Bastian, born 1977, lives in Hamburg with his wife and two daughters. The self-taught photographer dedicates himself to street photography since 2012. He mainly focusses on placing subjects in urban surroundings. Bastian started with shooting in color, but then developed a major interest in black and white photography over time.
In his current project “adrift” Bastian is looking into being adrift in day to day life and how to put yourself into place, in a figuratively and literal sense.
Bastian is an entrepreneur and shopkeeper of the KAUFHAUS HAMBURG. Since 2019 he is working on a photography // showroom project in the heart of Hamburg, St. Georg, together with landscape photographer Markus Albert . The name erstereihe.hamburg means front row and refers to pulling out the exceptional photography of the digital second row into the front row. Opening will be spring 2019.
Bastian, Jahrgang 1977, lebt in Hamburg. Er ist verheiratet und hat zwei Töchter. Der Autodidakt widmet sich seit 2012 dem Genre der Street Photography. Er konzentriert sich dabei immer wieder auf das Platzieren des Objektes im Umfeld grosser Städte. Dabei spielen Geometrie und Position ein wesentliche Rolle. Angefangen in Farbe entwickelte sich im Laufe der Zeit ein großes Interesse an der Schwarzweiss Fotografie.
In seinem derzeitigen Projekt “adrift” beschäftigt er sich mit dem Umhertreiben im täglichen Leben und dem “seinen Platz finden”, im wörtlichen wie metaphorischen Sinne.
Bastian ist Unternehmer und Inhaber des KAUFHAUS HAMBURG. Seit 2019 arbeitet er mit Landschaftsfotograf Markus Albert an einem photography // showrom Projekt im Herzen St. Georgs in Hamburg. Der Name erstereihe.hamburg verweist auf das Hervorholen der besonderen Fotografie aus der digitalen zweiten, - in die erste Reihe. Eröffnung Frühling 2019.
Interview with Don Springer, Inspired Eye Magazine
Please tell us something about you, your life and interest.
I am born 1977 and live in Hamburg, Germany with my wife and two daughters. I am a self-taught photographer and dedicate myself to street photography since 2012. I have worked in many professions, for example in the hotel business, film business and as an audio engineer. Since 2012 I am shopkeeper here in Hamburg. I never thought I am creative person. I was never taught that. Until I found photography. And now I also play the guitar. So I guess I was wrong (;
What inspired you to become a photographer?
Many years ago I started to realize that some of my vacation pictures catched my eye in a different way than the others. They were more than family-holiday pictures. I began trying to reproduce more of those kind of pictures. Then I started to look around and discovered photographers that I like, friends and family members and of course well known and famous ones. I observed what they did and tried to copy them. I tried many cameras and many ways of tweaking my pictures. So I was drawn into photography by my own pictures and by the idols in my photographic world.
What age are you and at what age did you start your journey as a photographer?
I turn 42 in April and I started to make photographs as an advanced hobby in 2012/2013 when I was about 36. Last year I started to take it to the next level by going out on purpose more and by thinking about why I do this, and what I want to express.
Would you mind sharing some of the things you feel helped you along the way with your photography, (lessons, workshops, books etc)....and also some of the things that may have hindered you that you overcame on this journey?
I always need guidance when I learn something new. So I started with online lessons, books and workshops very quickly as soon I discovered photography. Technical workshops at first and then I slowly went to take the ones that taught creative techniques and post processing. I would like to point out the Leica Master Class with Robert Mertens which was about developing your own visual language and the Leica Master Class B/W with Alan Schaller which awaked the love for B/W in me. Those two besides all others started a tremendous process in my mind that is still going on right now.
The things that most hindered me were the same that inspired me. After some workshops I felt crushed because it got all stirred up in my mind.
Some other photographers that I admire also still leave me clueless today with words like ‘how do they do it’, ‘why can’t I do this’ and ‘when will I be like them’ in my head.
And of course Instagram. It inspires, but it distracts. It connects, but it seduces. I like it, I need it, but I have to watch carefully what it does to my work.
Do you feel photography enhances your life? If so, how?
Absolutely! I feel a deep satisfactions to create something out of my hands. Photography soothes my soul and it keeps me grounded in my hectical daily routines in the big city I live in. When I walk the city with my camera, I am living the moment. I observe everything, listen to all sounds, smell and feel. No other activity lets me be so deep in the moment than this. I think it is the opposite of what I do the rest of the time, when I am adrift in thoughts, planning the next steps ahead or overthinking the moments that have already passed. This is actually the topic of the project “adrift” I am currently working on.
If we are speaking specifically of photographers, which are the ones of the past and present do you admire?
What purpose does photography serve for you?
It makes me happy. When it does not, that’s because It pulls me out of my comfort zone which leads to more happiness after all.
Do you do photography for hire or as an art form?
I am doing it as an art form.
What do you do for work and how does photography fit into that?
I own a concept store for design and accessories in Hamburg and since the beginning of this year I am running a photography//showroom where I have my studio and present fine art photography of other artists.
I’ve juggled family life, work and photography the past years and there has always been the feeling of not having enough time for my passion. But I managed to be able to do photography almost full time now. I try to go out on the street everyday. And I travel a lot with my camera.
What Genre' of photography are you most comfortable working in?
Street Photography. I sometimes sense an upcoming interest for staging scenes. I am open to this. Maybe one day I’ll take full control over my frame, who knows.
When you work, are you working on different series or just finding photos that fit the way you feel at the moment?
In the beginning I collected pictures as they came to me for the first couple of years. But then I discovered how they are connected. This lead to my project “adrift” where I look into being adrift in thoughts in our day to day life and how we are all trying to put ourselves into place while we live our city life. I guess even when I am just strolling the streets, I still have this in the back of my mind.
