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Seconds2Real: Guido Steenkamp

“The most exciting aspect of Street Photography for me is that there is nothing you have to prepare and almost nothing you could plan. All you have to do is to step out on the street and have your camera ready.” Guido Steenkamp
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This is part of an interview series with members of Seconds2Real street photography collective, in celebration of their forthcoming exhibition in Berlin in October.

How did you begin doing street photography, and why do you love it?

I started Street Photography in 2006. I wouldn’t say I consciously decided to focus on Street Photography, it’s more that I stumbled into it by accident. I like walking in the streets and I like to watch people. At some point I started to capture the moments when I noticed something unusual or funny – just small details of daily lives.

The most exciting aspect of Street Photography for me is that there is nothing you have to prepare and almost nothing you could plan. All you have to do is to step out on the street and have your camera ready. It needs a lot of patience, experience and mostly luck to get a decent shot. But when this happens, it’s fantastic – nothing beats that.

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And how do you pay the bills?

I am fortunate enough not to have to earn my money by working as a photographer. I work as a head of a consulting department at a Berlin based software company. That’s not the most fun job in the world but at least I am free to photograph whatever I want to in my spare time.

Which photographers inspire you?

I admire the works of Alex Webb and Trent Parke, I own every single photo book they ever published. There are also some less known (Street) Photographers that I found to be very inspiring, Lukas Vasilikos and Jack Simon just to name two. (ST84Photo notes – Jack Simon was recently announced as one of the winners of the Street Photography Now Project, a year long project run by The Photographers’ Gallery)

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Editing/selecting which images to show is crucial for a street photographer. Has being in a collective helped you with this process?

Indeed, editing and selecting images is the hardest part. As you may know the Seconds2Real members live in different cities, some in Germany, some in Austria. It happens only once or twice a year that we meet in person. Most of the editing is done via the internet. We use a forum for discussions, Dropbox to manage and edit our picture pool and Skype whenever something needs to be clarified short-term.

We all know that Flickr is certainly not the best place if one is looking for serious comments. That’s why I show my work to other Seconds2Real photographers whenever possible. Of course honest criticism is hard to take, particularly when it comes from friends, but it’s always very much appreciated.

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In the UK, street photography has become very popular over the last year (the Street Photography Now book published, Format Festival dedicated to street photography, the London Street Photography Festival, your work on show at Look11, and lots of popular workshops). Have you felt that street photography has also been more popular recently in your own country? And do think that street photography will continue to be popular in this way?

That’s true. The recent one and a half years have been truly awesome for the Street Photography community in the UK. From my perspective all of this started when in-Public published their book ’10’ in 2010, followed by ‘Street Photography Now’ and the different festivals this year.

Unfortunately Street Photography in Germany is not as popular as in the UK. There are virtually no contemporary Street Photography exhibitions in Germany. Besides the very strict publication laws we have, I do believe the main problem is that there have never been such strong Street Photography advocates in Germany like you have in the UK with supporters like Nick Turpin and Matt Stuart. Hopefully this will change soon, at least we are doing our best to improve the situation. In the recents six months we already did Street Photography workshops in Hamburg and Berlin and we are working on two group exhibitions in Berlin and Vienna.

Guido-Steenkamp-NYC-2008.

Any tips or “words of wisdom” for other street photographers?

I don’t think I am the right person to give advice on this, but I am happy to summarize what worked for me:

* A good way to start Street Photography is to attend public events or to visit touristic spots. Photographers are expected at these types of events or places and no one will bother you when taking pictures.

* Learn to use hyperfocal focusing. A lens with a depth of field scale marked on it will help (like most Rangefinder lenses have).

* Learn to get close to the subject. Don’t make yourself think that a picture of someone’s back will look good – this is usually not the case.

* Find places with lots of people, know the times when they are present and the light is good.

* Make sure to read “Ways of working” at 2POINT8

* Learn to accept that getting a decent Street Shot is just a happy accident. As you get better you have more happy accidents.

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What would be your ideal gear for doing street photography with?

Ah, the Inevitable gear question. I guess I am now supposed to say “It’s the photographer, not the camera!”? This of course is true, but I am quite gear head too. Now then, I did about 95% of my work with a Leica M6, loaded with Tri-X and using Summicron 35mm or 50mm lenses. I must admit though that I found myself using digital more and more recently.

