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Up high A trip through Switzerland’s alpine hinterland

For years Fribourg photographer Romano P. Riedo has been capturing family life and economic activity in rural mountain regions. Twenty years ago he published the book “Alpzeit”. Now he is back with his latest series “Hinterland”.

The reportage – if that is the right name for such a lengthy labour of love – recently won an award at the 2014 Swiss Press Photo competition. His sensitive images of life and work with animals in the Alps reflect his closeness to the subject and his personal experiences.

As he says about his time as a herdsman: “Being in the Alps is a very solitary occupation”. Alongside the hard work there is also plenty of time to daydream, he adds.

But it was not an instant process. Riedo climbed over the barbed wire fence many times before deciding to shoot the animal hairs that had caught on one of the spikes. He himself used to flatten the coarse linen cover on the freshly made bed or use the fan-shaped piece of wood to light a fire before finally looking at them through a camera lens.

The results are photos that give us a small glimpse into the alpine hinterland. It’s a place that belongs to our world but which many of us are unfamiliar with, as to get to know it takes time and peace and quiet. Riedo’s photos invite us to take that time.

For “Hinterland” he deliberately chose black and white, and used film, not because he is a purist or traditionalist but because these techniques best capture the subject matter. The slow existence that he documents seems to mirror the elaborate process of processing film in a darkroom.

Ultimately, the lack of colour forces us to look deeper beneath the surface of each image. Riedo’s “Hinterland” thus makes us reassess the true meaning of objects and scenes which generally only reveal themselves on repeat viewings.

All images: Romano P. Riedo / fotopunkt.ch
Text: Thomas Kern / swissinfo.ch

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