Greetings everyone! Welcome to TIA’s latest Feature Photographer interview with Jörn Braasch of Anek-Artwork, an extremely talented photographer based in Hamburg, Germany. Not only is Jörn a very skilled night-time, urban landscape photographer, he is a very creative media designer with a specialization in animation and time-lapse photography. I discovered Jörn’s work via Flickr about four years ago and have been a tremendous fan ever since. Over the years, we have kept in touch, either discussing our latest projects and travels, or exchanging a friendly “Hello!” just to find out how the other is doing. I have been so impressed by his motivation, confidence, and zeal for his artwork that I felt it was time to share his craft with all of you!
Before we delve into the interview, I would like to share that I also admire this photographer for his humility. Jörn is one of those individuals who never brags about his talents. Instead, he lets his images, videos, drawings, and animation speak for themselves. He has a very friendly, down-to-earth personality, and when we correspond, one cannot help but be inspired by his objective honesty and relate to his likes and dislikes in the field of photography, many of which so many of us share. Regardless, he’s never excessively pessimistic about what he loves to do in life. Clearly, he is only in competition with himself, challenging his own skills and knowledge of photography for his own personal and professional growth, and not to impress or satisfy someone else’s definition of how photography should be executed or practiced. Self-trained, self-made, and successful. I wish Jörn the very best of success with all his future endeavors.
Of course, similar to previous Feature Photographer interviewees such as José, Rebecca, Sam, and Clayton, I hope I will inevitably meet Jörn in person for a mutual photo shoot of Hamburg at night, or any city in which we both happen to find ourselves. Personally, I am proud of the fact that I have met all the Feature Photographer interviewees from last year: Steve, Vivi, Josh, and Toby, all of whom are my friends as well as colleagues in the field.
I hope Jörn won’t mind if I post one of my all-time favorite images from his collection. Please check it out below!
When I first saw the photo, I was deep in awe. I learned that Jörn’s girlfriend actually has accreditation for this photo’s execution. If you look carefully, you can see our photographer in the photo, thoughtfully looking over the incredibly scenic metropolis of Cape Town, South Africa. The image displays two things I have come to respect about Jörn:
1) He has a sophisticated and consistent style in his photography where he displays one person in unison with the urban landscape, often showcasing how all of us may be individuals, but we still contribute a significant and integral part to the development of the world populace around us; and
2) He and his girlfriend are a powerhouse team and very supportive of each other’s objectives. It’s unlikely Jörn could have achieved this brilliant image without her. (This is the ultimate dream-come-true for most photographers in relationships, I have discovered — either to be romantically partnered with another photographer, or one who completely supports the other’s passion and drive to achieve, and vice versa. It’s a very beautiful thing, but let me not digress and get to the interview)!
NAME: Jörn Braasch
CITY & COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE: Hamburg, Germany
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.anek-artwork.de
FLICKR WEBSITE: www.flickr.com/photos/joernbraasch/
TIA: Hey Jörn! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview! I am so excited to share your work with the photography community around the world, so let’s get right into it! What do you like to photograph the most? Any favorite subject matters?
Jörn: I like to photograph urbanity and contrasts. I like to go to high viewpoints. From there, most cities look very nice, especially at night. I really enjoy the feeling when you are looking from a calm place, high above, to the hustle and bustle of the city. Sometimes it gives me a “stand above it all” feeling. I also like the lost places and the ugly sites. Dirty corners, concrete, social housing, neon lights, graffiti, ruins. I like to document how people are living, how cities are growing, and how the world changes. And, of course, just creating nice pictures. I hope people can make their own thoughts when they look at my pictures. That’s the reason I never give them names or titles.
TIA: I noticed many of these traits when I came across your work on Flickr. I also did not know that is part of the reason why you leave your photos untitled. I like that you leave it to the viewer to determine what they’re seeing without the aid of a title to frame or shape any initial thoughts. Please tell me about the favorite places you have photographed over the years.
Jörn: Hong Kong and Tokyo! Hong Kong is just awesome. I was deeply impressed by the people and the atmosphere of the city. This city has so many faces. Maybe it sounds strange, but for me as a photographer with an external viewpoint and who likes to photograph contrasts, Hong Kong is like a big adventure-playground. I want to go there again soon. Tokyo was also very cool for making crazy, urban, megacity photos. During my time in Tokyo, I met a lot of very friendly and helpful people. I often think back of my experience there with a smile. Many greetings to them. I haven’t released my Tokyo Gallery yet, but I hope I will finish it soon. In the meantime, you can watch a video I created in Tokyo (below). It’s a collaboration with my good friends from Technoherz. I like their music a lot.
TIA: This is so cool! I just watched it for the first time and I love the music and the video coverage of Tokyo. I think you and your girlfriend make a cameo in there a few times, and I like how many of the people seem to enjoy being a part of the video. It looked like it was hard work to produce, but also a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to be in a music video. Maybe someday! Though I have never been to Tokyo, I hope that will become a reality soon. I completely agree with your sentiments about Hong Kong. For a long time, I thought New York City was the only place I could feel less aware of myself, but in Hong Kong, I also felt “at home” there. So many different types of people crossing paths. Many friendly people too. Hong Kong also feels like a place where so many people love photography. I was never the only one walking around with a camera or tripod at any time of the day or night. I love that city. It’s hard not to. Where would you like to photograph in the future? Any particular cities or countries?