With analog the choice of camera is very easy, get a Leica and you are done. With digital it’s way more complicated. Either the camera sucks because of poor battery life, like the Leica M9 I owned for some months, or it’s unusable because it’s too big/too loud to be used on the streets.

My current digital gear consists of a Nikon D700 I use at bigger events and a Nikon D7000 that serves as my carry-with-me-always camera, both with 35mm/35mm equivalent lenses. The Nikons are decent cameras but they are not ideal for Street Photography. For me it still feels wrong using a DSLR on the streets. Camera-wise I certainly enjoy Street Photography the most when using my 25-years old Leica.

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Seconds2Real: Natalie Opocensky

“Have fun with what you do. Get rid of all the “rules” you might get taught. Just use your eye.” Natalie Opocensky

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This is part of an interview series with members of Seconds2Real street photography collective, in celebration of their forthcoming exhibition in Berlin in October.

How long have you been a street photographer? Why do you love it?

I started with photography in 2000 during an au-pair year in the United States taking a class there. After trying this and that I just happened to end up with street photography – coincidental I guess. It was the kind of photography that caught my interest most and it still does. I love to travel and I really love to visit different cities – street photography is what let’s me take home something un-posed and out-of-life of each city I visit. I guess that’s why I love it.

As most of us I have a regular job to pay my bills. I worked in Event Management and Catering over the past 10 years – this summer I’ll take some time off and look for something different. But photography will stay a hobby – I’m not really interested in earning money with photography.

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Which photographers inspire you?

Honestly I’m not really inspired by other photographers in particular. Of course I like to look at photos but I’m not really buying photo books and I’m not really looking at them very often. Maybe it was due to lack of time in the past and it will change – but actually I don’t think so. Reconsidering the question – there is one thing that’s a little bit of an inspiration. I’m always caught more by female photographers – especially when it comes to street photography.

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Editing/selecting which images to show is crucial for a street photographer. Has being in a collective helped you with this process?

Actually most of the time, I already know which image I’ll show right after I took it. I already get a good feeling for the “interesting” shots even before I have them on the computer. So editing/selecting for me is not really a collective thing. We do though help each other with the editing, when it comes to exhibitions or photo projects and for that the collective is very helpful.

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In the UK, street photography has become very popular over the last year (the Street Photography Now book published, Format Festival dedicated to street photography, the London Street Photography Festival, your work on show at Look11, and lots of popular workshops). Have you felt that street photography has also been more popular recently in your own country? And do think that street photography will continue to be popular in this way?

Actually I know quite a lot of photographers from Austria who are into street photography. But most of all I think that photography – no matter what type – has become really popular over the last few years with all the digital possibilities. Sometimes when I’m out on the streets I feel like every person out there is carrying a camera taking pictures. It’s hard to say if photography overall will stay as popular as it is now. For street photography I would predict that its popularity will stay pretty much the same.

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Any tips or “words of wisdom” for other street photographers?

Have fun with what you do. Get rid of all the “rules” you might get taught. Just use your eye.

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What would be your ideal gear for doing street photography with?

It’s not a secret that street photography is usually a wide-angle thing I guess. Besides that the most important thing is to feel comfortable with the camera you hold in your hands. So the “ideal gear” might be different for each person.

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Seconds2Real: Christian Reister

St84photo interview // Christian Reister // http://www.reister-images.de // http://www.blog61.com

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This is part of a weekly interview series with members of Seconds2Real street photography collective, in celebration of their forthcoming exhibition in Berlin in October.

What brought you to doing street photography? How long have you been a street photographer? Why do you love it?

I’ve always been photographing mainly in public space since I’ve started photography around the year 2000. I took me some years to get closer to people but basically it has always been some kind of street photography.

What I like about taking unstaged pictures of people in urban surroundings is to do my very own kind of “personal journalism” about the society we live in and how I see it. I’m working in other photographic generes from time to time but I always return to street photography, also because of the fact that the results can never be planned – I think I just like accidents. And I like taking long walks. I prefer finding pictures that surprise me instead of staging up everthing in advance.

I’m not a professional photographer so fortunately I don’t have to think about profit when I go out photographing, do an exhibition, publish a book or whatever.

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What photographers inspire you?

