Tag Archives: press photography

Uma Thurman graced the red carpet with presence at the opening of the controversial film Nymphomaniac. This shot caught the flash of another photographer directly behind her head, giving a perfect halo.

Berlinale 2014: Hollywood Invasion

I spent the better part of this month photographing Berlinale, one of the country’s biggest and most important film festivals.  The big winner this year was “Black Coal, Thin Ice”, hailing from China, claiming both best actor and best film. Though plenty of German stars are to be expected on the red carpet, the presence of Hollywood has become somewhat overwhelming. Photos from a festival like this fly around the wire within minutes, but the most interesting photos are rarely even picked up by an agency let alone sold to a magazine. This is a selection of some of my favorite shots of mine from two weeks in Potsdamer Platz. These are about light, about character, about something happening.

Edward Norton and BIll Murray were around for opening night, part of The Grand Budapest Hotel and the Monuments Men teams. They enjoyed the red carpet. Mr. Murray posed for us while Mr. Norton mocked us.

Edward Norton and BIll Murray were around for opening night, part of The Grand Budapest Hotel and the Monuments Men teams. They enjoyed the red carpet. Mr. Murray posed for us while Mr. Norton mocked us.

Fans sleeping in the mall in Potsdamer Platz to get tickets for the public, which go on sale early in the morning.

Fans sleeping in the mall in Potsdamer Platz to get tickets for the public, which go on sale early in the morning.

Uma Thurman graced the red carpet with presence at the opening of the controversial film Nymphomaniac. This shot caught the flash of another photographer directly behind her head, giving a perfect halo.

Uma Thurman graced the red carpet with presence at the opening of the controversial film Nymphomaniac. This shot caught the flash of another photographer directly behind her head, giving a perfect halo.

Bill Murray chats with a TV crew on the red carpet at the premiere of Monuments Men. Changing his hat every time and always having fun, Murray was certainly a media favorite this time around.

Bill Murray chats with a TV crew on the red carpet at the premiere of Monuments Men. Changing his hat every time and always having fun, Murray was certainly a media favorite this time around. A “Natural Light” shot.

Nothing but love at the photo call for In Order of Disappearance: Hans Petter Moland, Bruno Ganz, and Stellan Skarsgard. Sure. they are actors. But this one shows some emotion, hard to snag at a festival.

Nothing but love at the photo call for In Order of Disappearance: Hans Petter Moland, Bruno Ganz, and Stellan Skarsgard. Sure. they are actors. But this one shows some emotion, hard to snag at a festival.

Diane Kruger poses for a selfie with a fan after the press conference for The Better Angels. Overhead shot with a Fuji X100.

Diane Kruger poses for a selfie with a fan after the press conference for The Better Angels. Overhead shot with a Fuji X100. I love that she is holding a camera but using her cell phone for the selfie.

Edward Norton at the Photo Call for Grand Budapest Hotel. My flash did not fire but I caught someone else's hard light from the side. Intense.

Edward Norton at the Photo Call for Grand Budapest Hotel. My flash did not fire but I caught someone else’s hard light from the side. Intense.

Martin Scorsese showed up to a screening of an unfinished work of his at Berlinale. I wanted to take my Rolleiflex with me that morning but knew I wouldn't have the time to shoot with an extra camera. But I could crop this shot down to a square, my favorite for portraits.

Martin Scorsese showed up to a screening of an unfinished work of his at Berlinale. I wanted to take my Rolleiflex with me that morning but knew I wouldn’t have the time to shoot with an extra camera. But I could crop this shot down to a square, my favorite for portraits.

Shia Laboef at the premiere of Nymphomaniac from Lars von Trier. After keeping his head down in the photo call and leaving the press conference after a couple of minutes, he decided to brown bag the red carpet. Potentially the most exciting thing that happened during Berlinale.

Shia Laboef at the premiere of Nymphomaniac from Lars von Trier. After keeping his head down in the photo call and leaving the press conference after a couple of minutes, he decided to brown bag the red carpet. Potentially the most exciting thing that happened during Berlinale. He strikes me as a bit off.

 

Berlinale's director Dieter Kosslick takes a pause to read the news at the food carts, a gourmet addition to the scene - but still less pricey than the junk in Potsdamer Platz.

