Of all the many types of genres within photography, I realized early on that architectural photography fascinated me most.
I was photographing architectural details and graphic elements on our cities’ buildings as far back as the 90s when I was studying civil engineering. Frequently I would develop the film material – which was still analog at the time – and exposed the desired prints myself.
I took up digital photography when I lived in Hamburg and then especially Berlin for several years. Numerous building sites and a very heterogeneous architectonic environment from the East & West era as well as all kinds of cultural periods were a perfect opportunity to indulge my passion, and work on my style.
In the beginning I used Flickr to present my pictures to a larger audience. However, I always felt that Flickr and other classic 2.0 photography portals were overloaded, didn’t live up to their potential, and were too anonymous. Even the latest attempts by these services to make up lost territory with its users through up-to-date mobile applications has not convinced me so far. Its usability to date, I feel, is inadequate and the complicated work flows just add to an unfavorable user experience.
I was therefore all the more delighted when I discovered Instagram in December 2010 and set up my account. Since then Instagram has been my primary publication medium for my photography, however, I do use other networks to make my photography available to interested viewers outside of Instagram.
I am fascinated by Instagram’s 1:1 relationship between photographer and viewer, because the picture is sent from the smartphone in my hand to the smartphone in the hand of the viewer. I find this is a very personal process and means a lot to me; and furthermore it helps to develop new friendships.
The principle of ‘following’, which is an essential feature of EyeEm and Instagram, is used on many social media platforms. Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and also tumblr are well-known examples of it. However, there are often communication problems if the sender speaks Portuguese, Japanese, or Finnish. For distinct photo communities this is not the case, because the users let their pictures do the talking. The mobile photography of Instagram or EyeEM overcomes any language barrier and revealed to me that completely different picture languages exist on the various continents. I knew about this before, of course, but it was only through these photo platforms that it was made really clear to me. When you look at the picture aesthetics of many users from Asia, South America, and, for example, Northern Europe, they could hardly be more different.
In a remarkably simple way, Instagram shows me the emotional states of its users: What moves them, what they are thinking of, what they wish for, and what they long for. This is true not only for general occasions like, for example, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, big sporting events, but also in more private settings like weddings, birthdays, births, bereavements, holidays, or consumer behavior. In so far Instagram is a great ‘realtime monitoring tool’ to observe what people are currently occupied with.
But back to architecture…obviously every building is intended for a certain use, because people live, work, study in it, do sport, make music or relax, shop there, or use it as a transfer point to get from A to B.
This intended use is decisive when it comes to the design of the building. However, I don’t want to emphasize the functional advantages and potentials of a building in my pictures, although builders often expect this from an architectural photographer, but I want to bring out the aesthetic subtleties and the beauty of construction details, which in day-to-day life often remain hidden from those of us who live in larger urban centers.
These details determine the physical appearance of our living spaces and are a kind of city alphabet, which I want to explore in my photos and depict in a picture language of my own. In doing so I always endeavor to avoid a high degree of abstraction and to give the viewer a handle on size ratios within the picture, to enable them to make sense of and categorize the subject.
Looking back, I am able to say that working with Instagram has refined my style and is continuing to develop it further. But more about the way I work in my next post.
Works as a creative thinker in the internet sector and contributes as a photo columnist to AD Architectural Digest Germany.