Inside this issue
Indonesian born Hengki Koentjoro is an accomplished photographer, specialising in the spectral domain that lies amidst the shades of black and white. Born in Semarang, Central Java, further education took him to Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California - an expedition that plunged him into the professional arena of video production and fine art photography. Hengki returned to Jakarta where he works as a freelance videographer and video editor for nature documentaries and corporate profiles. Delving into what he believes to be his true purpose in life's journey of expression, he indulges himself in the art of black and white photography on the side.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
The landing page for Hengki’s website encourages you to ‘Get Lost in Thoughts’ and that’s something I find increasingly happens these days. For as much as we think that our love of photography is about the image, it’s about many other things. It allows me to get lost in - and from - my thoughts, but also to temporarily escape the everyday. Looking at the work of others also provides an opportunity to get lost, and we should value our ability to see the world through their eyes more than the seeds of envy and insecurity that social media can engender. Hengki Koentjoro was recently, and entirely coincidentally, the subject of End Frame. If that made you keen to see more of his work – which he describes as “Exploring along the borderlines of light and shadow, yin and yang; celebrating complexity in the minimalist; diving into the spiritual in the physical” – read on.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about where you grew up and your early interests? I believe photography became part of your life at quite a young age?
I was born in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia. I’m 56 years old, married, and have 3 children, all boys. As a child, my parents gave me a Kodak Pocket camera for my 11th birthday; this camera got me hooked right away. I loved the idea of freezing moments in life and preserving the image for years to come. Basically the camera recorded all the activity around the house from guests to family pets, nothing escaped and everything is neatly documented in my private album.
How did you come to study in America, and what perspective did you gain from this? (from the course itself, or from living and working in another country)
I was introduced to Ansel Adams’ photographs at high school and I immediately fell in love with black and white photography. In my mind, monochrome was solely for photojournalism in the newspaper, and Ansel Adams opened my eyes to a side of photography that I had never dreamt of before. I never thought that black and white could be so beautiful.