Can you describe a few of the trigger mechanisms that make you want to stop and shoot?
That is still a myth to myself from time to time. Sometimes I walk for hours and I don’t see anything. I come home with zero pictures. Then the next day I see million things on my way to work. I think it depends how my mindset is in this very moment.
But what always works for me are frames in any form. Geometric frames, subframes or the ones that are more organic. Also people that seem to be somewhere else in their mind strike me a lot. And of course light. Like a fly (:
How strong of a connection do you have with your subject matter and can you describe that connection?
My current project “adrift” is about other people, but actually it is also about me. I try to stop the drift by capturing moments that let me be aware of the now. A little bit like meditation, like striving for attentiveness.
What are your recurring themes?
Putting people in the right place in my frame. Often with geometry and subframes. Postures. Capturing a non reconstructable moment.
What is the distance to your subject you are most comfortable with while working?
Good question. I think I used to love the distance in the beginning. But I often have Robert Capa in mind who said that if your pictures aren’t good enough you weren't close enough. And I really love the work of Bruce Gilden. So according to this I am working on getting out of my comfort zone and get closer if necessary.
What is your favorite Focal Length or Field of View?
Right now I have a 24mm on my camera most of the time. But I always carry a 15mm and a 75mm with me. I switch frequently. Depending on my composition.
What camera are you working with currently?
I am working with a Leica M Monochrom, it can only do black and white.
How do you see the relationship with your camera? Is it a friend, tool or whatever?
A tool. Since the Leica M is a rangefinder and has no auto focus I have to prefocus or be very quick. But in retrospective I can say that my serious photography started when I got my first Leica M in 2013. Due to the lack of features I need to focus more on the frame in prior. I have to anticipate a lot. I had to throw away a lot of good pictures because I didn’t focus right. This forced me into be more precise, and more thoughtful. The camera and its nature fits perfectly into my way of seeing photography. A way to decelerate in my daily hectical life in the big city.
Do you have a preference for Black & White or Color? Please explain why.
Black and white. It is easier for me to focus on only two “colors”. I love the aesthetics and it is a reminiscence to the old days where it all began in black and white.
Are you self-taught, educated or a little bit of both?
Self taught with help of many photographers I met on my way.
How do you feel about being photographed?
I actually asked myself last week on how many street photographs I am on. I would love to see them. But I think I am a very bad model. I just cannot pose or anything, so don’t ask me, just shoot (:
Do you like to work by yourself or to have someone with you? Please explain why.
All alone. I am thwarted as soon someone is next to me. Especially when that someone is also carrying a camera. I had no choice for many years since I travel a lot with my family, so I had to learn to shoot besides them being around, without ruining their vacation by waiting on the streets for hours (; but luckily I am now able to travel a lot alone in addition to our family vacations.
Do you listen to music while you are shooting? How do you feel the music enhances the visual experience?
No. It distracts me. I often hear a song in my mind when I see a frame evolving in front of me. But I need to hear the sound of my surrounding. As for creative reasons and at last for security reasons. Sometimes I am literally in the middle of the street. So I have my ears that warn me of the traffic.
Do you have a preference for images as an analog or as a digital state?
I am fully digital.
How important is the post-processing of the pictures in your work?
Very important. When I press the shutter I have a picture in my head of how I want it to look like in the end. So I use a lot of Lightroom tools to get there. Sometimes I need days, and let the edit rest a bit, because I need distance to “see” again. I worked as an audio engineer for many years and there I learned to refresh my ears in doing something else for a while. That also works well in photography.
Where in the world are you located?
In Hamburg in the north of Germany.
Where is your favorite place to work?
London! I love this city in every way. A metropolis with history everywhere and yet it is so modern and at the pulse of time. I just love it there.
When you’re feeling somewhat slow or lost, how do you find your way back to find inspiration to get working again?
In taking a break and doing something else. Leave the camera at home or switch it of. Then I remind myself that I have plenty of time, in fact my whole life. No need to hurry and to stress it. Again it is about deceleration. Many of my idols took years for their most famous projects.
Do you exhibit your work in any form?
Yes, in my showroom in the heart of Hamburg, where I fulfilled my dream of a studio. A place where it is all about photography. Also I am working on finding places to exhibit my work besides my own place in the future.
Do you go to exhibitions or do so on the web?
Yes, very often. We have plenty of galleries and museums here in Hamburg. And I try to visit exhibitions when I travel.
Do you collect other photographers work?
Not really, I have a couple of pieces but they are more of personal value to me.
How do you feel about the current state of photography?
Not done. In progress. As a very successful and famous photographer just said to me in a workshop “You are in your photographic puberty.” I think I can relate to that. (:
How satisfied are you in your current state of photography and what would you like to improve upon?
I am more satisfied than yesterday but want to be more tomorrow. I am focussing a lot on my heart and my intention. Another quote of a famous photographer: ”You got to know who you really are, to make good photographs.” Bruce Gilden said that. This is exactly what I am up to.
Can you describe how you judge the success or failure of your work?
Tough question. - An honest answer would be, by the amount of applause of the audience. An exemplary one would be, by my own feelings. I think it is a mix of both. And sometimes the applause matches my own degree of satisfaction. When this occurs I would call it success.
What would you be doing now if you had not picked up the camera?
Hopefully I would have picked up any other instrument to express my creativity. I play guitar as a hobby. Maybe I would have focussed more on music. Actually now saying this I am pretty sure I would have picked up the guitar (:
What do you dislike about photography?
I thought about it for quite a while, but I can’t find anything.
If you would like to make a closing statement, we’d love to hear what you have to say.
Thank you for the opportunity to be featured here! I appreciate what you do for the community. We all need exposure and we all love to show our work! Keep it up!