photography

dealing with the ordinary

by Daniel Hofmann

Two days before Christmas I traveled to Berlin to meet some friends from India and show them around. Also I hated it that my precious Fuji was collecting dust in my bag. If you know a city well, it gets harder and harder to see the special things. I would love to feel inspired like I felt in India. This is probably one of the most important lessons I learned as a photographer: it is easy to take good pictures in a special place. The unknown feeds my muse in so many ways, which made it hard for me to come home to Germany. I was afraid I would lose my creativity when I was confronted with my ordinary surroundings. In some ways this fear came true, because I felt no need to photograph for a long time. I tried, but nothing I captured really inspired me like India did.

I'm still in a process of finding a new voice here in Germany. It is without a doubt a different voice and maybe even a little bit darker. One reason is that it is not so easy to connect with people here. Most of the time I want to talk to the people I take photos of. It gives me an idea on how I want to photograph them. Germans are less welcoming when you start talking to them on the street – there are exceptions of course, but it’s definitely harder than in other countries I've been. I'm still trying to connect with them, but a lower success rate forces me to try new things to tell the stories I want to tell.

A few of these attempts I will share with you here. They are from my two days in Berlin with Lopamudra and Sabyasachi. Both of them are amazing photographers and when I saw how many pictures they took in Berlin – probably thrice as much as I did – they showed me that there is something special here; I just have to start looking again.

Kolkata

by Daniel Hofmann

My last week in India I spent in Calcutta (or Kolkata; I can never decide how to call it). I had a great time there because of so many reasons. I chatted with amazing people, wandered through exciting streets and drank a lot of fresh orange juice. I miss the fresh and cheap orange juice so much!

Calcutta is a city with a soul. The first time I saw all the old cabs lined up in front of the airport, I knew I was gonna love it there. I never payed so much for a room during my whole time in India 'expensive' is relative in India anyway but it was worth the extra money. Getting up in the early morning to wander through the market areas, seeing the sun rise while the merchants set up their shop or prepare food never lost its magic to me.

I had the pleasure to meet Soumya Shankar Ghosal during my stay. He's an amazing person and equally great photographer, who was kind enough to show me around his town. Because of him, I got to take pictures in one of the biggest fruit markets of India; walked through a street where they only sold school books; and ate chinese delicacies that were only sold in one specific street, at one particular day of the week, at a particular time in the early morning. Thanks to Soumya, I saw and learned things I probably would have missed on my own.