Berlin Gay Pride 2017: May I Take Your Picture?

Berlin’s Christopher Street Day celebration was on this past Saturday. German parliament having recently ratified Marriage Equality, the event was more a matter of celebration this year than in previous years. About an hour into the event, heavy rainfalls began to come down, which didn’t really deter people, and the whole thing became a big party in the rain.

This was the first time in many years that I went back to the CSD march. It’s always been a good occasion for taking photos. This year’s didn’t disappoint either. On occasions like these, people usually don’t mind having their photo taken. I did take a number of candid shots, but the ones I’m happiest with are the ones where I asked people to pose. Gay Pride attracts many photographers, most with huge zoom lenses waiting at the side of the road. My approach is a tad different: I participate in the event, that is, I take part in the march, and I take photos from within, from close-up. When I ask people to pose, most of the time there is a connection, and there is something about the resulting pics which makes them more personal, and also makes them stand out.

I used the Fuji X-T20 camera, with initially a 56mm lens which I soon swapped for the 35mm lens as it was more suited to work from within the crowd.

For more of my Gay Pride photos, [click here]. Photos from earlier CSD events can be found on my Berlin page. Enjoy.

People in the Park

Summer’s Here
And the Time is Right
For Drinking in the Park”

(With my apologies to Bruce Springsteen)

It’s that time of year again where people love to hang out in the city parks to drink, daydream or frolick. It’s always a good time to shoot photos, not just the candid ones: the more relaxed people are, the sooner they agree to have their photo taken, when you ask nicely. And sometimes you also end up having good conversations, as I did with both Piet and Daniel depicted below.

Piet in Görlitzer Park
Daniel in Görlitzer Park
Spread Your Wings And Fly – Skater in Gleisdreieck Park
Walli in Gleisdreieck Park
A Skater’s Life. Gleisdreieck Park
Dreaming in Gleisdreieck Park
Görlitzer Park

Cameras: Fujifilm X-T20 and X-E2

For more portraits and street photography, [click here]

© 2017 gheedon

 

Mario Testino – Undressed

(Mario Testino Undressed exhibition at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin)

I should start by saying that I’m not a big fan of Helmut Newton’s nudes – for me there is something unsettling about the sensationalist, voyeuristic way in which Newton stages his (all female) models. Having said that, I was happy to see the Helmut Newton Foundation here in Berlin host the works of Mario Testino, a friend of Helmut Newton’s, who approaches nude photography in a totally different manner – but more on that later; first a word on the exhibition itself.

The show is entitled Undressed, and its set-up has been created specifically for this site. The photos have been blown up larger than life and glued directly on the walls, almost covering every inch of wall space available. So basically one wanders through a maze of nude figures. The effect is mesmerising, and a game changer: you’re not peering (peeping?) at details in tiny to poster-sized images, instead the images and their content are right in your face. Quite a bold step for an installation of nudes which literally hide nothing.


Now back to Pestino’s work itself. The show is billed as examining the boundaries between fashion, eroticism and art. The fashion part itself is almost non-existant. Instead, the photos represent models (both famous and unknown) in both formal and informal settings. Some are staged (and look that way), while others (and for me the best) have a candid vibe about them. There is a playfulness about the images and the way that the models are presented which makes the nudity seem casual, almost irrelevant – in other words, lacking the voyeuristic aspect of Newton’s nudes. Testino also features models across the gender spectrum: female, male, and androgynous. While some images highlight the maleness or femaleness of the respective models, this is put into perspective by juxtaposition to those images which mix up and question the gender norms.


Undressed is on until November 2017. It is accompanied by a publication of the same name by the renowned Taschen publisher.

On a side note, the museum currently also features a temporary exhibition of Helmut Newton photos (apart from the permanent exhibition), entitled ‘Unseen’, most of which stem from portrait and fashion shootings which Newton undertook for various publications. This show I also enjoyed a lot.

Links: 

– The Helmut Newton Foundation 
Undressed
by Mario Testino, published by Taschen

My Year 2016 in Pictures

(Note: this is an updated version of a posting I put up on 26 December. Turns out that that was a bit premature for a full round-up of the year)

It’s that time of year again to look back and see what the year has been like. Like many out there, I feel that 2016 has been absolutely disastrous. It started with the death of David Bowie and just got worse. I thought it had reached its lowest point with the election of Donald Trump (a day I think the world will regret for a long time to come), but of course other low points followed: the atrocities committed in Aleppo, the terrorist attacks around the world, including the recent one here in Berlin.

