A Little Bit Of Biography
My earliest interest in photography must have been around 1985 when, at age 9, I got my first real camera, a Praktika MTL. It must have come with a nondescript 50mm lens, but I honestly can’t remember. I used it for a while and then got interested in something else as kids are bound to do. Later in school I got a chance to work in the darkroom and learn about darkroom techniques, which was tremendously interesting. It was also fun capturing my first photographs with even something remotely resembling an eye for subject matter and composition. That was around the year 1992.
I sustained a spinal cord injury in the summer of 1995 after I broke my 7th cervical vertebra in a swimming accident. I had just turned 19 two days prior. That meant that my lifestyle was gonna be mostly sedentary from then on. I know the word wheelchair normally scares the daylight out of people, but it really isn’t that bad, if you think about it. Indeed, much better than not moving around anymore at all.
I (re-)discovered my passion for photography in 2012 after some changes in my personal life. It was around the time when the first mirrorless system cameras were released and in the summer I purchased an Olympus OM-D E-M5 for myself. I owned a digital single-lens reflex camera (Canon EOS 350D) at the time, but it was collecting dust on a shelf, because I was just not comfortable using it. All of that changed for me with the Olympus. The fingers on my right hand are paralyzed and pressing the shutter button isn’t possible for me. So one of the features that made me get it was the ability to release the shutter by just tapping the display with my left thumb. Photography purists will be shuddering with disgust, but when you’re dealing with physical disabilities you’re more than happy for anything that’s making your life easier. As I got more and more used to handling different mirrorless cameras I developed new techniques and ways to hold and operate them and I don’t think I’d be put off by the things I used to see as limitations like the shutter button problem. I think it goes to show that solutions tend to present themselves as long as you keep at it, experiment and play.
People tell me that I have this unique POV due to the wheelchair, which I at first dismissed because, after all, it didn’t seem unusual to me at all as that’s how I’d been seeing the world for decades. I used to get excited whenever I was able to get shots that looked as if I was standing. However, I realize now that this is just a personal impression and my photography, if I even want a shot at bringing something fresh to the table, would profit immensely if I were to exploit that POV ruthlessly and really make it stand out.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m making the disability stuff an integral part of this blog/website. I’ve long pondered whether to do that or not. Originally, I wanted the photographs to speak for themselves and nothing more. However, I now think that if I can inspire just one wheelchair-bound or otherwise handicapped person to pick up a camera, the effort and exposure will have been well worth it. There’s so much photography out there, but I’ve only come across maybe three photographers over the years that are shooting from a wheelchair.
My other objective here is to supply readers with behind-the-scenes information around the street shots I take and publish. I’ve done it here and there on social media (Flickr mostly, where I’ve been active the longest). People have actually asked sometimes about the what, why and how regarding a particular shot or my approach to shooting on the street in general and I’ve always enjoyed responding to these questions.
I began shooting in the streets in 2013, long before I even knew there was “a thing” called street photography. It wasn’t until the following year, however, that I began taking the whole thing more seriously. I also started posting my shots on Flickr, which is where I first saw other people’s work and realized that it was pretty much what I’d been doing for a couple of months. I’ve been hooked ever since!
2019 Metzgerei Schnitzel eV Brause Düsseldorf
2019 Galerie Woewwesch, Uedelhoven