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Artist: Felix Lupa
Interview by Omar Manini

1.    Something about your biography…
2.    What is ‘Photography’ for you?
3.    How do you face the creation process?
4.    Which are the most important difficulties to fulfil your ideas/dreams?
5.    Why do you portray real life? What do you try to fix on your photos?
6.    Haven’t you ever thought to steal a little of  the other people’s intimacy?

7.    Film or digital photography?
8.    You often use details, foregrounds, … why?
9.    The sense of lights and shades in your work: how do you combine these elements?
10.    Can you counsel us a work of yours to understand really Felix Lupa poetics?

1-I was born in 1972 in the Ukraine, then of the Soviet Union. I was acquainted with photography at a very early age, as my father used to develop and print his pictures at home.
In 1978 I emigrated together with my parents from the Soviet Union to Israel. The rest of our family stayed on in the Soviet Union. A new,and quite different life began for us.
Absorption in the new country was rather hard .Warm and sheltered childhood in the fold of loving grand -parents , uncles and aunts gave way to a race for survival. Conditions in the new country obliged my parents to work  at two jobs in order to safeguard their future in their new country. I thus found myself alone at home from morning to evening, and being a curious and inquisitive child of six, I preferred to wander around in the streets, learn the new language, get to know people of all sorts, and, generally, learning to make my own way in life. Soon I got to know the street, its laws, and the people who inhabited it. The schooling I got during those early years rendered me a great service later in life.
At the age of 24 with quite a mileage in photography I decided to register in a photography school.  I wanted to sort myself out, to see where I was going with my life, and with photography. By then it was already clear to me that photography was for me neither a hobby , nor a profession , but rather a way of life.
In a short course of several months I excelled in composition studies, laboratory work, black and white etc. On graduating I was straight away recruited as an instructor in the same school.
After a year in that job I decided to go out to explore the world in the company of my camera For five years I visited and worked in a number of countries.
With the help of my camera(Nikon F3-HP) I managed to gain access into the lives of many people wherever I went. I gained experience in a number of fields of photography, but soon enough I realized that
I must focus on the field in which I was best, namely documenting people, their lives and their environment. For several years I worked for various magazines in Israel, as well as in other  countries. Nowadays I devote all my free time to "street photography" ,and to its advancement in Israel.

2-Photography for me is much more than the means to record impressions from my personal life ,or the life of the society in which I live.For me photography serves as a central, mental, balancing point in the midst of all other things that demand my attention in daily life. It is a haven, an island of sanity in which I am always glad to take refuge from an insane world.
The very moment I take up my camera I feel commitment, and a sense of responsibility. Holding my camera I feel that I am required to be more attentive, more sensitive, more determined. It is as if the camera in my hands obliges me to think, imagine, improvise, be more creative, as if, for a brief magical moment, it brings out in me all those good qualities which make up the best character of man.
Photography has always had, ever since my childhood, a kind of mystical power over me. For me the camera was that sparkling, eye-catching device, which imbues those who hold it with supernatural powers, the power to catch a magical moment with a little push of a button, show everybody that one can stop the flow of time, look again and again at a chosen situation, recreating and re-experiencing the emotions of a unique moment.
Even today, many years and experiences later, this feeling of magic has not faded. I still feel the excitement of photography and thank my luck for being able to experience the marvel of holding a camera, and sharing with others these feelings of wonder and excitement.