Berlinale’s director Dieter Kosslick takes a pause to read the news at the food carts, a gourmet addition to the scene – but still less pricey than the junk in Potsdamer Platz.

Lio Fan wins the best dressed award as well as best actor for his work in Black Coal Thin Ice, which also took home the Golden Bear for best film. Fan cracks a smile during the winner's press conference. His silver bear pokes into the frame at the left.

Lio Fan wins the best dressed award as well as best actor for his work in Black Coal Thin Ice, which also took home the Golden Bear for best film. Fan cracks a smile during the winner’s press conference. His silver bear pokes into the frame at the left.

The Monuments Men brought a wave of Hollywood to Berlin. This crew came in singing and conga-lined out of there. Bill Murray, John Goodman, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Matt Damon. Most fun photo call ever.

The Monuments Men brought a wave of Hollywood to Berlin. This crew came in singing and conga-lined out of there. Bill Murray, John Goodman, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Matt Damon. Most fun photo call ever.

Shia Laboef at the premiere of Nymphomaniac from Lars von Trier. After keeping his head down in the photo call and leaving the press conference after a couple of minutes, he decided to brown bag the red carpet. Potentially the most exciting thing that happened during Berlinale.

Shia Laboef at the premiere of Nymphomaniac from Lars von Trier. After keeping his head down in the photo call and leaving the press conference after a couple of minutes, he decided to brown bag the red carpet. Potentially the most exciting thing that happened during Berlinale. He strikes me as a bit off.

The table in the press conference room is wiped down  just before the winners come in.

The table in the press conference room is wiped down just before the winners come in.  

That’s it for the kind of interesting shots from the festival which won’t get picked up for publication. A group of young photographers took part in the project Close Up! and got to roam around Berlinale half playing the game of a press photographer and half taking a step back to observe and view the festival in its entirety as a subject. These projects are excellent, artistic, and a lot of fun. If you are in Berlin, swing by C/O’s new digs at the Amerika Haus to see more interesting, refreshing perspectives on Berlinale. 

The demonstration arrived on Oranienburgerstraße as the sun was setting. The New Synagogue can be seen in the background.

Remembering Kristallnacht: The 75th Anniversary of The November Pogrom

“It is anything but obvious that leaders of the Jewish community would want to address us today”, explained one Church leader, to the thousand-strong group who had gathered at Berlin’s City Hall to commemorate Kristallnacht, perpetrated 75 years ago this past Saturday. The mayor of Berlin, the Catholic Archbishop of Berlin and the Protestant Bishop of Berlin and surroundings led the group in a silent march, stopping at memorials along the way, to Oranienburgerstraße – a street which is again home to a Jewish community  – where the demonstration was addressed by two Rabbis, as soon as Shabbat ended. “It is sign of hope that shabbat is again being celebrated on Oranienburgerstraße”, he explained.

"Remeber. Commemorate. March." reads the banner held by the Mayor, Protestant Bishop and Catholic Archbishop of Berlin along with other leaders.

“Remeber. Commemorate. March.” reads the banner held by the Mayor, Protestant Bishop and Catholic Archbishop of Berlin along with other leaders.

The speeches given by the Mayor, Bishop and Archbishop are also not to be taken for granted. The Mayor discussed the complete lack of organized resistance by the Churches. He pointed out individual acts – for instance, the police commissioner who prevented S.S. men from burning the New Synagogue (pictured above) on Kristallnacht – and cited them as evidence that resistance would not have been futile, had there truly been any here in Germany. The church leaders, for their part, spoke shamefully of the lack of courage of their predecessors. The Protestant Bishop Markus Dröge called on the state to be open open to asylum seekers escaping contemporary persecution, a hot topic at the moment.

Germany is not in danger of forgetting. On the contrary, the process of remembrance is a living aspect German society today. Berlin chose “Diversity Destroyed” (Zerstörte Vielfalt) as the theme for 2013, putting faces and names to many people from the city who fled or were murdered during Nazi rule. The activities surrounding the theme culminated with this weekend’s events.

The Neue Synagoge Berlin (New Synagogue) on Oranienburgerstraße, which was protected from the S.S. by a police chief on Kristallnacht.

