Thomas Klingberg, born in 1971 in Gelsenkirchen, lives and works in Düsseldorf as a freelance photographer and visual artist. His work is fundamentally divided into two areas, with his central artistic focus being documentary photography, in particular the recording and depiction of socially relevant themes. As an attentive flaneur, Klingberg also captures the poetry of everyday life in his snapshots. As his focus is fundamentally on social issues, the boundaries between the two areas of work are often blurred.

“The power of a single moment, captured in a single photograph, can often tell as complete a story as an entire series of images. The crucial difference is that when looking at a single image, many nuances and details emerge in the mind of the viewer, completing the story in an individual way.”

In his photographic work, Klingberg explores the fringes of society and strives to give the viewers of his works a deep, unadulterated insight into the realities of the protagonists’ lives. He wants to encourage reflection on what is shown and to promote understanding and acceptance for non-linear ways of life. In doing so, Klingberg searches for the central photographic messages that convey both despair and tragedy as well as hope, dignity, longing and departure in his works.

One example of this is the publication “Brüche und Aufbrüche” (Breaks and Departures), which Klingberg published together with the WDR journalist Frank Menke in 2021. In interviews and photographs, it presents the realities of life, wishes and dreams of seven long-term unemployed people. The project was honoured with an invitation of all protagonists to the city hall of the state capital Düsseldorf and a reception by the mayor Klaudia Zepuntke.

My photographs are honest reflections of human experiences and challenges. In my pictures, the focus is on depicting the often overlooked dignity and despair, but also the contrasting facets of social realities.

Another field of his artistic work is the stylised and poetic depiction of supposedly everyday scenes and border events. Through the deliberate selection of his photographic perspectives, Klingberg gives special meaning to seemingly ordinary moments and people who are often overlooked in everyday life. He wants to invite the viewers of his photographs to discover the diversity and specialness in the everyday and to take a closer look.

“For me, every shot is a narrative that conveys more than just visual aesthetics – it is at least a constant attempt to do so.”

Klingberg has presented numerous solo and group exhibitions both at home and abroad. In 2022, he took part in the juried NRW State Art Exhibition at Dortmunder U / Museum Ostwall. In 2017, he received a two-month working scholarship from the renowned Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow. In 2016, he presented his photo documentary “FORST” in Düsseldorf, in which he photographically accompanied people with unconventional life histories as part of an integration and resocialisation measure. In 2013, the photographer exhibited his portrait series “Faces of Dementia” in Gelsenkirchen in the Nordsternturm and simultaneously in the Collection Werner Thiel, supported by the German Alzheimer Society.

“The majority of my work consists of a nuanced web of appreciation, empathy, careful attention, observation, recognition and the preservation of my gratitude that I can capture a moment photographically and be so close to a person. Ein kleiner Prozentsatz besteht aus der Hoffnung, dass meine Werke Betrachter dazu anregen, über das Gesehene nachzudenken. The artistic contribution is negligible and fades into the significance of the actual photographic moment.”

Klingberg works in interdisciplinary projects with municipal, social and cultural institutions as well as with artists and artist groups from a wide range of genres. In 2015, together with the artist, poet and urban gardening activist Petrus Akkordeon, he presented the exhibition “Bildsprachen/Sprachbilder” in Berlin, a combination of photographs and poems. Together with the Spiegel bestselling author Susanne Schmidt, Klingberg realised the exhibition in public space “Poesie und Alltag – Zwischen Gleisen” (Poetry and Everyday Life – Between Tracks) in Berlin-Schöneberg in 2017, funded by the City of Berlin. Together with the visually impaired artist Bärbel Frank, he exhibited the series “Starke Typen” (Strong Types) in Hamburg in 2013, in which Bärbel Frank made Klingberg’s photographs tactilely interpretable for visually impaired and blind people through the application of small objects of varying haptic quality. The project was supported by the Hamburg Foundation for the Blind.

In addition to presenting his works in conventional galleries, art forums or typical exhibition spaces, Klingberg also likes to consider unusual exhibition venues. He uses factory halls, public spaces, empty shops, churches, backyards, shops and public institutions. His aim is to reach people with his work who rarely or never visit classic exhibition spaces.

Klingberg has published several publications, illustrated books and exhibition catalogues documenting his artistic work. He is a member of the German Association of Visual Artists and the German Media Association.