Hello. How are you? How is Köln? How is life?

Hi. I am doing well, enjoying this wonderful early fall season with lots of photo-events in this beautiful city. “How is Köln?” is an awkward question, since I cannot tell you how a whole city is doing. 🙂 Life is busy, but good.

Your images have vivid colors, strong contrast, always showing life outside, on the streets, life inside a building. Is this your job, looking for life, photographing? On Instagram, one can read that you are a pastor, as well. Tell me more.

Photography is a hobby I am pretty passionate about. I love to find and amplify the colors and structures of the city. Since I shoot 99% mobile, my photography is happening “on the go”. I actually work at an all-day-elementary-school (OGTS) part time. The other time I study to become an intercultural trainer and also as the pastor of a little free church we planted. I had been doing youth ministry full time for nine years before we moved to Cologne to start this new church (soulfirekoeln.de), that I help lead and pastor.

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When did you start taking photos? How can one become a better visual person?

I remember taking pictures as a little boy, being maybe 8 or 9 years old. My mom had given me a Kodak Disc 4000, and I played around with that for a little while. But my passion really began with my first smartphone, resp. my first iPhone, the 4. I right away joined Instagram. That was maybe 4 years ago. Of course there needs to be some kind of natural talent, but if you have that, you can work on developing it. My advice would be to study the basic rules of composition etc., look at photography (good and bad) and take pictures, in other words: practice. One advantage of the digital age is that you can take hundreds of pictures a day and it doesn’t cost you a penny.

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Sometimes, they are standing in silence, looking straight at the camera. Who are the people in your images?

Well they are either strangers (#secretstreetportraits) or friends/acquaintances whom I ask to pose, because #tobilikesportraits.

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Do you think photography is creation? Why do we need to create?

Yes, photography is creation. As soon as you take a photo or start drawing, you start creating. That alone does not say anything about the quality of what you are doing though. But you are expressing yourself, and you are doing it just for the sake of creating. I believe we need to create because we ourselves are created in God’s image. The Jewish creation account, also received by the Christian community, depicts God creating the universe simply out of the abundance of who he is, using rhythm and poetry. That stands in stark contrast with other creation myths of that time, where the world was usually born out of some divine struggle between different competing deities.

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You look for symmetrical perspectives; especially in your photos from the subway, people always descending, ascending. What is so beautiful about symmetry?

It’s true, I like symmetry. I guess I am fascinated by creating symmetrical compositions especially in places where it might not be the first thing you notice, like a street scene. I both like the traditional ideas about aesthetics and beauty and the modern deconstructions of it. Actually it gets really exciting when you do your own personal remix of them both.

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Now tell me, what makes you happy? Is happiness easy?

Friendship, my wife and daughters, nature and the city, good conversations/discussions, art, photographing, good food and coffee. But real happiness is a matter of attitude and perspective. One of my all time favorite authors wrote: “Do not let your happiness depend on something you might lose.” (C. S. Lewis). That, I think, is a wise way to start thinking about happiness.

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