Stadt Altag Umwelt Bildband

Photo: Sabine Heidenreich

CITY. EVERYDAY LIVE. ENVIRONMENT. From the final project of a photo workshop a picture book with texts is created.

By Thomas Klingberg

According to an estimate by the manufacturer of APP Mylio, a special application for organizing image files, more than 1.7 trillion snapshots were taken digitally in 2017, 85% of which were taken 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 figure. 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 a smartphone of participants in one of my documentary photography workshops in Düsseldorf. At the beginning, we asked ourselves whether it was even possible to seriously and seriously create photographic documentation using a smartphone alone. The answer: Yes. Right from the start, our common goal was not to produce technically brilliant photographs. Rather, our aim was to convey thoughts and impressions on a clearly defined topic with the aid of photography as a medium. The focus of this workshop was on conscious photographic seeing, focusing and directing one’s own perception as well as the creation of compositionally appealing photographs.

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

On the first day we met for a brainstorming session. We first determined the location of the event. We agreed on the area around the Düsseldorfer Karolingerplatz in the district Bilk. Afterwards we worked out a kind of storyboard, in which we wrote down what is important to us with the topic city and environment and how we can convert our ideas finally photographically.

The following day we started to take pictures. At first we worked through the storyboard, but we didn’t close our eyes to motifs that came out of nowhere because of the close relationship to our task. It’s always impressive for me to see the inspirational power that comes from focusing on a certain theme. That’s why I always advise new photographers to work on a clearly defined task.

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

Helga Stulgies, Head of the Environmental Department of the City of Düsseldorf


Day three. We looked at all the photographs and discussed the results of our work, reflected on the previous day and discussed the contents of the pictures, talked about what was good and what might have been better or different. Afterwards the participants created the captions to their photographs. Our photographic documentation was finished.

The result of our photo workshop must have pleased the department for environmental protection of the state capital Duesseldorf so much that we could win the head of the environmental department, Mrs. Helga Stulgies, to write a foreword for this photo book.

This article was posted on July 20, 2019

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