Please tell us something about you, your life and interest etc.
I live in Hannover, a medium-sized town in northern Germany. I live here with my partner and two cats. Since birth, I am visually impaired. I can see nothing on the left eye and about 25 % on the right eye. You can imagine my vision as an internetvideo with a low data rate: when I focus on an object (a face, for example), I can see relatively much details but trying to find someone in a crowd, is hard because everything is getting rough and plane.
I´m fine with that though I´m not allowed to steer a car, a plane or a spaceship 😉
What inspired you to become a photographer?
In my family two of my uncles were photographing and filming a lot, while they were traveling. As a technophile boy, I was always excited, if i could use one of their cameras. It was a great feeling to make a picture and wait for the print.
As a teenager i was working in a youth centre, where really cool bands like Green Day were playing. The head of the youth centre asked me, if i could make some pictures of these concerts. That´s when it started. And after he asked me, if I could bring the old dusty photo laboratory in the cellar back to live, I was completely infected by the photo-virus.
From then I was out a lot with the camera. I could spend hours in the darkroom and forget about time. During my studies I earned some money as a tutor for photography. My passion was travel photography and making pictures at lost places.
What age are you and at what age did you start your journey as a photographer?
I am 45 now and I started with photography when I was 16. But in my late twenties i lost the interest. I ran out of ideas and other things became more fascinating.
It really got me again exactly one year ago. I visited an exhibition by Martin Parr and was fascinated immediately. After looking at the works of some other streetphotographers, it thought: “I want to do this too!”. Since then, there is no day when I don´t have my camera with me.
Would you mind sharing some of the things you feel helped you along the way with your photography, (lessons, workshops, books etc)….and also some of the things that may have hindered you that you overcame on this journey?
A lot of tutorials on YouTube are definitely helpful. Additionally I bought some online courses.
After two months of intensive training I created a Flickr and Innstagram account. That was a big step forward. The feedback of other street enthusiasts is very helpful for me. I´m on Instagram since two months and get to know interesting photographers from Hannover. Going out with others is fun and I learn how they see the environment and express this photographically.
Since April 2019 I´m a part of the “Unposed Society Hannover“. We are a collective of seven guys who love Street Photography.
Apart from that it´s practice, practice, practice! Just try and see what works and what doesn´t.
Do you feel photography enhances your life. If so, how?
Absolutely! Photography changes and enhances my perception. Everything around me get more interesting and richer. For me, the world became more beautiful: I enjoy the reflections, when it´s raining or light and shadow, when the sun is shining. I am more open for the strangers around me.
If we are speaking specifically of photographers, which are the ones of the past and present do you admire?
There are a lot. But for me one of the big masters besides Martin Parr is Sebastiao Salgado. His pictures are incredibly intense, complex and every picture tells its own story. To this, they are technically absolutely masterly. I always discover something new in his pictures.
What purpose does photography serve for you?
I can´t say that because for me, there is no purpose. I don´t photograph because I want to or it fullfills a purpose. I photograph because I have to. For me, it´s not like I chose photography but vice versa.
Do you do photography for hire or as an art form?
For now, it´s an art form, but maybe it will evolve to more. For example, I would like to make streetportraits one day.
What do you do for work and how does photography fit into that?
I earn my money as a social worker. In my job I support people who experienced suffering and injustice in homes for disabled during the forties to seventies. It´s a big gift for me, to help those people to work up their past and maybe to let go a little. Additionally, I can ensure that they get some money as an excuse from the state. Because I work half-time, I have enough time for the photography, which I really enjoy.
What Genre’ of photography are you most comfortable working in?
Definitely streetphotography. I love to photograph the city I live in and the people around me. Street shows me how I see my environment and changes this perception at once. In this genre I can shoot anywhere at anytime. And I don´t need anything else but a camera, open eyes and a curious and open mind.
When you work, are you working on different series or just finding photos that fit the way you feel at the moment?
The second rather applies to me. Even though I always make more than one photo at exciting places, every photo stands for itself. Creating series is something I would like to do some day.
Can you describe a few of your trigger mechanisms that make you want to stop and shoot?
My seeing leads to the fact that I am often not fast enough to capture interesting situations around me to make a good picture of them. When I realize it, it´s often over already. That´s why I´m looking for interesting locations and wait until something happens. I´m sort of creating a stage.. This can lead to the fact that I´m squatting on the ground for twenty minutes, waiting for someone to appear at the right place. Or that I´m standing around with the camera above my head. I can be very patient and enter a contemplative state. Once my umbrella which lay directly next to me was stolen and I did not realize it. But the photo I made was definitely worth the 5 Euros. That´s why most of my streetshots are more composed and graphic. I think about how I want the picture to look and try different angles. It´s not unusual for me to come home with 1000 Shots.
My triggers are e.g. contrast situations, strong leading lines, interesting patterns, reflections, advertising, or every place which offers a chance for a juxtapostion.
How strong of a connection do you have with your subject matter and can you describe that connection?