The Neue Synagoge Berlin (New Synagogue) on Oranienburgerstraße, which was protected from the S.S. by a police chief on Kristallnacht.

On Friday, the President of Germany visited the workshop of Otto Weidt, a man who saved many Jews’ lives. But unlike in most of Europe, the Legend of the Resistance is far from the dominant discussion in Germany. Here, it is still very much one of guilt and accepting responsibility. Indeed, throughout Europe, one rarely hears tales of French, Italian or Polish culpability – nor of German resistance.

This weekend, the tone followed suit. Shops around the legendary Kurfürstendamm – an area where many shops were owned by Jewish families before the Holocaust – put decals up, showing their windows as if they were shattered. Kids were asked to make short films in responses to questions like “What would you do if the most important thing in your life was taken away” – which produced shorts ranging from a boy taking away his little sister’s iPhone to two teenagers of the same sex holding hands in the schoolyard, before getting bullied and separated. The films, amongst other things, were projected onto the Brandenburg Gate on Sunday night in a evening called “Diversity is Freedom” (Vielhalt ist Freiheit).

A nun who marched wearing her habit and a bag which reads "Vielfalt ist Freiheit" - Diversity is Freedom.

A nun who marched wearing her habit and a bag which reads “Vielfalt ist Freiheit” – Diversity is Freedom.

On Saturday, the main event was the Silent March through Berlin. It wound its way from Alexanderplatz past Museum Island and onto Unter Den Linden, where the first stop was at the Berliner Dom, an enormous protestant church in Mitte. A group of students from a protestant church group read aloud stories of lives destroyed on Kristallnacht, as they were doing all day.

The Mayor (center) and Bishops in front of the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) while students read aloud stories of lives destroyed on Kristallnacht.

The Mayor (center) and Bishops in front of the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) while students read aloud stories of lives destroyed on Kristallnacht.

The March continued, moving to the Book Burning Memorial in front of Humboldt University’s Law Department. An enormous book burning was held here on May 10, 1933, in which professors and students of the University brought books out of the library and burned them, accompanied by orchestras of the S.A. and S.S. An underground memorial houses empty bookshelves in commemoration.  As the demonstration arrived, a catholic choir stood on the steps of the department, singing Shalom Alecheim, traditionally sung as Shabbat begins.  Here is a dreadfully unprofessional video I shot of them, but it’s the audio that counts: Cathloic choir singing Shalom Alecheim at the Book Burning Memorial in Berlin

 

The Denkmal zur Erinnerung an die Bücherverbrennung (Book Burning Memorial) in Bebelplatz, Berlin, shown on May 10 2013, on the 80th anniversary of a major book burning at Humboldt University.

The Denkmal zur Erinnerung an die Bücherverbrennung (Book Burning Memorial) in Bebelplatz, Berlin, shown on May 10 2013, on the 80th anniversary of a major book burning at Humboldt University.

And on Oranienburgerstraße, we stopped in front of a parking lot. Not at the recognizeable “New Synagogue” from 1866, which was spared on Kristallnacht but ruined by allied bombings, then partially razed and rebuilt in East Berlin, but at the site of another synagogue which was burnt down on Kristallnacht. The demonstration arrived before shabbat ended, at which point the crowd –  by now, larger than when it had begun – respectfully waited for the two Rabbis who would be addressing the group to come. The group stood in the street, looking for the first stars, arguing, Talmudically, whether the first star that was spotted was indeed a star or was a planet.

The demonstration arrived on Oranienburgerstraße as the sun was setting. The New Synagogue can be seen in the background.

The demonstration arrived on Oranienburgerstraße as the sun was setting. The New Synagogue can be seen in the background.

The group was addressed by Andreas Nachama, a Rabbi and Professor who is involved in many walks of Berlin life, and by Gesa Ederberg, Rabbi at the Synagogue on Oranienburgerstraße. They traded off at the podium, Rabbi Nachama discussing the current day situation. He discussed the fact that all over the world, there are Jews, Christians and Muslims who are persecuted for their beliefs, and the desire of the Jewish Community to rebuild a reform synagogue on that empty parking lot, before which we stood.

Rabbi Andreas Nachama addresses the demonstrators on Oranienburgerstraße once Shabbat had ended.

