Photo book Stadt Altag Umwelt. Photo workshop in Düsseldorf

Foto: Sabine Heidenreich


The final project of a photo workshop in Düsseldorf has resulted in a photo book with texts and a foreword by the Department of the Environment.

Documentary Photography Workshop with the Smartphone: Conscious Seeing and Perceptual Focusing

Bildband, entstanden aus einem Fotoworkshop in Düsseldorf

According to an estimate by the maker of the APP Mylio, a special application for organising image files, more than 1.7 trillion snapshots were taken digitally in 2017, 85 % of them with a smartphone. In total, Mylio estimates that 4.7 trillion digital photos are stored worldwide, whether in cloud services, on smartphones or hard drives. A proud number. Many of these digital snapshots end up on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Most of them, however, remain unseen.

Not unseen are 40 photographs taken with smartphones by participants in one of my documentary photography workshops in Düsseldorf. At the beginning we asked ourselves whether it was at all possible to seriously and seriously create a photographic documentation with the smartphone alone. The answer: yes. From the beginning, our common goal was not to produce technically brilliant photographs. Rather, we were interested in conveying thoughts and impressions on a clearly defined topic with the help of the medium of photography. The focus of this workshop was on conscious photographic seeing, focusing and directing one’s own perception and creating compositionally appealing photographs.

The challenge: 3 days for a photographic documentation

The theme was found quite quickly. Together we agreed on the theme of city and environment. The aim was to produce a photo book in which the participants would convey their personal views on the chosen topic in photographs and text – the latter in the form of captions. The challenge: We only had three days from the planning to the creation of the photographs to the formulation of the last caption.

“I strongly recommend this book, its images and thoughts to you: see Düsseldorf without glitz and glamour, but with its own aesthetics and with texts that radiate thoughtfulness, modesty and mindfulness – and perhaps try to imagine how we can “enliven” and improve everyday life and the environment in the city.”

Helga Stulgies, Head of the Environment Department of the State Capital Düsseldorf

5 exemplary photographs from the photo workshop


Preparation, execution, review

On the first day we met for a brainstorming session. First we decided on the location of the event. We agreed on the area around Düsseldorf’s Karolingerplatz in the Bilk district. Then we worked out a kind of storyboard in which we wrote down what was important to us in the topic of city and environment and how we could finally realise our ideas photographically.

On the following day, we finally started taking pictures. First we worked through the storyboard, but without closing ourselves off to motifs that arose almost out of nowhere because of the close connection to our task. It is always impressive for me to observe the inspirational power that results from focusing on a specific theme in photographic work. That’s why I always advise new photographers to work on a clearly defined task.

Day three of the photo workshop. We reviewed all the photographs and discussed the results of our work, reflecting on the previous day and discussing the image content, talking about what was good and what could perhaps have been better or different. Afterwards, the participants created the captions for their photographs. Our photographic documentation was finished.


“The wonderful pictures created under the guidance of Thomas Klingberg touch, admonish and encourage. They are whimsical, also infuriating and put their finger in the wounds of our city.”

Britta Zweigner, CEO renatec GmbH

Listing of environmental apps

In order to enhance the publication and make it more informative, the participants of the photo workshop had the idea to collect valuable environmental apps, which are listed in part 2 of the publication in the form of photographable QR codes.

Poetic encounter

On photographic forays, one always experiences interesting encounters. We met the cheerful and friendly florist Kasra at Karolingerplatz, who let the participants tell him details about the photo workshop with interest. Finally, he pulled out a few loose sheets of paper from under the counter, on which he had written poems himself, and read some to us. His poem “Am Karolingerplatz” can be read in the publication.


Contributing authors:

Christina Burchhartz
Marcello Fossel
Sabine Heidenreich
Sabrina Lange
Jacinta Ngina Monica

Download e-Publication

The publication City. Everyday Life. Environment. – Fotografische Alltagsbetrachtungen can be downloaded here as an ePUB file free of charge. An eBook reader is required for viewing.

→ Download Publication as ePub (89MB)
View Publication als PDF-Flip-Book


Stadt. Alltag. Umwelt.
Fotografische Alltagsbetrachtungen
40 Farbfotografien und Texte
80 Seiten auf 170g Fotopapier, matt
Druck und Verlag: epubli GmbH, Berlin
Preis: EUR 36,50

look for a local book shop


This article was posted on July 20, 2019