A while back I entered the NVAL 2016 International Juried Photography Show. The juror, Jack Fulton, was one of my favorite photography professors during Graduate School at SFAI. Jack wrote a kind and warm paragraph on my entered photograph.
JUROR STATEMENT: “A Lifetime of Work” by Hendrik Paul is as sweet and dear as it can be. An older person, grandma, with her walker, not totally feeble, dressed nicely, bends over doing something in the kitchen. She represents each and every one of us as we age and slink toward infirmity but she is bathed in the warmth of light illuminating our very selves to comprehend what time and the meaning of life are about. Living life, having personal liberty and pursuing happiness is what it is about. The punctum here is simply ‘doing’.
The photograph of my uncle Udo is a summary of many reasons as to why I love photography. I had previously photographed my uncle a numerous amount of times in the same barn. None had been successful in my minds eye. Many of the images seemed forced. The setting of the barn made for what I thought would be a great image. I believe that I tried too hard to “get” the image. Upon another trip I decided to jerry-rig a flash and a 1/4 of a second image combination. I took three images, each time trying to coordinate the timing of the flash and me pressing the shutter. Three months later when processing the film, I saw that I got the image that I had been trying to get for all those years. And it was without all the “effort.” I simply took the image; letting my intuited eye make the image. Alignment without effort!
There is a deep connection between me and the farm on which my mother grew up on. Walking around the grounds of the farm I can feel the paths that my ancestors have paved. For over 500 years there has been a Wittmann family on this farm. With the barns, my 98 year old grandma, the fields and much of what the farm offers, it has become a passion of mine to photograph Höste Damm 6.
Years of the past surround me. I see a now empty field and wonder what was. I find a cobwebbed ridden part of a barn ceiling and can imagine hay bales being thrown up and neatly stacked. Having viewers see this rich history of farm life is important to me. With the distance of farm to dining table growing ever greater, we the human race are losing the connection to the earth and where our food comes from. Not only is this photo series a series deeply rooted to my blood and family, but a story about the changing of society and how our ever growing technological advancements have inadvertently aided the increasing gap between human beings and their farmed land.
Another series that I have been working on is my Tree Portraits. For the past 8 years I have searched for Redwood trees that have a lot of low lying needless branches. With the correct light I find these bare branches to be utterly beautiful. They often glow white against the dark tree making for wonderful contrast. Every tree that I find with these bare branches is different from the last. Like portraits of humans, these tree images capture the varying aspects of each individual Redwood tree. I have not seen a body of work that portrays the same thing. I have not shown too many people this body of work. At times it makes me nervous thinking about the amount of time I have spent photographing, printing and working on this body of work. What if no one likes them? Is it all a waste? When I feel these nerves I ground and let them go. I see them dissipating into the earth and I feel the joy in the images. The Redwood tree images make me happy. That is enough.