using the rare moments

ruhr valley after sunset at a cold evening

ruhr valley after sunset at a cold evening

I don´t know how you manage to get through the winter. My experience so far is that there is almost no frost, snow and almost no sunshine since the middle of November here in the Ruhr Area. There were two days in January with the temperature falling below zero. One of them I could use for a photo tour and came home with the photograph above. I am happy with having been able to use this rare moment when the sun was below the horizon and temperature was below zero too.


slinky-springs-to-fame-bridge ©

Inspired by the toy »Slinky« the German artist Tobias Rehberger, a border crosser between design, art and architecture, designed a pedestrian bridge in the form of a spiral with 496 arches made of Aluminium and illuminated in the night. Its official name is »Slinky Springs to Fame« but in colloquial speech it is named »Rehberger-Brücke« due to its inventor. The bridge spans the Rhine-Herne Canal in Oberhausen, Germany, connecting two public gardens, the Kaisergarten from the late 19th century and the Volksgarten from the early 20th century and is a replacement for a bridge that got destroyed in World War II. This place is not far from the Gasometer, a landmark for the whole Ruhr-Area.

slinky-springs-to-fame-bridge-at-blue-hour ©

The construction of the bridge is held by two ribbons made of high strength steel, the lightest of all possible constructions, and was developed by Schlaich, Bergermann & Partner. The elegant, light and vibrant bridge is part of the Emscherkunst – An Island for the Arts-Project and was build by the Emschergenosenschaft with subsidization by the European Union and the state North Rhine-Westphalia. It is a sculpture and an emblem in the geographic center of Oberhausen, a town compound of three little towns since 1929.

strange profane rites in a german marketplace

The weekend from May, 14th to 15th 2011 was blocked in many calendars months before, so in mine. Since the fall 2010 the Dortmund football club BVB 09 was the top team of the German premier league (Fussball-Bundesliga) and was never topped since then. 320,000 wanted to attend the last match, the stadium only has a capacity of a little more than 80,000. Some 12,000 could attend a public viewing in the Westfalenhalle nearby the Stadium.

Before the match began thousands came back from trying to get a spot in the public viewing – no chance at all. They crowded the streets in our urban quarter and entered the bars and restaurants as far as they could. There were a lot of fans without a chance to attend. Warmhearted citizens took out their video-beamer onto the street to let the traveled fans have a look at the last match and the ceremony of the handover of the championship shield.

After the match and the ceremony were finished the fans absorbed the regiment of the town: The City is our! They turned four lanes wide streets to an pedestrian area and continued their party that has started even before getting in the stadium and with pulling out the turf as a climax. A whole town in football fever.

In the evening the fans had a boisterous but peaceful party like two weeks before. Have a lock at the feautured image on top of the post. I took a little bit smaler risks this time while attending the party of these hoarser fellows and hard-core fans because I did not want some more beer showers and did not want to step through broken bottels. There were a lot of fans that displayed emergency signals / bengal fireworks within the masses but they did not want ot hurt somebody and they didn´t hurt anyone. These fans celebrated connectedness in a way that is not mine but I was left in peace by these fans not beeing dressed like them and not singing their songs but constantly smiling and showing them my respect.

Thousands were raving and chanting and I could hardly get through the crowd. So I created photographs with my strung-out arm assisted by the other one firing roughly into the direction I wanted to cover the scene.

BVB Fans celebrate boisterous party

BVB fans had a boisterous party

BVB fans had a boisterous party @ Jens Stachowitz

The football* club BVB 09 in my hometown Dortmund gained the title in German premier league 2011 (*Americans say: soccer). There still are two matchdays left but the persecutors have no chance at all to outrun BVB. Fans celebrated a spontaneous party all over the city. The party at the ancient market was very boisterous and peaceful the same time. I took several beer showers and risked my gear being damaged but the photographs I could archive were worth the adventure. Hope you will enjoy the sights and feel a little bit of the enormous excitement.

bridges of understanding

Men are pausing on the pendant bridge "Gimberger Sichel" (Grimberg Sikle)

Pausing at Grimberg Sikle @ Jens Stachowitz

“The cities in the Ruhr Metropolis are working together” is the key issue of the polis magazine edition 1 / 2011 with the title “The Awakening Hercules”. Michael von der Mühlen, city manager of Gelsenkirchen, has written an article about the culture of collaboration between the major of the 53 cities within the Ruhr Area. He used my photograph from the “Grimberger Sichel” (Grimberg Sickle) to express the main idea of his article: Since more then 20 years city planners and politicians are working on building interurban bridges of understanding and are trying to work together to build up the the Ruhr Metropolis. Nowadays those efforts come to fruition.

tearsheet from polis magazine 01 / 2011

The brigde is located near the Grimberg Harbor in Gelsenkirchen. It was designed by the engineering office Schlaich Bergermann and Partner from Stuttgart and was built by the Regional Association Ruhr (RVR). It was awarded the “European Steel Bridges Award 2010”. The bridge connects the recreation areas north and south of the Rhine-Herne Canal and connects the cycle path along the acient ore-railway-line with the cycle path within the Emscher Park. I awaited this moment with the men pausing on the bridge in the evening sun for about 2 hours. They did notice me photographing but did not bother about me. So I could capture a moment of friendlyness, informality and understanding with no posing towards me.

