an interview with Hengki Koentjoro
a brief introduction: Hengki Koentjoro is a fine art photographer based in Jakarta who specializes in black and white photography, both underwater and on land. Each of his photographs has a striking and almost surreal quality. In his “aquanaut” series divers shot from below almost look like explorers of other planets.
THE ATOMY: What draws you to capture the sea?
HENGKI KOENTJORO: The ocean posses a calming effect. This is essential for city dweller that need to gain sanity. I also life in Indonesia, a country of archipelago dubbed as the biggest on earth. We have around 14.000 islands and rich marine biodiversity to match. Many avid diver consider the Eastern part of Indonesia as the last frontier for diving.
A: We love the timeless quality of your black and white images, but do you ever shoot in color?
HENGKI: Yes, I always shoot in color as original and then convert to BW during post production. This is where the art of digital darkroom start, this is where we try to create atmosphere in order to achieve a certain mood that stir the emotion.
A: Your underwater shots are surreal; how long do you have to be submerged to capture those moments?
HENGKI: We got to follow the rule of save diving first, there are some strict guideline that must be obeyed before we got lost in creating photograph. Never dive alone always with at least a buddy at all time. Safety is our priority. Having said that, moment under the water is unpredictable so you have to keep your concentration at all time and be ready to capture the moment when it comes.
A: What do you feel when you’re shooting?
HENGKI: I cant let my feeling take control completely, I rely also on the surrounding environment specially lighting and composition. With this pristine condition usually the mood comes and more good moments can be detected easily. Sometimes you acted on a scene other you reacted. I keep my option open and never search for specific things, if the moment is there then I’ll cherish it and I won’t complain otherwise.
A: Have you ever seen a mermaid?
HENGKI: I have never seen one but I saw the next close to it, a Dugong/ manatees.
Check out Hengki’s Flickr for more photographs.
interview by: The Atomy.