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About Martin U Waltz
Martin is a photographer, writer and educator in Berlin, Germany.
He has written and co-authored several books on street photography. He is a passionate photography teacher and offers photography coaching and photography workshops in Berlin. Martins work has been shown at exhibitions in New York, London, Paris, Dublin, Rome, Budapest, Bucharest and Berlin and has won numerous international awards. He is a member of the editorial board of the German Street Photography Site.
Making Of Interview
How would you describe your photography work in reference to what is commonly defined as street photography?
I see my street photography as existentialist poetry. The human condition, the drama of day to day life matters to me. My photography is a reflection on human life. To me human life is a serious subject, that is why my photography is hardly ever witty, funny or humorous. In modern street photography the exquisiteness of composition seems to matter a lot. Masterly crafted shots where the form trumps the content. I can appreciate the craft and skills behind these compositions, yet the resulting photography usually does very little for me. Even the most eccentric and complex compositions become repetitive as amply demonstrated by streetrepeat.org. I’m much more with Henri Cartier-Bresson where form and substance align to the one decisive moment.
Where and when did you make the photo, was it a new or familiar location to you?
The photograph was taken in Berlin 2018 in a huge location called Kraftwerk, a former power plant in the center of the city. Today it is a place for all sorts of events and I have been there many times.
What was happening, why did you photograph the scene?
There was a sound – light performance going on with a few hundred visitors. What intrigued me was the guy sitting there in a contemplative mood while the light beam was touching his hand.
Was it one spontaneous capture?
Actually I missed the shot when I saw the light beam wandering across the guy’s hand. I knew that was an image the moment I saw it. But I was too slow to get a shot. So I waited well prepared and camera pre-focussed to see if the light beam would hit the hand one more time. And it did. That’s how I got my shot.
In case you made more that one exposure, could you please share some images and describe what you did to get it “right”?
This was the only shot I got from this scene.
Did the photo came out as imagined or did something unexpected added to it?
Basically I got the shot I was looking for. When seeing the image at home on a large screen I was surprised who much the image resembled an religious scene in a Renaissance painting
What camera, lens, flash and exposure settings did you choose?
Fuji X100F with a fixed 23mm (35mm full format equivalent), f2.0, 1/15sec, ISO 6400. It was pretty dark and I was operating the camera at its limits.
I shoot in RAW, so all my shots are post-processed. Here I did
- A slight crop
- Some local dodging and burning to reduce the contrasts
- A rather warm light balance in reference to the chiaroscuro lighting and color tones of the Renaissance paintings
Why did you choose to discuss this particular photo (is there anything you took away/learned from making this picture?)
Obviously I like this image and I feel it is typical for my style. The take away lesson for me – There are second chances in street photography. If you missed the first time, things might repeat and you’ll get a second chance to nail a shot.
If you could ask any photographer to tell his/her particular making of story, which picture would that be and why?
I’m not so much interested in how this or that shot was made. I don’t think that there is a recipe to great photography. It is basically a lot of work and rigorous editing / self-critique. I’m more curious about the way another photographer is working about their way of seeing and framing things. That is one of the reasons why I like to talk and photowalk with fellow photographers.
Thank you for your time and the interview Martin!