Rattman (JR): I live in the shadow of heavies. I don't want to ride on anyone's back; at the same time, I work with people I admire and who are essential to the history of photography ... and my own development as an artist. I'm just a human being, rather than some clawing creature. I aim for sincerity, clarity, and quality in everything I do - I think that’s recognized by my mentors. I hope it comes across in my pictures. But I do remember talking with Larry about this, and he told me something to the effect of ‘I couldn’t make your pictures and you couldn’t make mine; we’re not the same person.’ I think that gets at the core of subjective photography in this context – there’s inherently the individual artists’ psychology behind it.

iskm: Why do you generally prefer black and white instead of color in your work?
JR: There's a Szarkowski quote in the introduction to Eggleston's Guide that really struck me when I first read it and continues to resonate; much color photography "might be described as black-and-white photographs made with color film, in which the problem of color is solved by inattention." I'd rather not make a black and white pictures in color; I think I can count on one hand my pictures that really work in color, in Szarkowski's sense. So I'll leave color to the colorists, who I deeply admire. Some might call me old fashioned - I'll take it. I love the 19th and 20th century masters of our medium. I'll take interesting over hyper-intellectual any day.

iskm: How/why did you select the source image/s that you did?
JR: I was out with friends one night near Columbus Circle when I saw Kate walking about in almost nothing but boots, looping on a video window display of a high-end store. Evidently she's the face of their brand. I took note of where I was and planned to return. When I went back several days later, she was still pacing around her white box. That's when I took my picture. I wanted to make an image that was interesting for its own merit, regardless of celebrity. I found Kate; I found a frame; I found a look and I put it together, hopefully in an arrangement that can live beyond its reference.

Most importantly check out his image:
iskm: What did you to your chosen kate moss image and why? Is that a reflection of you? Do you take many self-portraits?
JR: I'm really not so interested in process as much as result, perhaps because I've tried to internalize my practice so that I can work quickly without too much thinking or distraction. To achieve the results I did, I mixed hand-held flash and available light with a longer shutter than I might normally use to bring out the screen image. And yes, it is me. Sometimes a picture isn't anything without putting yourself or something of yourself in it. Look at Friedlander. I'm not obsessed with self-portraiture or any kind of narcissus complex, but for me, there wasn't going to be a picture without bringing in another element, so I introduced myself to Kate for the first time. I don't think we'll be seeing each other again.

Still image from KateMoss wears the 5050: Mario Testino
iskm: How do you feel your approach to photography affected your submission to ishotkatemoss?
 JR: I want my photographs to have an internal dynamism and narrative force, whether I'm making portraits, pictures on the street, or elsewhere. I want to make evocative images. If you see the video, you'll know what I mean by walking around in almost nothing but boots - but during the loop there's a close-up shot or two, and that's what I chose as my source image - it was the least bland, most evocative moment. I'm more focused on making interesting pictures than 'nice' ones.

If you so wish you can view the KateMoss wears the 5050 video that Jonno is referring to. 

iskm: Which photographer/s would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?
JR: I'd love to see Sylvia Plachy and Larry Fink each contribute something. Sylvia has done wonderful work with surfaces and detrital images that surprise and delight. Her work is just wonderful. Larry's pictures mix beauty and humor, curiosity and sedition. He's done the celebrity circuit and has showcased its vanities.

More great suggestions as to who should participate! I would enjoy seeing Sylvia and Larry attempting to get to the root (of the idea) of Kate. In the meantime, more information on Jonno’s work can be found at and you dear reader, just like Jonno, can observe, slow down, shoot and submit!

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