Sunday, August 30, 2015

Row Boat by Stephan Tobias

'Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays.'
Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man

'Playfully we find ourselves. Playfully we interact with others. Sex is play, and so is photography. So when Berni and Tom from Vienna came to couch surf with me last year, we played.'

With Enchanted Forest, Stephan Tobias acts as both model and editor. While putting together that feature last month, I thought it would be interesting to find a companion piece featuring his work as a photographer. With my summer theme starting to come together, this series of images fit the bill perfectly. I was not surprised when Stephen shared this series is one of the most popular on his flickr site.

I am not sure I could think of a more perfect summer day than on a boat, out on a lake, with a naked companion. I love how 'relaxed' Stephan's images are. The models, Berni and Tom seem completely comfortable and at ease. They seem to be enjoying their experience of being out on the lake and not posing as models for a shoot.

I love how Stephan in some cases shoots them from a distance, through tree's and from the shore. In those images, it is as if the photographer came upon Berni and Tom while strolling along the shore. In other images, the focus is more intimate, closer. In these images it feels as if the artist behind the lens is part of what's going on, a third passenger on board the day on the lake. For Stephan, the impetus for the shoot was play. Play is something I explore in many pieces on the blog. Play is slowly, but steadily disappearing in many parts of America. Play however, is something many in the rest of the world know is far too important to lose.

'Much philosophical thought has been applied to the phenomenon of play. And rightly so. Culture arises in the form of play. Play is at the origin of our creativity and a powerful source of happiness and improvement of mankind. And for me that concept of a Homo Ludens, man the player, much better than Homo Faber, the working man, represents what life should be all about.'

'Schlachtensee is one of those beautiful lakes in Grunewald, 25 minutes by bike from my apartment, and during the beautiful Berlin summers you can rent row boats there. It was fun to ride there through the forest by bicycle. Playfully we undressed on the boat. They dropped me on the shore a bit further down the lake and were happy to pose and follow my directions. Fortunately nudity is seen as something quite natural in liberal Berlin, so we didn't have to think much about the strollers on the shores all around. Maybe they even added to the attraction for this cute couple. It was a playful moment and an enchanted one.'

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