With the world going crazy, in a negative sense, it became important for me to create a space where I connected with people – with new people. Photography allowed me to do that. It started with my intention to capture more portraits of the people around me, my friends; and then on to street portraits, i.e. portraits of strangers that I’d ask on the street. This curiosity also led me to get acquainted with street musicians here in Berlin, which in turn led me to hooking up with a larger circle of people who lead a free-spirited life outside what are deemed social norms. I called them the “Südstern gang”; Südstern being the square in Berlin where we’d meet on an almost daily basis during the late summer months and well into autumn. Describing these experiences (not all of them positive) warrants an article in itself, not one I’m ready to write just yet. Let’s just say for now that it allowed me to experience different life choices, witnessing both the freedoms and the problems that these choices bring with them. With the onset of bad weather, the group dispersed, but the experience resulted in two friendships, one good and one flawed (the flawed one marred by trying to cope with a drug addict, and all the negativity this entails).

On top of these Berlin based experiences, I also took a few trips. Initially just a few short ones, the highlights certainly being Bologna in March and Oslo in early May; however, I’m currently on a three week trip around Morocco, and two of the images taken on this trip conclude the selection, with one image actually having been taken today, on the last day of the year 2016.

Below then are a selection of image for each month, summarizing best what the month stood for. I picked solely people photos, portraits or street photographs, but they also reflect the place and the time of year they were taken in.

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All photos, except two, were taken using the two Fujifilm cameras, the X-T10 and the X-E2, which have definitely become my cameras of choice, especially the X-T10. Being small and unobtrusive, yet providing high quality images even in low light, they played an important part in my life this year.

City Scape: Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. Camera: Fujifilm X-T10

Almost 20 years after it was built, Potsdamer Platz still divides opinions. Some hate it, some shrug it off, some like it. For some, it’s a symbol of Berlin’s post-reunion megolamania, a failed wanna-be Disney-Manhattan. However, for a city that does not take many chances on cutting-edge, innovative architecture, Potsdamer Platz is remarkable in that here at least are a few designs which did not originate in a Lego box. Personnaly, I like it.

Streets of Berlin: Candid Street Photography



This year, one particular focus of my photography was street portraiture, i.e.
posed portraits of people encountered in the street. Apart from this, I did continue to capture candid pictures of people throughout Berlin. While 2016 is not quite over yet, I have recently posted a selection of this year’s best such images: Streets of Berlin 2016.

The set is a combination of different styles of street photography. When capturing people on the street, I usually approach them closely enough to capture emotions and expressions, but I also try to include context and background. Depending on the setting, though, it’s also fun to take a step back and let the scenery take center sage, so to speak, such as in the image depicted below.

People sometimes ask me if I prefer to shoot in colour or in black and white. My answer: if there is colour, I prefer colour; else black and white. What this means is: I do love working with colours, so if the colours in a scene are right, I capture them. It’s one of the reasons why I love photographing in places like India or Italy: the colours are just gorgeous. But in settings where the colours are drab, distracting, or just not interesting, I go for black and white. Black and white also seems to add intimacy to a portrait. Sometimes, though, the distinction isn’t that rational, and I go with my mood. However, I usually decide how to shoot beforehand – I very rarely change colour to b&w in post-production. About two thirds of the photos in this set are in colour and the rest are monochrome.

Most of the photos were taken with my two Fuji cameras, the X-T10 and the X-E2; which have become my cameras of choice over the past year. However, there are also a couple of iPhone photos inclouded in the set. As the saying goes, the best camera is always the one you carry with you….

Streets of Berlin: Candid Street Photography 2016

More links:

Night Lights

I may have mentioned this earlier, but I love the combination of the Fujifilm X-Series cameras’ low light capability coupled with the 35mm 1.2 lens. Here are a few more shots taken around Berlin at night with both the X-T10 and the X-E2. While black and white works better on account of the higher ISO settings, coming out incredibly sharp and noise-free, the colour ones aren’t so shabby either ….



Here are a couple more examples of night time photography:

Jam Session

One of the perks of being friends with street musicians: you’re often treated to impromptu concerts and jam sessions. Here three members of the Illegal Boys, a Polish group performing around Berlin, rapper Kool Kasai and Malte on accordion got together for a little fun. Being utterly devoid of any musical talent, I’m always amazed how fast and without much of a prologue these guys manage to fuse their different styles into a coherent, convincing whole that makes people stop and listen. 





Camera: Fujifilm X-T10 with 35mm f1.4 lens.