Photographing Anna Bertheau or: “Der natürliche Blick”

The first two weekends of February I attended a workshop at PhotoWerkBerlin practicing, and discussing about, photography. We spent one whole Sunday with Anna Bertheau, a German TV and movie actress.

Steinkamp__AnnaBertheau_20140202 (1 of 2)We = Fabian Zapatka and Katharina Behling as workshop instructors; Christian Carlsen, Christina Ruckert, Norbert Wiesneth and myself as participants. We were having intensive, creative and inspiring three days at Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien, a former hospital in a part of Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood adjacent to the Western side of what used to be the Berlin wall until about 25 years ago. Nowadays, Bethanien is a lively art centre with production facilities, rehearsal rooms, workshop locations and a lovely restaurant.

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Fabian and Katharina headlined their workshop in German: “Der natürliche Blick”, the closest English equivalent of which would be “The natural eye”. Basically, the natural eye in portraiture doesn’t limit itself to a mere registration of faces. Rather, by including environment and specific atmosphere, the image becomes a testimony of an encounter between two individuals: the photographer and the person having her picture taken.

The approach resonates with the Kantian insight that every attempt to getting a direct grasp of the ‘thing in itself’ will end up having your object of knowledge affected by your (the subject’s) perceptions. The experience may render photography a much more interpretive and subjective medium, way less objective and intrusive than we normally tend to think. Provided, that is, we transcend the whole ‘thing-in-itself’ paradigm and consider every portrait session a real encounter with ‘the other’.

As I didn’t want to disturb the others’ photographic encounters by registering them with my camera, the following pictures show some interactions among us during the workshop.

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And of course: your’s truly behind the camera 😉