Capturing time and space

Pink Leg - Manhattan 2004

Life is oftentimes more surprising than our imagination. That's why I am a picture taker and not a picture maker. I believe that my pictures are already made, presumed I am able to see them. Some people might think I use an elaborate collage technique for the STREET ART series. Although a flattering guess, it is not accurate. There is nothing arranged or manipulated in these photographs. They are "as seen" in the streets of a city I explored with my camera.

Visual narratives

I started the SREET ART series in 1995, during one of my regular visits to New York City. Torn billboards and wild postings fascinated me from the beginning. But it's only coincidentally I made my first pictures with this motif, alongside with moody photos of lower Manhattan. - How STREET ART pictures became my thing? - It's a story with a nostalgic touch - because many things have changed since then, and the places have become history.

My laboratory

In 1995 a camera was a black box with film - no display to get a first impression of the captured photos. Fortunately in Manhattan there were many small laboratories offering to process film and print photos within a few hours. Most of them were in the Photo district, an area of photo businesses, located near the iconic Flatiron Building – my favorite part of Manhattan at that time. Probably also because in this neighborhood I had the feeling being part of this world, somehow. Going to MY laboratory became a nice habit, and it was a special moment to pic-up the prints and to contemplate what I had captured in a coffee shop nearby.

It’s in one of these moments I discovered the intriguing potential of these early STREET ART pictures: I realized that these visual narratives were microcosms of all that embodied New York City for me. Since then I developed a passion for these spots that we usually don't even notice. Unintentionally I am ready to see my next picture, wherever I am.

Eine frühe Aufnahme, welche zur Serie STREET ART führte - New York 1995

Photographing is a special state of mind

N.Y. Aquarium Station

"The pictures are out there: You just have to see them." What does my credo mean in practice? Maybe you are walking around in a city. Suddenly you see a scene that attracts your attraction, and you think: This would be a nice picture. – You have to take the picture now, immediately giving up what you are doing. Because what you see may be gone in a few seconds, because human beings are involved, or because it's the light that makes this scene extraordinary.

Completely focussed

But even if I miss the picture I saw a few minutes ago, what matters is that my brain has switched on to photography: I am completely focussed on the visual world. Often what I see next is even better than what attracted my attention in the first place. This state of mind is absorbing, because I have to make a few decision quickly for each picture i am taking with my camera. If I neglect to control the capturing carefully, the picture is lost. To name the maybe most annoying lack: Either the image is on focus – or it is not.

A different world

For my STREET ART series, sometimes I strolled around in Manhattan for hours. Although I was photographing in neighbourhoods familiar to me, I was in a different world looking to see if one of these small spots would reveal an image to me. Being so focussed, being one with what I am doing, makes photographing intense, kind of like being in a trance state. But sooner or later I will get the feeling: I have seen it. This thought will bring me back to real life.

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