Paul Schatzberger — fine art photography

Artist's statement



After practising both medicine and photography for 34 years I eventually left the NHS in 2007 to focus on making art.


Inspired by John Berger's book A Fortunate Man, the story of a dedicated country doctor illustrated by the evocative photography of Jean Mohr, my first serious photographs were of similarly committed general practitioner colleagues working in inner-city Sheffield during the 1980s.

 

I went on to photograph aspects of the exemplary health service in Cuba and of life there, initially combined with text for educational purposes. Finding that the images spoke for themselves, in the 90s I began to exhibit them in their own right.

 

The loss of my young niece to a brain tumour around this time caused me to reflect on my medical and photographic practices, and on the nature of the relationship and inter-dependency between the two. For a while death and dying, experience of which as a doctor gave me privileged access to this difficult subject, became a predominant theme in of my photographic work, notwithstanding the taboos associated with the depiction of mortality.

 

More recently I have been exploring and presenting observations of personal and external space, and my perceptions of the world as I find it. Atmospheric, thoughtful images that often talk of absence – buildings are vacated, rooms empty – yet there are usually signs of a human presence in the frame. 

 

I do not always know what precisely captures my gaze at the time or why. It is something to do with recognising a moment or situation and its meaning, and seeing that it would speak as a photograph. My understanding of the images I make and the connections between them is work in progress.


While earlier work mainly sought to document facts, my newer photographs are more likely to pose questions than provide answers. They represent a response to emotions and feelings from what I see before me, and usually contain more beneath the surface than immediately meets the eye.



Paul Schatzberger

Sheffield, December 2017