I felt compelled to venture forth and explore the true face of the world. Leading a satisfying life of plenty had blinded many of us to the immense hardships beyond our borders.
2. Combat poverty and injustice in the world:
I believe it is one of our biggest tasks—the task of our life—to do everything possible to counter poverty and to build a freedom-loving future.
3. Always stay an artist
I’m just no newspaper reporter. I’m at the mercy of the big newspapers. It won’t do. I’ve been prostituting myself, but now I’ve had enough. Deep inside me I still am- and always will be- an artist.
4. Raising awareness through photography; don’t make the public ignore you!
In the long run I don’t think anyone can overlook these images of hunger, that people can ignore all my pictures—no, definitely not. And even if only a vague impression remains, in time this will create a basis that will help people distinguish between what is good and what is objectionable.
5. What does war bring?
When the war came, with it came the destruction of my ivory tower. Henceforth my attention would focus on the face of human suffering, something I saw a thousand times over on the Swiss-Austrian border… stranded children and old people, behind them exploding grenades and speeding armored cars.
6. Find inspiration in nature
“How serene and great nature is, quite removed from this world – the moon casts its pale face on the glacier below us – a mighty flow of ice with holes and crevasses; blackish-blue abysses signifying nothingness. So soft – so gentle, ennobling all, like a gentle hand the moonlight glides across the icy cold sheets, the shadows are not voids, they are full of life.” – (Ascent of the Oschen from the Strahlegghütte. Werner Bischof’s diary, August 19th, 1940)
“Round every bend a surprise. The Wild valley grew deeper, the water more rapid and the rocks more massive. The colour changed from the tranquil grey-green to a wild, whipped-up white. Water that was heading for the Amazon, a marvelous thought. On the rock walls grew wonderful, delicate orchids, cacti, ferns. We stopped at a few huts, and were able for the first time to grasp the height of the rocks that rose up around us. They seemed to be made all the more massive by the mist that cut them short. Everything grey and dripping from saturation; the depths seemed to conceal mysterious life within them.” – (Werner Bischof’s diary, Lima, May 6, 1954)
“The trees are exquisite in Japan. You know the poems that tell of the wind blowing through the trees and the trees and the leaves. In the center of the capital, with its ever-increasing bustle, I have discovered some tree shapes of breathtaking beauty and have drawn them for you. I cannot believe that these people will ever stop venerating nature, that a time will come when they no longer shelter trees and flowers in their houses as symbols of what is noble and pure.” – (Werner Bischof’s letter to wife Rosellina, 1951)
“The plain is a mosaic of fields, of delicately colored squares – a real Paul Klee painting.
7. Elegance and beauty in the ordinary:
8. Find hope and optimism through your photos
Even though a lot of his photos documented suffering, pain, and injustice in the world (especially after World War II), his photos have so much love, life, and hope:
Further lessons I’ve learned from Werner Bischof:
Shoot a combination of nature, landscape, people, and city life
Seek for elegant minimalism; less is more
Try to shoot from unique perspectives (bird eye view, or super-low perspective)