Twenty years in California

In May of 1994 I relocated from Berlin, Germany to Los Angeles, California. Although it is called the Golden State it took me a while to get used to the never ending sunshine and easy disposition of it’s inhabitants. After all the Berlin I left behind was just undergoing to biggest transformation since the end of Second World War — the fall of the Berlin Wall.

When I moved to San Francisco in one of the rainiest winters and started to work on a masters program in photography I started to seek out some local photographers of German heritage. Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006) was already well into her nineties when somehow I got permission to interview her for a German newspaper in her elegantly appointed apartment in Pacific Heights. The article never got published, but the visit with her was very quite remarkable.

Ruth inspired me to keep looking at what speaks to me and “never say no”. At some point she made money photographing people’s pets and dolls, and even those she somehow turned into art.

Doorknobinlight The illuminated doorknob was inspired by the work of Ruth Bernhard. Beauty is in everyday life.

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Keep calm and photograph on

The early summer finds me teaching photography to middle school students. While all have access to digital snap and shoot cameras and most use Iphones for their selfies, there is a demand to learn more about the “real” photography, namely putting analogue film into cameras which will let you manipulate or control the exposure.
Usually I bring my 50 year old Hasselblad to the first class and try to give them a short run down on the technical aspects of exposing your film, but too often have to realize this is a hard concept to grasp without going through all the motions yourself (and a lot of trial and error).
Some of them will fix their parent’s old cameras and hopefully become proficient, others will just stick to their fast and furious Iphones with the reliable delete function. In any case, it is always inspiring to see their unique ideas come to light. Check out my newest facebook cover photo which was taken by one of my students. First typed the sentence on an old typewriter, spelling errors and all, than photographed and quickly shared via social media. I do like the motto and would like to make it my own.

Photo for Thursday, 15th May

Henri Cartier-Bresson Retrospective in San Francisco

Henri Cartier-Bresson – the photographer of the decisive moment – is currently having a major retrospective at the SFMOMA. The show will be on display from October 30, 2010 until January 30, 2011.
I would encourage everyone to see this show. Cartier-Bresson is one of the giants of 20th century photography.

An excerpt from the introduction to the show from SFMOMA’s website.

An innovative artist, trailblazing photojournalist, and quintessential world traveler, Henri Cartier-Bresson ranks among the most accomplished and original figures in the history of photography. His inventive images of the early 1930s helped define the creative potential of the medium, and his uncanny ability to capture life on the run made his work synonymous with “the decisive moment.” This major retrospective offers a fresh look at Cartier-Bresson’s entire career, revealing him as one of the great portraitists of the 20th century and one of its keenest observers of the global theater of human affairs.