Q&A: Brooks Alum Hengki Koentjoro, 2014 Hasselblad Masters Finalist

March 29, 2013

Hengki KoentjoroHengki Koentjoro, who graduated from Brooks Institute in 1991 with a BA in Motion Picture & Video degree, has recently earned multiple prestigious honors, including being named a 2014 Hasselblad Masters Finalist. Today, he lives and works in Jakarta as a freelance videographer/editor specializing in nature documentaries and corporate profiles.

What does being a 2014 Hasselblad Masters Finalist in the Nature/Landscape category mean to you?

The exposure it generates is very important, especially with a name like Hasselblad. With plans to have international exhibitions, it’s a plus point. You will reach many viewers in many different countries worldwide. (Vote for his Hasselblad Masters entry, shown below.) 

Whale shark by Hengki Koentjoro
As indicated by your nomination as a potential Hasselblad Master, your work largely consists of nature and landscape themes.  What drew you to choose this focus?

I love water, and living in the biggest archipelago nation on earth is a real blessing. I don’t have to go far to get world-class scenery that some have not been discovered on the map yet. Nature also replenishes your spirit. After the hustling-and-bustling life in the city, you need balance.

Do you shoot on film, digitally, or both, and what advantages/disadvantages do you see in either format?

I mainly shoot on digital and do the black-and-white conversion in Adobe Lightroom and Nik software. The advantage is in the cost: Digital is much less expensive. There’s no need to buy film and no cost for processing.  That is the only advantage. The art of photography still remains the same, whether it’s digital or analog.
Your exhibition at the Tobin Ohashi Gallery wrapped up February 10, 2013.  How did that show come about and what did you learn while the exhibition was there?

Many positives came out from the exhibition. For one, you get to know the audience in a different country like Japan; you learn the demographic and their taste. We have generated some sales already and are thinking of extending till next month with different portfolios.
What factors do you consider when putting together an exhibition of your work?

The two most important factors in an exhibition are networking with people in the photo industry and trying to get as much exposure as possible. The sales will generate once you are exposed.

How did attending Brooks help prepare you for your work today?

Very much. Brooks teaches the disciplines needed to face the real world. Of course, there are many to learn, but at least we are prepared with how to do problem solving and given the confidence to do so.

Frenzy by Hengki Koentjoro
What lessons do you still apply from your time at Brooks?

How to see in black and white. The zone system pretty much educates your eyes in playing with tonality, which is the basic core of most of my works.

All images copyright Hengki Koentjoro. See more of Hengki Koentjoro’s work on 500px and on Google Plus.

Ian Forbes is a freelance writer from San Diego. He is the Founder/Senior Editor of the film review website www.soberingconclusion.com and Membership Chair of the San Diego Film Critics Society.