German Street Photography?

Discussion in 'Street' started by h.v., Jan 20, 2012.

  1. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    I was wondering if there were any established street photographers from Germany, you know, the kind that tends to have books published and whatnot? Likewise, are there any established American, British, French, or Japanese street photographers who have work from Germany?

    While it's cool seeing all sorts of talent photographing London, Chicago, Paris, Vancouver, NYC, Tokyo, Moscow, Rome, and Paris, it struck me as strange that I could never find anything aside from amateurs (where there is some damn good stuff out there) and people popular almost exclusively on the net from Europe's largest country in population (west of Russia). Why isn't there an Elliott Erwitt: Berlin or the like? I know there is also a handful of well established street photographers who were born in Germany or Austria, but ended up moving to the U.S. or the U.K. and establishing their career after moving, but what about street photographers in Germany?

    I would also be more than happy to learn of established street photographers that have either visited or live in Scandinavia, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Finland, and the Czech Republic.

    Thanks!
     
  2. julhu

    julhu Member

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    Because you need to get a permission (preferable a written one, but an oral agreement would do too) by the person pictured if you want to publish the pictures. If you do not ask you are only allowed to use the pictures privatly. If you plan to exhibit them you need to have a permission (that includes books, exhibits and any kind of internet presentation) and people usually do not like to sign stuff on the streets :wink:.

    Yes I take pictures of people in the streets and no I do not ask them for permission (usually) but I do not have any exhibitions (except online) :D.
     
  3. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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  4. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Julhu: Tell that to Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, etc. Street photography is not commercial photography, therefore the subjects can be published without permission as long as the purpose of it is art, even if you can gain financially from it. Just the same as taking a picture of a building or a bird. Do you need to go up to either and ask? Nope. Same thing. Or is Germany archaic like Quebec in this regard? That isn't something I'd expect from Germany.

    Mike: Thanks. Some of those were really good! No problem the photographer was Swiss, as I said it could be an outsider photographing German streetlife. And Switzerland was one of the places at the end I also mentioned.
     
  5. julhu

    julhu Member

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    h.v.: I think german law is a bit different there. Commercial photography is everything you make money from and if you make money with street photography than that would be commercial. That would explain why there are not as many street photos around from Germany as e.g. from New York.
    But as long as people do not sue you, you are fine and I guess most of them would not be bothered if pictured.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2012
  6. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Any other photographers anyone can think of?
     
  7. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Beat Streuli. Maybe not a retread of the mid-twentieth cent. compositions, motifs and techniques that most people associate with the label "street photographer" but a street photog. nonetheless.
     
  8. Gadfly_71

    Gadfly_71 Subscriber

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    Except that;

    a) Beat Streuli is Swiss, not German.

    And

    b) I don't think that he's ever done much (if any) street photography in Germany.

    I'm pretty sure that "traditional" street photography is nearly impossible in Germany due to rigorous privacy laws. I suppose you could do it, but you'd need to have a model release ready for each person that can be clearly seen in each photo you take. That said, I believe most German practitioners either shoot outside Germany or never show/sell their work.
     
  9. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    I'll definitely check out Streuli (name sounds familiar), thanks. Again, Swiss photography is cool, as I haven't really seen any published work from their either (or any of the locations I stated in the first post). That sucks that there are such harsh street photography laws in Germany, out of curiousity, are there any other European countries like that? I guess I'll mostly be sticking to the German street photography I can find on the web, of which there is a lot of high quality stuff, I'm guessing these photographers are exempt from the law because it isn't published or they're just not following the law or don't know it.

    Edit:

    Ah yes, upon searching Streuli on Google, I found out that I had seen his work before, in fact it was mentioned in here for the less accepted method of using a telephoto lens which caused a lot of his photos to turn out kind of uninteresting.
     
  10. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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  11. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Thanks David! I've seen Jürgen Bürgen's work before, very nice, though it'd be nice if I could see more. Unfortunately no books, just a few prints. Seconds2Real looks real interesting, having only looked through it a bit so far, as does Christian Reister (who's also on Seconds2Real). Neat that Christian has a book, Alex, but 31 euros for shipping and who knows how much in duties? Yikes! Is that last link yours? If so, you've got some nice stuff, kudos to you.
     
