Tales of Strangers #3: Walli

Part 3 in the stories behind some of my recent street portraits:

Walli

Walli was fairly reticent when I asked if I could take a some pictures of him. He had just put on his skates and was about to go skating in the park. But he didn't decline. He asked me what I was gonna use the pics for, and I explained that I put them up on my web site and on Flickr, he then went online and checked what I had been posting. Then he agreed to be photographed, and immediately struck this pensive pose which made me think that he's actually used to being photographed. I couldn't draw much information out of him, after all, skating waited…


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.

Portraits, Continued

I’ve been doing some more portrait work these past couple of weeks, both indoors and out, trying to do a mixture of both formal and informal settings.

Cameras: Fujifilm X-T20 and X-E2, with 35mm and 27mm lenses.

For more recent portraits, [click here].

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Eduardo
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Flower Power Grlll (Karen)
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Flower Power Grrrl
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Patrick in the Park
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Katharina & Domenic (Fun Fair Fun)
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Patrick in the Park

London Street Photos (Part 2, Colour)

More street photography from London, this time in bright Velvia colours. Taken in and around Camden Market in North London, and Brick Lane in the East End. Both these places attract street photographers, I saw quite a few out and about. Most seem to use zoom lenses (some of them obscenenely huge). I myself prefer prime lenses, here I used the 35mm. For some reason I don’t like zooming in on people – I feel like a Peeping Tom doing that. But maybe that’s just me? Did I watch too many bad movies?

Camera: Fujifilm X-T20 with 35mmR1.4 lens. 
 



London Street Photos (Part 1, Black and White)

It’s been a while… here are some new street portraits and street photographs from a sunny day in London. There is nothing like travelling to get the creative juices flowing. That, and decent weather, i.e. light. 

All images shot with a Fujifilm X-T20 camera and the 35mmR1.4 lens. Colour photographs to follow…

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Meanwhile, back at Hermannplatz…


One of my favourite hang-outs in Berlin is Hermannplatz, a square at the intersection of Neukoelln and Kreuzberg, two traditionally low-income parts of Berlin who have been heavily gentrified in the last few years. It’s a fascinating place where many of the cultures that make up modern Berlin meet: the hipsters from all over the Western world, kids whose parents or grand-parents once came  from Turkey and Lebanon, newly arrived refugees from Syria, Africa and other places. I wrote about this intersection of cultures in a lengthier article last year, after having photographed in the square all of that summer and fall. Now with summer here, it’s again a good place to hang out, to meet people and to photograph.

The gentleman with the beard pictured above is a street musician who plays the guitar and other instruments, mostly in Berlin’s underground. He seems to have quite a reputation (he told me his name so I can check his videos on YouTube, but I managed to forget it…), and the other two guys were busy taking selfies with him when I asked if I could photograph them. As you can tell, they were happy to oblige. The encounter was centred on the musician, who told me all about his music; and I did not get to ask the other two guys about their background. But if you look at the scars on their faces, I am sure there is much history there as well… I guess, that’s for another day then. I’m sure we’ll meet again. On Hermannplatz.

To view more of my street photography, click here .
To view more street photography from Hermannplatz and Neukoelln, click here.

The photos above were taken with a Fujifilm X-E2 and a 27mm lens.

As Summertime Ends


With summer drawing to a close in these parts of the world, it’s time to wrap up those summer photo shoots. I’ve still been out and about in Berlin over the last sunny weeks and captured more street photographs, a selection of which I added to the sets I uploaded a couple of months ago: The Singer On the Couch and Scenes of Summer, the former being in black and white, the latter in colour. As before, the bulk of the new colour photos were shot with the Leica X2, and all the black and white ones with a Fuji, this time the X-T10. These are the final additions to these sets, and I must say I’m happy how they turned out.

Apart from the images which I added to these sets, I also shot a bunch of street photos around my neighbourhood, most of them with the Leica X2, which I will be adding later as a separate set – these photos really stand on their own and don’t really fit in with the happy-go-free images of the other two sets.