Rabbi Andreas Nachama addressed the demonstrators on Oranienburgerstraße once Shabbat had ended.

Rabbi Ederberg discussing Kristallnacht, emphasizing not just the S.S. men who burned synagogues to the ground that night but the men in suits and ties who walked by, not wanting to see what was going on. And she told a tearful audience of the studying and laughter, humor and knowledge, which were lost along with the lives taken in the Holocaust. 

 

Towards Press: Film Premiere at Kino International

After a year living in Berlin, and two decades of dreams and struggles of photography, I’ve started freelancing for a press agency. This means a lot. It means excitement, access, speed. For years now I have practiced the art of press photography but generally to a different end. I have photographed protests as a demonstrator, from the anti-war demonstrations during the buildup to the Iraq War in 2003 in New York through protests against tearing up the East Side Gallery in Berlin in 2013. Now I’ll be doing it for the mainstream media.

My shooting style will be affected, too. I’ve often gone for available light, fast prime lenses. I’ve done this with black and white film that I could push or digital at high ISO. I need to be shooting with zooms now for speed in composition, where I loose a few critical stops. So I’m supposed to shoot flash, for more depth of field, for that “look”, and for those lenses.

I got access through patience. I waited until the press had gone off to send their pictures to their editors to approach the stars. Now I’ve got a press pass and I’m on the lists.

The thing is that I like my way of doing things. It isn’t just poor man’s press photography. It means talking to an important figure instead of just flashing them. It means spending hours at the event instead of minutes, to capture its spirit.

Moving forwards as a press photographer will mean growth, but not a loss of style. Learning from my colleagues, I’ll do what I can to meld the style I’ve built over a decade of press-like photography with a more classic look. It is going to be fun. A lot of my gigs are going to show up here. Below, a sneak preview.

Premiere of König von Deutschland at Kino International

Shooting the Premiere of König von Deutschland at Kino International is my first of hopefully many assignments with the agency. So here’s to my first attempt at the red carpet and chatting up German movie stars.

It begins with an actress on the guest list, Franziska Weisz. She tried to sneak by behind the red carpet, playing hard to get. Some colleagues at DPA called her over, and she was more than glad to pose. This is the kind of classic archive shot of a movie star that requires the right camera settings and being a bit annoying, but not so much in the way of, well, photographic skill.

I apologize in advance for the watermarks. The identical images are for sale across town, so to post images large enough to see I have to watermark them.

Franziska Weisz on the red carpet at the premiere of König Von Deutschland, Kino International

Franziska Weisz on the red carpet at the premiere of König Von Deutschland, Kino International

Things got more interesting as the night went on. The female lead, Katrin Bauerfeind, was tired of being flashed by the time the film had run, but was still happy to chat. Lucky me, I asked her if I could do a few shots with a flash, and she more than obliged. Available light, D800 on ISO 6400, Nikon’s 70-200 f/2.8 around 100mm and a smidgin of noise reduction. The result is almost a studio headshot. Happy photographer, happy film star.

Katrin Bauerfeind at the premiere of König Von Deutschland, Kino International

Katrin Bauerfeind at the premiere of König Von Deutschland, Kino International

Indeed, she was happy enough to grab together her co-leads in the film for the most natural of the group shots I managed that evening. Here I flashed a teency bit to kill some shadows and bring the machine down to ISO 3200. Questionable decision – the weird blue shadow on Katrin’s face is a result of the nearly impossible to control mixed lighting I had to deal with, with about 3 seconds of prep time.

Wanja Mues, Katrin Bauerfeind and Otto Dittrich at the premiere of König Von Deutschland, Kino International

Wanja Mues, Katrin Bauerfeind and Otto Dittrich at the premiere of König Von Deutschland, Kino International

The night ends back in front of Kino International with the film’s director, David Dietl. I managed a test shot at the right distance to balance the main light on David – this was a street at night, solidly three stops darker than the sign behind him. I’ve never been content with TTL flash, so I did the balancing manually. One overexposed test shot grabbed his attention, and then a well exposed shot of him, a bit looser as the night went on, pointing to the sign announcing his film’s premiere.

Director David Dietl pointing to Kino International

Director David Dietl pointing to Kino International

And that is where this first assignment ends. Stay tuned.