  12. janericeuler

    janericeuler Member

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    Stephan Vanfleteren (Belgium) - such a good yet not widely known photographer
     
  13. janericeuler

    janericeuler Member

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    oh and check out Boogie (serbia) at artcoup dot com
    he has done a lot of good work, also in europa and has a few nice book publications!
     
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  15. marciofs

    marciofs Member

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    August Sander!?

    He was a portrait photographers but manynof his portraits was shot from preople on the streets.
     
  16. AgX

    AgX Member

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    You got a misconception of the legal situation in Germany. It is of NO interest wether the photographer earns any money with those photos or not, not even of interest whether the photographer intends to earn money or not. Actually it is of no interest at all what the purpose of publishing is.

    There are exceptions to this rule, but basically it is not advisable to publish photographs of people on street without a a good evaluation of the situation or a consent. I myself was threatened with a legal case.

    That there are still a lot of such photos around can be explained by people not bothered or just not knowing about those photos or their legal position. Or they are detered by the costs a legal case may bring up.
     
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  17. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    That sums it up. From what I understand, here in Germany the privacy laws are the prevailing factor. I shoot on the street, and have been asked to delete photos that someone was in when it was digital. When it was film, I was told not to do it again. I was told by a Polizei that taking their photos on duty could be a crime, unless they consented prior. I didn't argue with him, he had 3 other officers with him, and a carload more pulled up less than a minute later.
     
  18. mhofmeist

    mhofmeist Member

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    Maybe it sucks when you are the photographer, but see it from the other side, too. People here feel molested by being photographed without their consent. They do not want to be forced to behave every moment as if they were under scrutiny, but be unselfconscious, without fearing that any embarrassing situation is shown to all the world. Not everything that happens in public is meant to be published.
    Attitudes towards privacy and such vary from country to country (and even among different parts of society within a country), there is no universal "right" or "wrong" in these matters. IMHO it is rather rude to judge other people's traditions or attitudes, nobody can claim to have the only "right" one.
     
  19. marciofs

    marciofs Member

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    I am not German and I take a lot of street photography in Gemany: http://www.marciofaustino.com/street.html

    img236.jpg

    I think there are less streets photographers in Europe for cultural reason.
    In America or UK is easy see people shooting in the streets and people don't mind. They ignore each other and don't care what they are doing.
    In Germany, France, etc, people check at what you are doing even if you are not doing anything and it may make photographers uncomfortable to have much attention to them.
    And people feel uneasy if you just try to have a casual chat while wait the bus in the bus stop. Take their pictures is even worst.

    Therefore I believe it is just cultural.

    Since I used to do a lot of street photograph in Ireland, I am so used to it that I feel comfortable to do the same in Germany. But even in Ireland where people don't care and even are happy to collaborate it took time to me build confidence to shoot in the streets. If I had to learn and start in German streets I think it would harder to me get confidence.
     
  20. AgX

    AgX Member

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    In the city of Krefeld, Germany it was even not tolerated by local regulation just to stand in the major shopping street watching people.
    One either had to look into shop-windows or just pass.
     
  21. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Holy thread revival, batman.

    It sucks for everyone, not just the photographer. It isn't always an us vs. them thing. I think we can all benefit from street photography. Where would we be, what would our ideas be of New York without those iconic photos taken in the '40s, '50s, and '60s? What about HCB's France, or his trek to the Soviet Union, or Bruce Davidson's portrait of American transit in the 1980s? Street photography is a way to document our society in it's truest manner for future generations, without the posing and political-correctness that comes with consent. Without street photography, what document of 2013 will there be in 50 years? Katherine Heigl rom-coms and a billion Instagram selfies? That only tells part of the tale of our modern world. We need street photography for an honest document of our world at different times. If we get all antsy and decide to just erect massive privacy laws to prevent this vital form of communication to occur, then we're going to be worse off.