Jörn: There are so many! My dream is to travel around the world for photography. Currently, I like the “Megacity” theme, so I want to travel to a lot of them, but there are also a lot of other themes I want to photograph in future. I hope the future will bring me a lot of different possibilities.
TIA: Completely understood! Please keep me posted about your upcoming destinations. Well, tell me about how you came to discover your love for urban landscape photography. How did that start?
Jörn: Since I can remember, I was amazed by these places which look like scenes from a science-fiction movie. Most of them didn’t look like utopia. More like dystopia. Today, I realized that it’s just reality. When I started with photography, I wanted to catch this.
TIA: Fascinating! What you said immediately reminds me of the way Gotham City has been portrayed in the “Batman” live action and animated movies over the past 25 years. Gotham is very much like a modern-day dystopia, day and night. This is a perfect segue into your interest in night photography. Many of your images are captured at night. Do you have a preference to night photography compared to daytime?
Jörn: Yes, I prefer night photography. I like the silence at night. I like all the lights. It always looks like a different world. My favorite results are made during the twilight hour. In Germany, we also call it “Blaue Stunde” which means “blue hour” and I like this color a lot.
TIA: Please tell me about your interest in time-lapse photography and videography! You have many engaging time-lapses. When did you start producing these?
Jörn: I started to create time-lapses in 2011. I really enjoy the moment when I can see the result. Making the time-lapse can be also very nice when you are at a nice location. It’s very good for relaxing. After setting my camera, I just sit back, maybe drink a beer, and enjoy the view. Otherwise, it can be very stressful standing with very expensive equipment at a “not so nice” location.
Enjoy one of Jörn’s time-lapse videos here!
If that video wasn’t amazing enough to view, check out one of our photographer’s favorite pictures that he meticulously created!
TIA: Ooooooooh! I remember when you first posted this on Flickr! This is brilliant, Jörn. This is easily a poster I would love to feature in my office. I may have to purchase a signed copy of this from you. (We’ll talk later). What is the story behind this magnificent graphic creation?
Jörn: Clearly, it’s not a photo coming straight out of the camera! This picture is the result of many photos I shot during many trips. It is the result of sitting for hours and hours at home, doing the composing. There are so many stories for every single photo in this composite, I can lose myself in thoughts every time I look at this. In this picture, I put my photos from Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hong Kong, and Hamburg together.
TIA: Impressive, my friend. Given your experience in photography, what have you found to be the most challenging or frustrating aspects of the art?
Jörn: It is frustrating when people don’t like or don’t want me to make photos at a certain place. A few times, there were people who also threatened me while making photos. This is sometimes a big challenge, getting the photos that I want, or reaching the right location for making good pictures. In other cases, I have met so many very cool and friendly people while taking photos, and this is what makes the frustrating aspect infinitesimally small.
TIA: You work as a freelance photographer via Anek Artwork. Do you have any advice to share with others who would like to freelance? What should they know in advance?
Jörn: Don’t talk with negative “I-know-it-all-people” about your plans!
TIA: Simply put and well said! Where does the name “Anek Artwork” come from? I was always curious about that.
Jörn: That’s both a long and short story. When I was 13, I started with drawing pictures and I was using “Anek” as a pseudonym. Then I started to photograph things, so I could draw them better at home. A few years later, I engaged in Photoshop. I got training as a Mediengestalter (Media Designer). Many greetings to my instructor and my colleagues from that time. I also taught myself to get better in photography. At the end of my training, I also had the pleasure to work in a photo studio in Berlin. Many greetings to Peter, Simon, and Chris! After my training, in October 2010, I decided to start my own business as Anek-Artwork. I make photo, video, art design, and post production. In 2013, I started a collaboration with my good friend, Lenni, in a nice office here in Hamburg.
TIA: Sounds like you’ve had quite an adventure with drawings, designs, photography, and animation! I like that you still give props to the people who helped you along the way. Before I forget, do you have any favorite photographers?
Jörn: There are a lot of photos I really like. I suggest having a look at my favorites from different Flickr photographers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joernbraasch/favorites/
Another photographer I really suggest to have a look at his pictures is Peter Bialobrzeski. I am a big fan of his work.
One of the most impressive photos I have ever seen was from Joao Silva:
Here, I saw that my darkest science fiction visions were already reality in some parts of this world. I have deep respect for people who risk their own lives to show reality to the world.
TIA: Who and what inspires your photography?
Jörn: Everyone and everything around me including myself.
TIA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that we have not covered?
Jörn: Much love to my girlfriend Marlena who has so much patience and sympathy for my picture madness and who accompanies me on so many photo trips. Also, greetings to everybody out there. The world, and also humans, can be so nice and beautiful. Please take care of each other! 🙂