So, here’s to a good summer almost past. Enjoy.

Links: 
– The Singer on the Couch (black and white set)
– Scenes of Summer (colour set)

Summer Scenes: Berlin Street Photography


recently blogged about the fact that for the time being I’m concentrating on digital photography rather than analog as I used to. Earlier this year I posted architectural photographs from Berlin and London shot mostly with the Fujifilm X30, which was the first project I undertook with the new digital camera. 

I have now also uploaded a of new set of images which I took as part of a second project that I embarked on with digital cameras, namely street photography. This is the first set for this project, and it features colour photographs which were taken this summer, mostly using the Leica X2 camera, but also a Fujifilm X30 and more recently a Fujifilm X-T10. I’m quite enamoured with the Leica’s colour output, I must say, which is why it seemed to me the best choice when heading out on sunny days (although I do wish the camera came with a view finder!). Although Fujifilm cameras do a great job too with colours, I find I use them mostly for black and white.

The project is ongoing, as is summer, so the set may yet change. I’m also putting together a second set with black and white photos which will be up later this summer.

I hadn’t really attempted street photography in Europe recently. When travelling in India and China, I enjoyed photographing people, be it candid shots or casual portraits. Asians in general, and Indians in particular, are very relaxed about being photographed. It’s usually a matter of ‘you shoot me, I shoot you’ attitude, which is all about sharing. Not so in Europe, and particularly in Germany. Germans have this thing what they call ‘the right to your own image.’ They like to cite that to you like a mantra whenever you mention that you photograph strangers. I blame Karl May for that. Karl May is that 19th century German author who wrote novels about the American West (and other exotic locales) without ever having set foot there. He claimed in his novels that Native Americans did not want to be photographed as they believed that it robbed them of their soul (May had a lot of BS theories about Native Americans). Germans, who basically grow up on Karl May, seem to have internalised this philosophy: if you (a stranger) take their image, you rob them of a part of them. At least that’s my theory as to why so many people tell me off, give me the finger, hide their faces or give me the evil eye when I aim the camera in their general direction (ok, I may be a bit harsh here on the Germans, maybe all Westerners have internalized this Karl May philosophy). 

So, to cut a long story short, street photography in Berlin is mostly about stealth. Sometimes some folk consent to begin photographed if you ask nicely, but in general it is best to remain inconspicuous when shooting in the street. This is one of the strengths of the Leica X2 of course, it is small and silent. Using the Leica however presents the challenge of using a fixed 27mm lens,  meaning you have to get close to your subject. That’s one skill I’m still working on, one deep breath at a time….

This set, then, is a representation of a typical urban summer: locals enjoying the elusive sun or coping with the heat, tired tourists trying to put a brave face on things, street people trying to cope with life etc. When selecting the photos for the set, I looked out for two things: that the picture is interesting in itself (or because of its subject), and that somehow it goes beyond being a mere snapshot. I hope I succeeded. 


Enjoy… and have a good summer 🙂 

Links:



My Polaroid Summer

Now that summer is officially over, it is time for me to post the last set of photos which I took this summer. These are all summer related, so the set is called, unsurprisingly, “Polaroid Summer”.

From my earlier blog entries, you can tell that this summer was indeed a busy one for me with regard to taking photos, and more specifically, polaroids. For this reason, I have come to think of this as being “My Polaroid Summer”. I bought my first polaroid camera in June of this year. And it being summer (and a decent one for a change), I embarked on a series of projects involving the instant film cameras (all of which I blogged about earlier, just scroll down…). 

While doing these projects, I also ended up with a series of ‘incidental’ photos, basically shots taken here and there of people enjoying summer. And this is what this set is about – the last output of My Polaroid Summer.

This being the end of September, we may still have a few sunny days coming this year. But they will be autumn days, not summer days. And that, as they say, will be another story.

Links: