Early 2013: Struggling to fit in
I realized early on in the project that I liked shooting silhouettes on the street. This is what my first street photo looked like:
I googled whether there was a genre for that. With Google's help, I figured out that it was called street photography. However, my research made me feel tremendously insecure all of a sudden.
Apparently, I broke every "golden rule" in the book: I didn't show any emotions, faces, gestures, unique characters, stories, humor or anything. To make it worse, I loved colors so much that black and white street photography barely worked for me. When I read that street photos shouldn't be processed much either, I almost quit again.
Does it matter what others shoot and preach? No, but boy can it make you insecure. I tried over and over again to fit in and do street photography the "right way". This is what it looked like:
As much as I tried, I never really felt those shots. They felt more like a remix of someone else than my original. All this left me so insecure about my street photography style that I didn't look up, mix or connect with any other street photographers.
I struggled so much with my "street identity crisis" that I became rather introverted at the time.
As soon as I came out of the office, I spent all night on the streets. One ice-cold winter night in February changed it all. That night Düsseldorf was struck by a rather severe snow storm. I remember how my eyes were so drawn to the powerful snow fall. My guts told me that something golden was about to happen. I followed my heart and waited in the biting cold for 1.5 hours.
All of a sudden, my inner child started screaming: "MAAARIUS, gold, gold, gold, goooooo!" All the colors in my soul exploded and I hit the shutter with my cold, dead hands:
That was the night, when I unleashed my eye, heart and soul for the first time!
"Urban Lights" was the first street photo that convinced me that I am a street photographer - whether my style is odd or not.
The following months I focused on two things: improving my "human element in an urban world" signature and proving to myself that I'm not a one-hit-wonder!
It took me 9 months of daily shooting to prove to myself, that I could reach that level again. However, I just couldn't repeat what I did. That's why I wanted to interpret the genre as surreal as I could.
Countless days I looked for real, but surreal moments - till one night I bursted with joy. Apparently, the steam machine of an artist's installation had a malfunction and filled the whole hallway with steam.
I couldn't believe it, I felt myself in my street photos again: "Oh my god, that's the stranger in me!"
And that stranger changed me forever...