Of course there are some classic photographers we all know like Winogrand, Erwitt, Frank, Parr etc. who definitely have an impact on my work but what might be even more inspiring are contemporary fellow photographers I know in person.

Editing/selecting which images to show is crucial for a street photographer. Has being in a collective helped you with this process?

I have some close photo friends whose work I’ve followed for many years and vice versa. I think it’s always an enrichment to discuss your selections with other people who have a sense of what you are doing, no matter if they are photographers or not. The bigger a project gets the more important it is to look at your work with more than your own two eyes. My book ALEX e. g. was strongly influenced by Andreas Rost who helped me a lot in questions of editing and sequencing the photographs.

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In the UK, street photography has become very popular over the last year (the Street Photography Now book published, Format Festival dedicated to street photography, the London Street Photography Festival, your work on show at Look11, and lots of popular workshops). Have you felt that street photography has also been more popular recently in your own country? And do think that street photography will continue to be popular in this way?

I think the term “street photography” is not as fashionable in Germany as it seems to be in the UK today, but I think there is a tendency towards a more authentic photography in general. But anyway – I don’t care too much about trends and labels and there is a lot of photography described as “street photography” that I find quite boring because it’s just repeating the same clischés over and over again. Generally I am interested in strong photography and like photographers who have something to say with their pictures and not just babble around.

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Any tips or “words of wisdom” for other street photographers?

Find your own story and speak your own language.

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What would be your ideal gear for doing street photography with?

The ideal gear would be a combination of the size and weight of a Lomo LC-A + image quality and handling of a EOS 5D + the high ISO qualitiy of the latest Nikon SLRs.

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– Note about the attached images –

In the last few years I concentrated on photographing in the city I live in. These pictures were taken in Berlin in 2010 and 2011.

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Seconds2Real: Thorsten Strasas

“Street photography in Germany is very popular as long as you are online.” Torsten Strasas

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This is part of a weekly interview series with members of Seconds2Real street photography collective, in celebration of their forthcoming exhibition in Berlin in October.

What makes you love street photography?

I’ve been a street photographer for about five years.

I wouldn’t call it love. It’s more a kind of language which allows me to tell my point of view on human beings in urban landscapes and of course about the emotional side of human life.

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What photographers inspire you?

Well, that’s hard to say. I’m more inspired by story-telling pictures or those which directly transport strong emotions. While seeing those pictures I usually don’t care who pressed the shutter button.

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Editing/selecting which images to show is crucial for a street photographer. Has being in a collective helped you with this process?

At the end of a day every photographer has to edit his pictures by himself. At least as long as you don’t want to make a living from it…

But being in a collective the critiques you receive by the other members are helpful as well as this kind of quiet natural competition between you and yourself while trying to meet the collective’s high standard.

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In the UK, street photography has become very popular over the last year (the Street Photography Now book published, Format Festival dedicated to street photography, the London Street Photography Festival, your work on show at Look11, and lots of popular workshops). Have you felt that street photography has also been more popular recently in your own country? And do think that street photography will continue to be popular in this way?

Street photography in Germany is very popular as long as you are online. And of course as a street photographer you will always be surrounded by street photography. But when you lay down the camera, log out from the internet and have a look around you will see that street photography is still a small genre in (offline) photography. So there’s light and shadow. But it’s nothing to complain about.

Any tips or “words of wisdom” for other street photographers?

Go out, have fun, shoot. Oh, and never leave your camera at home!

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Given Flickr’s love of gear talk, is the right gear important for making great street photographs?

From my point of view there’s only one kind of ideal gear: the gear that allows you to make your pictures exactly the way you want to make them.

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Seconds2Real: Mario Cuic

“Street photography is mind work. Free your mind on Street, be open for everything.” Mario Cuic

What inspired your passion for street photography?

My Passion for photography started with a small camera that I brought years ago, in short time I came in touch with photography, I realized that there is much wonderful photography out there.
I felt like Alice in wonderland, and from this Time I Fall in Love with Photography.

I came in touch to street photography with a Book from Marc Riboud.
I am nearly four years on the street, I love to be in the Public, I like to see all the People deep in their Life, I like their body language, their ironic, their funny and bizarre Moments.

I love to see and find these small things that happened everyday, and with luck I get one more of them. Street photography grows for me in the last Years and is now Passion and Lifestyle.

What is your profession?