    Molested, eh? That's a bit melodramatic. Klara Yoon and Severin Koller (yes, he's Austrian, but is in Berlin often*) seem to do fine. They aren't forced to be scrutinized or critiqued by their every gesture. People are just there, doing their own thing, and I think it's important to preserve those moments for future generations. These people are not generally scrutinized themselves in my experience, because while the photo may include them, the photo itself carries meaning far beyond them. It's their image that happens to represent something greater. I could care less if so and so did such and such, I just found something about them interesting, in an unbiased, impersonal manner. It's usually the photographer that is scrutinized, not really the subjects. As for being embarrassed, well, I think as a street photographer, I have to ensure that I do not publish a photo including someone that I could see being embarrassing. I think street photographers have a moral duty to ensure that their subject's likeness is not ruined by their photo being taken. Obviously, certain street photographers may have different opinions, but that's my stance.

    Honestly, I think we sometimes take ourselves too seriously in the West. People are a lot more laissez-faire about this, it seems, in the developing world.

    * Then again, I hear Berlin is a bit of an anomaly within Germany and have heard it referred to as very un-German. People seem to be more laid back, with less rigid schedules, more emphasis on the arts, so maybe that has to do with things working out better vis a vis street photography in Berlin.
     
  22. marciofs

    marciofs Member

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    I agree with h.v.

    The street photography I did in Dublin, look at them today, they tells me more about the Irish fashion, behaviour, look, tradition, street atmosphere and feelings than any photograph I look at the news. And I didn't do it on purpose. I just photograph people and scenes that catches my attention. Therefore, forbidding street photography is a big loss.

    As I said before, because of the culture people easily feel molested for any reason.
    When I see somebody falling or carrying heave things I usually offer my help. Despite my generosity they behave as if they are feeling molested. Sometimes they even ignore me as if they can't see or hear me. It does't mean that I will not be kind with people any more. If I see they don't want my help I go away.

    The same with photography. If they are not doing anything wrong, embarrassing, or too intimate in the streets, there is no reason to feel molested or shamed. But if I see that the person looks annoyed with my lens towards them, I look for other person to photograph. Not a big deal.
     
  23. marciofs

    marciofs Member

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  24. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    That's weird. But goes in line with my thought of taking ourselves too seriously. Things like that don't happen in North America often (if it does happen, you just brush it off), but I know obviously there is a difference between Europe and North America. If people feel that threatened by street photography, that's their problem, not mine. I know I'm not doing anything wrong, and that's what matters.
     
  25. marciofs

    marciofs Member

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    I thought it was very weird too but after a couple of months you become used to it. A very big impact for me after living some Years in Ireland where people are always offering their help and very open to chat at any time to anybody.

    But as I said, I continuous being kind and it doesn't mean that it is wrong just because there are some people who feels uncomfortable.

    Since I don't know who mind or who don't, I photograph in the streets. If a person shows he doesn't want be photographed I don't shot. All they have to do is give me a sign and I will know. And I never hide myself. I shoot with 85mm lens and my subjects are just a few meters from me.

    It is like talking to women. You will never know who will talk to you or who won't if you don't talk. Some will talk with you and will have a nice chat. Some others will pretend they can't see you or even go away as if you were a pervert just because you say "Hi" to them.
     
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  26. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    holy thread revival again Batman

    Im not going to take a holiday to Germany then... is there not a Ge tourist board?

    It does explain my problems with a French cine team in London they were interviewing people in street but protested volubly that I had not asked permission - they were not shooting, I waited until they finished an interview.

    Only one of their team thought it risible that I ignored their protests instead shooting the protest sequence.

    Many people think it is obligatory to ask first, and will complain, even when they know they have not been the subject, so it is a formal thing to complain. Some instead ask what are you taking photos of from curiosity.

    Visitors from Sweden have complained about the surveillance video cameras, stock answer 'this is 1984 and we also have a state lottery' lots of people are offended by the cameras and lottery. Bit like Ms Merkel and her mobile phone tap.

    London is the place for 'cinema verity' style street. I have no connection with the tourist industry.