Koudelka – Shooting Holy Land

Koudelka - Shooting Holy Land by Gilad Baram screening at The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. February 2017Hot off the heels of seeing Don McCullin came the opportunity to see Josef Koudelka, perhaps my biggest hero and influence.

I saw somewhere that The Institute of Contemporary Arts was screening the film Shooting Holy Land by Gilad Baram, a documentary that follows Koudelka while he takes photographs for his book ‘Wall‘.

Even more amazingly, some of the screenings would include a Q&A with Baram & Koudelka.

So I bought tickets for Carla and I.

Immediately.

Obviously.

Now I am definitely not web illiterate, so I am sure the ICA website was unclear…but somehow I bought tickets for the wrong screening. The one I wanted included a full Q&A, but the one I ended up with only had a ‘possible’ introduction by them.

To say I was disappointed would be a huge understatement.

But he was there…in the same room…and he said ‘Hi’ to everyone and ‘Thank you for coming’ and ‘I hope you enjoy the film’!

That would have to do.

And, quite frankly, it didn’t matter.

The documentary was so incredibly intimate, I felt like I was there…it was wonderful.

Inspiring.

Touching.

Inspiring. Reassuring. Inspiring. Beautiful…and did I say inspiring?

Having had a documentary made about me, it makes you think. You realise how personal it can be and how vulnerable you are, not only in front of a camera but behind one. You are truly exposed, hidden behind your lens, opening yourself up to your surroundings. The saying is, after all, that photographers hide behind their cameras…I can tell you that a tiny camera is absolutely no protection at all when you are there, open to everything…the energies coursing through nature as you photograph her, or the hurt, love suffering, joy, anger and pain of the people you are photographing. There is absolutely no hiding. It is, therefore, no surprise to me that I am so exhausted, twitchy, emotional and vulnerable after a day of taking photographs.

Throughout the film – and this was its strength – we continuously saw deep into Koudelka’s soul. His narrative and voice over may have been almost stunted and punchy but it contrasted beautifully with the fluidity of the footage of him lost in his own world of creating photographs. The way he would suddenly sheepishly and shyly acknowledge us spoke volumes, and was truly heart warming.

My hero was there, in front of me, exposed, naked and I could see into his soul.

See his inner workings.

And still, he remained my hero – artistically, photographically and morally.

Yes – truly, truly inspiring.

Please visit the film’s website and watch it if you can. It is absolutely wonderful.

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