I Work as a measuring engineer, in a company specialised for hydraulic system components. I have the Luck that I work in a good team and feel well with them, and I like my Work. That is important, It keeps the Head clean. (Hope my Boss will Read this, maybe he will then increase my salary) 🙂

Which photographers inspire you?

I really like Photography from Martin Parr, Richard Kalvar and Matt Stuart, I like their point of view.

But I also like Work from other Generes like Jacob Aue Sobol “ I, Tokyo “, Nadav Kander “ Yangtze – The Long River” or Kyle Kassidy’s “Armed America” great Photography.

But I think most inspire comes from many good contemporary street photographers who show their photography on Flickr, of Second2Real itself.

Editing/selecting which images to show is crucial for a street photographer. Has being in a collective helped you with this process?

Yes it helped me.
Two examples. Siegfried Hansen who is a very experienced photographer gives me much tips for reviewing and selecting pictures for Portfolio, and for photography itself, interesting to see his different view and opinion.

Or with Kay von Aspern, he didn’t like any of my dog pictures that I selected for a theme.
And that is really ok for me, because I know 100% that he is honest with a meaning of a picture.
(next time when I meet Kay I will give him my dog selection prints as a gift) 😉

All the Communication in the Group can help to improve and Learn, Photography is like Life, never-ending learning Process.

In the UK, street photography has become very popular over the last year (the Street Photography Now book published, Format Festival dedicated to street photography, the London Street Photography Festival, your work on show at Look11, and lots of popular workshops). Have you felt that street photography has also been more popular recently in your own country? And do think that street photography will continue to be popular in this way?

A good question, honestly I haven’t ever think about that. I don’t know, maybe the popularity will constantly grow, or it is a trend like in the fashion industry, its hold some time, but it when its outdated
the media and Public wouldn’t touch it anymore.
It’s nice to see that it popularity grows, BUT I also like the “underground” touch (what ever this means).

Here in Germany we don’t have much of contemporary street photography in galleries or media, and it was never a Problem for me, because of that it was never Present in Gallerys, and I don’t know otherwise.

Any tips or “words of wisdom” for other street photographers?

Street photography is mind work. Free your mind on Street, be open for everything.
The Review and the Selection makes your Style. And also important, know your gear.

What would be your ideal gear for doing street photography with?

I know many good photographers who collect cameras and Lenses like Photography Books.
For some reason it is a Taboo to speak about gear, but when some one started mostly all talk about it. 😉

For your Question. My ideal setup, let me think……..

Maybe when I have a lens in my eye and took a picture in a real short moment!
(Ok every photographer want that) 🙂

But without that I have my gear, I use for most of my photography a Leica M8 rangefinder with a 28 mm lens (equal 35mm), and also use a small Nikon D7000 DSLR camera with a 12-24/f4 lens (equal 16-35 mm), and for Daily Life I have always a small Ricoh GRD with me in my Pocket.

Thank you for the interview and the exhibition, it is a pleasure for me.

And Now for Something Completely Different 😉

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Seconds2Real Exhibition Exclusive Preview

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Seconds2Real European Street Photography Collective are exhibiting work at Bold Street Coffee, Liverpool, from 15th June until 13th July, 2011.

To celebrate the exhibition, ST84Photo blog will be bringing you exclusive interviews and images with the photographers running throughout the exhibition. ST84Photo will also be documenting the installation and opening of the exhibition, to give those of you who can’t make it in person a taste of the brilliant atmosphere and images on display.

To get the ball rolling, this post would like to introduce the cast of exhibiting photographers:

Kay von Aspern – Vienna
Elisabeth Schuh – Vienna
Guido Steenkamp – Berlin
Thorsten Strasas – Berlin
Natalie Opocensky – Vienna
Alexander Magedler – Vienna
Heiko Menze – Vienna
Mario Cuic – Munich
Christian Reister – Berlin
Andreas Stelter – Minden

Locations were the images were made are:
Bratislava
Istanbul
Budapest
Berlin
Hamburg
Vienna
Munich
Tokyo
Firenze
Pitigliano

The time frame the images were made during is:
2002-2011

Interviews will be coming to ST84Photo blog soon, so watch this space!
Update: Interviews with the Seconds2Real photographers will start appearing on ST84Photo from Thursday 16th June, 2011, so watch this space!

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