Discovering Berlin through a cutting-edge street photography collective
BERLIN1020 is a street photography collective in Berlin, formed by Alex Pfeiffer, Chris "Candid" Schirrmacher, Martin U Waltz, Oliver Krumes, Roland Groebe and Sebastian Jacobitz.
Chris "Candid" Schirrmacher and Martin U Waltz were both commended in the Open Competition of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards. Chris "Candid" Schirrmacher was totally surprised that his photo came in the top 50: He said “It was a great honor. My photo showed a Japanese woman who I photographed in Tokyo. I really wanted to experiment with my flashing light and, above all, capture the movement of people in Tokyo.” In the case of Waltz, he explains how been commended was “a pleasant surprise and got some exposure. Yet, life goes on.”
We spoke with the six photographers behind this group who live in Germany and share the same passion for street photography.
How did you become interested in photography?
- Alex Pfeiffer: I was traveling with a friend of Thomas Leuthard through South Korea and Japan, and he took me on a first street photography walk. Since then, I fell in love with the challenging and fascinating field of photography.
- Chris "Candid" Schirrmacher: I photograph since my youth - I photographed everything, from landscapes to wedding photography. I love street photography.
- Martin U Waltz: I started to do photography as a teenager. The passion for photography has stayed with me all my life.
- Oliver Krumes: As long as I can remember, photography has played an important role in my life. For a long time, I thought that I was a bit strange when I was constantly walking through the city photographing people and architecture.
- Sebastian Jacobitz: After my first little job during my university studies, I found myself with a small gift from my former employer. I invested it in an DSLR and this is where it all began. Roland Groebe: Many years ago, I was fascinated by the idea of freezing time for all to see.
How did the idea of creating a collective come up? Why did you focus on street photography?
- Alex Pfeiffer: Street photography is something, where all of us can have his own unique style, no bounds to any client, no envies, just creativity and the joint effort to show the fascinating and vibrating streets of Berlin.
- Chris "Candid" Schirrmacher: Martin and I developed the idea of founding a collective. We saw a lot of good street photographers in Berlin and a lot of potential. Above all, we wanted to focus on our hometown. We were looking for the best photographers and different ways of seeing Berlin.
- Martin U Waltz: I think street photographers are typically loners. So the idea was to to create a group of people who could discuss ideas, projects or simply meet for a beer and a joint photo walk.
- Oliver Krumes: Berlin is a huge city with many photographers and also with a reasonable number of street photographers. A street photographer tends to be the lonely wolf in the urban desert so we wanted to change that. I think we made a good choice - there’s so much we have achieved in the last 3 years.
- Sebastian Jacobitz: Street Photographers are often described as "lone wolves" that go hunting alone. But as wolves already know, there are many benefits in working as a pack. Street Photography is a very natural first choice when living in a vivid city such as Berlin.
Where do you find inspiration?
- Alex Pfeiffer: On one hand I like to watch other photographers work, but the strongest inspiration is just to walk the streets of Berlin, watching what happens around you, with an eye for details and the small things out there. Sometimes it is a good inspiration not to take the camera out, and just to focus on what you see and let it have an effect on you.
- Chris "Candid" Schirrmacher: I find my inspiration especially from photobooks and exhibitions. Nevertheless you should always find inspiration yourself.
Martin U Waltz: Life as it unfolds is incredibly inspirational. I very much like to see photography in museums and galleries. I study everything that is visually appealing to me.
- Oliver Krumes: I find inspiration in art galleries and exhibitions, but also on the work of fellow street photographers, who inspire me with their unique style and approach to photography. My artistic role models are photographers like Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey, Helen Levitt or Trent Parke.
- Sebastian Jacobitz: Sources of inspiration can be anything in life. Movies, music, other photographs, but mainly it is the city itself and its impressions.
- Roland Groebe: Creating a photograph that evokes a feeling, an emotion, or a response from a viewer is what drives and inspires me. The world is full of stories to tell. Inspiration is all around us.
When and where do you prefer shooting?
- Alex Pfeiffer: I like the early morning time in the local non-touristy districts of a big city, with a wonderful light and the special mood when the city awakes.
- Chris "Candid" Schirrmacher: I photograph where life is raging. In Berlin, mainly at the Zoo station - where beggars and freaks are at home. Time does not matter. I have to have time for it, because I'm just a photographer for my own pleasure.
- Martin U Waltz: Obviously in Berlin. I have some favorite locations, yet I always try to look for new places. I'm interested in all the different times during day and night. Shooting in the rain for example is not very comfortable, yet a great way to create amazing visuals.
- Oliver Krumes: My works incorporate mostly vivid contrasts, geometrical forms and humans in daily life actions, therefore I almost only shoot in urban areas with lively street life and dominant architecture. My home base Berlin is a cultural vivid and diversified city that offers plenty of places like that, which are most beautiful when the sunlight creates hard shadows after 3pm.
- Sebastian Jacobitz: I prefer shooting on streets that are full of life and contrasts. As such, the Berlin Ku'Damm has become my "home turf".
- Roland Groebe: Always and everywhere.
Do you have a photography philosophy?
- Alex Pfeiffer: Be kind, friendly and open-minded, be true to yourself and don't let anyone tell you who you are.
- Chris "Candid" Schirrmacher: The shortest path between people is a smile - that's why I try to make people smile while taking photos. Because those who smile cannot be a bad photographer. Above all, my street photography is colorful - as colorful as life. Black and white photos make me more sad and melancholy. In addition, I continue to experiment with flash - so I am open to everything.
- Martin U Waltz: Certainly. To me photography is a reflection of reality, in many ways a reduced essence of reality. I strive for photos that are captivating and emotionally moving.
- Oliver Krumes: Search for light, not for locations.
- Sebastian Jacobitz: I just try to shoot anything that is interesting to me, not following any particular philosophy, but trusting my instincts that are telling me which subject or scene might we worth sharing to the world.
- Roland Groebe: Sometimes I am a storyteller, but most of the time I am just trying to describe the world of my vision. The only proof of these visions is the millisecond that will remain eternally alive and will never be repeated again.
How did you come up with the idea of the best walks in Berlin?
- Alex Pfeiffer: Everyone of us is living in a different district with its special mood and impressions, where we also shoot most of the time. So this is a possibility to introduce these districts and walks to visitors by someone who knows the area well and can give first-hand advice.
- Chris "Candid" Schirrmacher: We have regular requests from photographers visiting our city. Unfortunately, we do not always have time to take care of them. That's when we came up with the idea of writing our best photo tours for street photographers on a blog. So everyone can find a route.
Martin U Waltz: I got so many questions from Berlin’s visitors about where to go that I eventually wrote a blog post. Over the years I added an extended that post. It is the most read article on my blog these days.
- Oliver Krumes: I was lucky to shoot in cities all over the world and relied on recommendations of befriended street photographers. Since many street photography fellows paid revisits to Berlin, it was natural that questions about when and where to shoot in Berlin popped up. Although Berlin is constantly changing, there are constant places for interesting shoots, which are presented in our photo tour walks.
See the gallery with more images taken by photographers from BERLIN1020, the Berlin Street Photography Collective: