Thomas at "Handbestand"

Thomas is the owner of a a cafe close to my apartment in Berlin called "Handbestand". Here he combines his love for antique books with very good coffee.

The other day I asked him if I could take a portrait of him and was very happy that he agreed.

See a short video of Handbestand here, check out their Facebook page here.

It is a great place for having coffee, checking out old books, political discussion and epic chess battles that I unfortunately lose 99% of the time. But there is hope on the horizon! Thomas is my new chess coach. Watch out Laura!

 

 

Michael Rosker

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My latest Project also involved web design. I was entrusted with designing my spiritual mentor Michael Rosker's website. It opens with the above photograph of Michael.

To me this is one of the best portraits I'v ever shot. I'm not sure if what I like the most about this image is the intensity in his eyes, his smile, his overall good looks or all of the above! 😃

http://www.michaelrosker.org

On the site you can find out more about Michael's work. There is a video section where he is answering different questions. New videos will be uploaded on a weekly basis. 

Whatever you question or problem is, talking to him will help you overcome obstacles and help you grow. 

Michael is available for sessions by phone or on Skype. I can only highly recommend working with him! Here and here you can find out more about my experiences with him.

Please also like his Facebook page for future updates.

Frederic

Frederic 04/21/2015

Frederic 04/21/2015

A few weeks I started a new portrait project. I put up an ad on Craigslist and just waited to see what would happen. Fred was one of the first people who contacted me. He is from France and has been living in Berlin for a year or so. He is a very nice guy. We spend the afternoon and talked more then we were taking pictures and parted as friends.

Freedom

Baltic Sea #3

Baltic Sea #3

Last weekend I went on a sailing trip to the Baltic Sea for three days. Many thanks to Julia and Jan to make this trip possible!

We sailed from Kühlungsborn to the Island Poel, from Poel to Fehmarn Island and back to Kühlungsborn.

It has been more then 20 Jears since I spent six months on a tall ship but being out at sea the feelings of freedom and peace were back after an hour of leaving shore.

To look at the horizon and see nothing but water and sky puts many things in perspective and always helps me to take life less seriously.

Cross The Gate

I did this video originally for a submission to the "Life Ball", the biggest European charity event for the fight against Aids. Theme was to promote an open society in a 30 second video. I asked my friend Sergej to make a catchy tune and shot about 800 single frames that I merged into a timelapse video. Then came the hardest part, I had to rap!?

I had about a day to manage it all. When I submitted the video at Talenthouse I made a mistake and it never made it into the contest. That was a shame because it was definitely one of the better ones.

Anyway, here it is. My 12 minuet walk through the Bandenburg Gate. :-)

Seventy Years Ago

Lothar Scholz spent 9 years in a prison camp in Siberia

Lothar Scholz spent 9 years in a prison camp in Siberia

Today, seventy years ago, on the 8th of May 1945 WW2 ended in Europe while it continued in Asia and the Pacific until 2nd of September of 1945.  It lasted 6 years and 1 day in total, was the most widespread war in history, involved more then 100 million people from over 30 countries and resulted in estimated 50 to 85 million fatalities.

Five years ago I worked on a multimedia project I ended up calling “SHADOW OF WAR” when I realized how much this war still overshadows even my life. 

My grandfather, who I was very close to, had been a member of the Weapon SS. My father, grew up in Frankfurt during the war, while the city was heavily bombed by Allied Forces. 

At the beginning of 2010 I set out to talk to people who had lived through the war and were willing to share their stories with me. “SHADOW OF WAR” multimedia show was exhibited in New York from November 23rd, 2010 to January 20th, 2011 and contains some heart-wrenching stories, told by the people who had experienced them.

Please check out the project website: http://theshadowofwar.com

I will never forget and be forever thankful to those old men and women, who opened their homes and hearts to me, while I was working on the project. Many of them have died since then but my hope is that their stories will live on and give their suffering some sort of meaning by reminding us to never ever let something like that war happen again!

To spread the word I need your help though. Please share the site with your colleagues, family and friends. 

War, huh yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, oh hoh, oh
War huh yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it again y'all
War, huh good God
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me

                                                                                          -Edwin Starr

Lichtgrenze

Who didn’t experience it can’t imagine what it meant to have Germany’s biggest city and former capital separated by a 66 mile long, 12 ft high wall for 28 years. 

The Wall essentially made West Berlin an island, tore families and friends apart, cut off streets and subway lines and imprisoned people who lived in the East. 

The Wall was erected to prevent a “brain drain” in the East. Young, well educated people tended to emigrate to West Germany in the 1950’s, while the boarders were still open, because of the better living conditions in the West.

The reinforcement was fierce. A parallel fence was built some 110 yd further into East Germany what established what was later known as the death strip. It was raked with sand or gravel to render footprints easy to notice. Trespasser were easy detected, there was no cover and it offered a clear field of fire for the wall guards.

Further enforcements were mesh fencing, signal fencing, anti vehicle trenches, barbed wire, dogs, trip wires with a self shot system and mines.

My father used to own a travel agency in Berlin. I did visit Berlin quite frequently in the 80’s and we used to stay at a friends apartment were you had a direct view of the death strip. Even though being still a teenager back then I remember that I marveled about the darkness of it all. The dogs, the guards, the insanity of the whole thing.

But the wall wasn’t able to suppress peoples natural strive for freedom. Around 5000 defected successfully during the years of the wall. Estimated 100-200 people died while attempting to cross the boarder.

Then came the year 1989 and something happened that even though I was still young I did not expect witnessing during my lifetime. The Wall fell and was no more. One question remained though. All that pain, all that suffering, what for?

Hard to Believe that 25 years have passed. Today, living in Berlin, you have no idea were the Wall was once standing. 

This is why the “Lichtgrenze” (light-border) event this weekend was such an amazing idea. On a 9.5 miles path about 8000 lit balloons on stands stood were the wall was once before, again dividing the city but this time only by light. 

Yesterday, the day the wall fell 25 years ago these balloons were symbolically released while thousands were watching. It was a beautiful way to deal with a very dark past.

 

Timeless by Alicia Olatuja

I've known my friend Alicia for a couple of years by now. I met her working with her equally talented husband Michael Olatuja. Alicia had a big break in 2013 when she sang at Obama's inauguration and consequently was all over the news and was mentioned on The View. 

Listening to her performance gave me goosebumps. She has one of the best voices I've ever heard and apparently President Obama, Vice President Biden and Bill Clinton were impressed as well, since you see them all turn their heads when she starts singing.

I was honored when Alicia asked me to take the pictures for her new album "Timeless". This also  ended up being the last shoot I did before I left New York City.

Please pre-order her album on iTunes and get her amazing cover version of "Human Nature" as instand gratification track. You can find her homepage here.

Go ahead Alicia, get the success you deserve and sing to the world! 

Nothing to gain and nothing to lose!

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As tough as it was to leave the Big Apple behind, as much it also has freed me. I wrote in past blog post (you can go to the archive here) a lot about the ego. I spoke about how it is created and sustained  but also about how to let parts of the illusionary self go.

When I left the city I realised how much my self identity and New York City were tightly fused together. If, even only two years ago, somebody would have asked me if I would ever consider leaving the city, my answer would have been “never”.

Why would I leave? I had lived there for almost half my life and where should I go in the first place? Where do you go after living in New York City? To my ego self any other city would have been a huge step down.

Then things stared to shift, the main influence being the death of my father. Shortly after that I found myself back in Germany with two suitcases, just as I had left 17 years earlier. I was uprooted the second time in my life.

Who am I without the New York photographer story? Is a life without a story even worth living? How to get used to a different lifestyle and the much slower pace of life? Where is the excitement, the rush, the adventure? What is really important in life?

Then suddenly I saw the power of the situation. I had left my old life with all those big dreams in New York. Nobody even knew me in Berlin. I had freed myself of any becoming or losing. Now I had nothing to gain and nothing to lose any more.

This reminded me on a story I had read in the best book about creativity I know called "Free Play". I highly recommend it! It doesn't only inspire you to being creative as an artist but also  to be creative in life. 

This Japanese folks tale is from the books prologue. It moved me deeply when I read it:

A new flute was invented in China. A Japanese master musician discovered the subtle beauties of its tone and brought it back home, where he gave concerts all around the country. One evening he played with a community of musicians and music lovers who lived in a certain town. At the end of the concert, his name was called. He took out the new flute and played one piece. When he was finished, there was silence in the room for a long moment. Then the voice of the oldest man was heard from the back of the room: “Like a god!”

The next day, as this master was packing to leave, the musicians approached him and asked how long it would take a skilled player to learn the new flute. “Years,” he said. They asked if he would take a pupil, and agreed. After he left, they decided among themselves to send a young man, a brilliantly talented flautist, sensitive to beauty, diligent and trustworthy. They gave him money for his living expenses and for the master’s tuition, and sent him on his way to the capital, where the master lived.

The student arrived and was accepted by his teacher, who assigned him a single, simple tune. At first he received systematic instruction, but he easily mastered all the technical problems. Now he arrived for his daily lesson, sat down, and played his tune – and all the master could say was, “Something lacking.” The student exerted himself in every possible way; he practiced for endless hours; yet day after day, week after week, all the master said was, ” Something lacking.” He begged the master to change the tune, but the master said no. The daily playing, the daily “something lacking” continued for months on end. The student’s hope of success and fear of failure became ever magnified, and swung from agitation to despondency.

Finally the frustration became too much for him. One night he packed his bag and slinked out. He continued to live in the capital city for some time longer, until his money ran dry. He began drinking. Finally, impoverished, he drifted back to his own part of the country. Ashamed to show his face to former colleagues, he found a hut far out in the countryside. He still possessed his flutes, still played but found no new inspiration in music. Passing farmers heard him play and sent their children to him for beginner’s lessons. He lived this way for years.

One morning there was a knock at his door. It was the oldest past-master from his town, along with the youngest student. They told him that tonight they were going to have a concert, and they had all decided it would not take place without him. With some effort they overcame his feelings of fear and shame, and almost in a trance he picked up a flute and went with them. The concert began. As he waited behind the stage, no one intruded on his inner silence. Finally, at the end of the concert, his name was called. He stepped out onto the stage in his rags. He looked down at his hands, and realized that he had chosen the new flute.

Now he realized that he had nothing to gain and nothing to lose. He sat down and played the same tune he had played so many times for his teacher in the past. When he finished, there was silence for a long moment. Then the voice of the oldest man was heard, speaking softly from the back of the room: “Like a god!”

Magic is possible, but you have to be willing to let go. Nobody has come to one of my shoots or to one of my yoga classes and softly said “like a god!” But letting go of the pressure to achieve  and  the fear to lose something has made my life considerably lighter and more fun.

 

99% Practice and 1% Theory!

Another change was that I finally started to teach yoga. This is a promo video of me practicing the 1st Series of Ashtanga Yoga. Many thanks to the Crawford Sisters!

As with photography you can talk about yoga as much as you want but what counts is shooting or stepping on the mat. But if you do so continuesly for many years, you wake up one day and you can do things you thought you would never be able to do!

New blog, new website, new city, new continent, new life!

    I did what I thought I would never do. In June 2013 I left New York, the city that had been my home for 17 years and moved back to Germany. Leaving new York is tough. It must be like giving up a drug. You deal with the stress and the often low quality of life living there because you feel you are at the center of the universe, you are at the place where it is all happening, in the place of unlimited opportunity. And the best part of it is that wherever you go in the world, you can always say you are a "New Yorker" and will always find people being very impressed by that. But after all these years it was time to go and to continue my adventures in Berlin. 

 

 

I did what I thought I would never do. In June 2013 I left New York, the city that had been my home for 17 years and moved back to Germany. Leaving new York is tough. It must be like giving up a drug. You deal with the stress and the often low quality of life living there because you feel you are at the center of the universe, you are at the place where it is all happening, in the place of unlimited opportunity. And the best part of it is that wherever you go in the world, you can always say you are a "New Yorker" and will always find people being very impressed by that. But after all these years it was time to go and to continue my adventures in Berlin.