When I´m out with my camera I feel alive and I´m in a flow. For a moment I take part in other people´s lives and I feel creative and awake. This is repeated in a weakend form, when I´m editing my pictures. Street is more than a hobby for me. I did not choose it, it found me.
What are your recurring themes?
People in relation to architecture, to their environment, to light and shadow. I want to find and show the special in everyday life.
That´s why I always have my camera with me. Because I often discover something new that I have never seen before on my everday ways to work. I like it a lot when my pictures are reduced to the essential. That´s what makes them exciting and intense. I want to photographically reduce what I find fascinating about a situation or location, so the tension does not get lost but rather increases. That´s what challenges me every day and inspires me in photography.
What is your favorite Focal Length or Field of View?
My favourite lens is the excellent, small and lightweighted Fuji 18-55mm f/2.8-4. I want to stay flexible and be able to react fast on certain situations. A fixed focal lenght is an additional limitation for me. My reduced vision is enough limitation. If I feel like having a fixed focal lenght, I would take a 35mm lens. For now I don´t have more lenses. I might buy a 28mm and a 50mm f/2 some day.
What camera are you working with currently?
Currently I´m working with Fuji X-T3. The pictures are fantastic and the colors are unique and brillant. But it´s a little Diva, too. I am disappointed with the autofocus. Before I had a Lumix Mirrorless, and the autofocus was much faster.
How do you see the relationship with your camera? Is it a friend, tool or whatever?
The camera is just a tool. But it´s one, that has to feel and react in a good way. The best rated camera is useless, if you don´t feel good with it. You start making good photos, when you don´t have to think about the camera.
Are you self taught, educated or a little bit of both?
A little bit of both. From time to time I watch good tutorials but the most I learn out on the street. I also benefit by going out with other photographs or participating at workshops from Siegfried Hansen.
How do you feel about being photographed?
I don’t mind, as long as it happens with respect.
Do you like to work by yourself or to have someone with you? Please explain why.
I like both. When I´m alone I don´t have to care about others if I stay somewhere for a few minutes and can be completely relaxed. When I´m out with someone who has a similar style of photography, it can be fun and very inspiring. I find it fascinating to accompany photographers who see, react, press the shutter and move on. But from these photowalks I don´t take so many good pictures.
Do you listen to music while you are shooting? How do you feel the music enhances the visual experience?
I never had this idea yet. No because music would bother me. The ear is a very important photographic sensory organ for me. I often hear great moments before I see them and so I am prepared when they come into the picture. Sometimes I listen to music while I´m editing my pictures and that works well.
Do you have a preference for images as an analog or as a digital state?
I really like analog photos when I see them in exhibitions. Especially in the depths they show an incredible wealth of details. I also worked with analog photography for a long time. It only makes sense for me as long as it stays analog. Once the photos are scanned, they loose their magic. The dialogue on Flickr and Instagram is very important to me. That´s why I photograph digital. And it´s also much cheaper 😉
Where is your favorite place to work?
Wherever I am. Street is always and everywhere at public places. I especially like museums, shopping malls, train stations, subway stations, etc. . You just should not get caught… I also like to photograph in the rain and snow, at sunrise or sunset and at night.
When you’re feeling somewhat slow or lost, how do you find your way back to find inspiration to get working again?
When I´m very slow I photograph slowly and look for quiet places. On days when nothing is going on, I do something different or just walk around. And when I think about something completely different and let go, inspiration can suddenly come back again. It´s important not to put myself under pressure. On days when I thought that nothing is happening, I sometimes made the best photos.
Do you go to exhibitions or do so on the web?
I like to go to exhibitions. On the one hand to look at good works and on the other hand to make photos. Art museum are great places to work at. The visitors don´t feel like being watched at all.
Do you collect other photographers work?
How satisfied are you in your current state of photography and what would you like to improve upon?
At the moment I´m working on training my skills in composition and the work with light and shadow. I´m very happy with a photo if I find it aesthetically pleasing and if it tells a story. When I´m looking at my first works from last year I can see a clear progression. Although some of them already tell a story they are still unintersting in terms of composition. As long as I keep photographing with passion and heart I think development will continue. And this happens as long as I don´t wan´t it too much with my head. As a project I would someday like to try reportage photography.
Can you describe how you judge the success or failure of your work?
That´s hard to say. Sometimes I wish I had someone who helps me to choose the best photos. The photos that I like most have a certain kind of calmness and clarity. I delete photos with a nervous background and too many objects.
What would you be doing now if you had not picked up the camera?
Take a ride on my bicycle, drinking coffee and meeting friends.
What do you dislike about photography?
All this selfie-madness and ego-cult on platforms like Instagram. And that many people think, putting filters on uninteresting pictures would make them good.
How important is the post-processing of the pictures in your work?
Sensitive post-processing is an important part of the creative process. Unedited photos are often too bland and too little emotional. I love clear structures and contrasts. It happens often that I find something completely different exciting when I´m looking at the picture on the Screen, than at the moment when I shot the capture. And this can also change during the post-processing.