3- I use two approaches to the process of creation. As they complement each other they result in a state of permanent readiness for any eventuality. One is the way of "defense" the other the way of "initiative".
"Defense": when I move in the street sometimes I find myself being "attacked" by surprising , unexpected, situations.  Being alert to this kind of situation I am always ready to meet the challenge, when such opportunities come my way.
In such cases the nature of reaction is defensive. One is wide open to the environment. There is no time for thought. You act instinctively, and all you want is to "absorb" the situation and disappear.
"Initiative": " initiated" approach to street photography is like going on a hunting trip. It involves all known methods of the hunter.
Going to the "hunting field" requires mental preparation. One has to clear one's mind of all irrelevant concerns and bothers. The street tells its stories using its own wavelength. All one needs to do is receive and synchronize with it. All senses are sharpened up, the body is tuned up and alert, the mind is creative, and adrenalin level is high. In this state every action will be thought out, planned, and precisely timed, every situation is examined in depth, and a method of action is initiated- diversion, camouflage, sneaking, shooting and disappearing, all methods  known to every street photographer," hunters of the streets".
What is common to both approaches is the habit of holding the camera in hand, switched on, and ready to shoot.  As long as you are in the street, the camera should not be in its protective bag, or hanging on your neck nor on your shoulder. It should be in your hand ready for every eventuality. This is basic, hard incontestable experience. Tested and proven.

4. Apart from the law which limits my right to publish certain pictures nothing can stop me from realizing my ideas/dreams.

5- I have been attracted to recording real life, having experienced other fields of photography. All these fields are characterized by control and regulation of the situation. Whether  fashion, macro, scenery, abstract, nude, or studio work, it is always possible to go back to the same situation, time and time again, even to go back and recreate whole scenes , and all this in order to achieve some "perfect-ness", a kind of fantasy in which people prefer to take refuge from real life.
Recording street life, and studying human society, are the most complex and fascinating topics. It is a field which seems to have great appeal to all of us; it is the "study of the nature of man".
The life of the street, and its inhabitants, have such great appeal for me because they are unexpected, randomly, spontaneous, sensitive and surprising, courteous and dangerous at the same time. Human situations are measured in fractions of seconds, but some have the gift of eternal life. Street photography is recording life in a live broadcast, a reality program in which the director has no control apart from his/her personal point of view through which he/she attempts to communicate to the viewers the highlight ,peak, moments.

6. As what concerns me most is investigating and recording the life of society, it is essential to reveal and expose the state of things as they are.
This search for truth may be done by an investigation in depth, looking into the smallest details, scratching the upper layers, which does indeed lead to penetrating into the citizen's life and viewing the depths of his/her soul, so to speak.
The truth may be reached in either of two ways: the longer or the shorter.
The longer way involves the elements I have just mentioned, and requires a great deal of time in order to reach full intimacy with the "subject", or the person to be photographed.
The shorter way includes all the "hunting techniques" I mentioned earlier- decoy, sneaking, camouflage, shooting and evading, all in order to get as close to the "subject" as possible in his/her moment of truth.
In my work I combine the two methods, in order to reach a truth only I and the person photographed share.
Whatever the method we choose, there is no place for shame or fear in this kind of photography work.

7- I have mastered both digital and film photography. Each has its own pro and cons with which we have to learn to live. As long as the picture touches us, and causes a reaction in us the means by which the picture was taken do not matter.
(All my street photographs done by simple p&s sony sybershot s-600.)

8-The use of various signs/symbols in the foreground or background of the picture, in combination with human elements is like a child's puzzle game. The child is holding a piece of the puzzle in his hand, and is trying to find this part's complement in a heap of various pieces. Each piece by itself does not hold much interest, but when two or more pieces combine a picture, or a new idea emerge, fruit of the photographer's creativity.
I consider these pictures a kind of exercise for eye and brain,a training in noticing the smallest details. Often the (seemingly) most negligible detail may be the making of a great picture.

9- Light and shadow have a major role in certain situations. Sometimes they have a strong effect on the nature of the picture and on the general feeling it conveys. Consequently, they belong to the list of important elements every photographer has to take into consideration before and during the "building" of the picture.

10- If life could be grasped through one, single picture, the whole thing would not have been that interesting. This is a puzzle growing up and changing form with flow of life and time. Eventually, when the last piece is laid in place the complete picture of my view of life and of the world may, hopefully, emerge.