Get relaxed in the Valle Vercasca

Flowing waters in the Vercasca Valley | vercasca = green | @ Jens Stachowitz

On may way down to Ligury to fellow the Italy-Within-The-Frame-Workshop in April 2010 teached by David duChemin and Jeffrey Chapman I intermitted my journey towards Ligury and backwards home to stay a day and a night in the Valle Vercasca (Green Valley) in the Canton of Ticino in the Swiss Alps. I wanted to slow down and wanted to revisit this wild and emeraldgreen river I had seen lots of years before. This time I wanted to create photographs that show my love to this part of nature and I wanted to show the juxtaposition of flowing water and the resting stone and their harmony they build together.

The best photographs I used to create an electronic greeting-card that I send to my family, friends, colleagues, fellowers and customers in January 2011. If you like you can watch the flash-slideshow here (German version). If you do like to catch the meaning of the lyric that my wife has created you could have look at the html-version with english subtitles in the caption-field below the photographs.

the beauteous holdup of the world

On sunday, 18. July 2010, the ruhr area celebrated a gigantic street festival of everyday culture called »ruhr still life« as a part of the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010. I took part, was totaly captured by this event and recorded 12 GB of data for 801 photographs that will be part of my »One-Mile-From-Home-Project« and that will take a while to edit to be a consumalbe slideshow.

100000 cars are moving on this motorway every working day. (Jens Stachowitz)
100000 cars are moving on this motorway every working day.

Here some facts and emotions:
60 kilometres of the busiest motorway in Germany were blocked. Only pedestrians and ciclists were allowed from Dortmund to Duisburg – never ever this has been before
3 Million people attended – a gigantic mass and a very impressive moment in the life of everybody I could speek to
• the motorway sometimes was not able to contain the masses – the newspaper titeled »the beauteous holdup of the world«
• 20000 tables were put together to the longest table of the world – a symbol for the idea of belonging together in the ruhr area that consists of 52 cities
• 12000 voluntiers that made the festivity happen – I say: Thank you so much!
• beautifull summer weather and nearly nothing unplesent happend – a day of delight!

See some impressions from my hometown taken by press photographers.

Portraits are build on a faithfull relationship

At my last self assignment – 20-years-Post-&-Welters – I trained to better create environmental portraits on the boat the aniversary was celebrated on. When the journey started I was introduced by the host of the party as a friend and a photographer. He told his guest that the photographs will be shown on his and on my website. He invited his guests to give a sign when they don´t want to be photographed. Here I will show Portraits of which I am pleased and proud of.

There were a lot of people around and the most of them got used to me photographing them. With some of them I had a talk about themselves beeing photographed. Most of them I spoke to told me that they do not feel comfortable being photographed. I tried to build up a good relationship to them. That were my strategies and messages:
• I don´t like to be photographed too but I am luky to see good pictures I am in.
• I know that there has to be a balance between having a party whithout disturbance and the goal of the host and his guests to have some good photographs to hold their memories.
• There will not be shown any photographs in the gallerey in which they look bad.
• After creating a photograph they can look at the display of my camera and decide whether to delete it.
• They should talk to others and enjoy the party. I will wait for the decive moment when they smile or laugh. I will not press the shutter release when they are eating and drinking.
• They should not pose. It would be the best not to consider me.
• I accuse for using the flashlight because of the very low light within the boat and harsh light outside.

So they could see that I am aware of their situation and could share some values with them. After this conversation most of them agreed in being photographed. They got into a comfort zone because they haven´t had a sence of risc any more. Most of them cooperated, gave us – me and them – a try. There where only some guest I didn´t get a good photograph from. Mostly there was at last a photograph that could be accepted.

Very happy I am with this photograph because the woman told me that there is no chance to get a good portrait of her. I know her for years and could not agree. The problem is not her appearance but her feeling that a photo whith her in will fail. I hope this photograph will tell her another story. (Jens Stachowitz)

One of the guests told me – supposable some more felt this without articulating it – that the mimic (facial expression) of me hidden behind my heavy dslr-camera with a 70-200mm-lens and a flash mounted on is intimidating. I could agree to this and told him that I own a smaller camera and would have used it when the picture quality would be as good as those from my dslr. He could agree in this argument and got used to me, my camera and me photographing him. Finaly he could give me a little smile when facing my camera.
 (Jens Stachowitz)

There are some more photographs I am proud of and that needed no effords to develop the acceptance of the subject.
 (Jens Stachowitz)
 (Jens Stachowitz)
 (Jens Stachowitz)
 (Jens Stachowitz)
 (Jens Stachowitz)

It is not about to set yourselve a monument

Santa Monika pausing her travel from and back to Dortmund nearby the Henrichenburg boat lift. (Jens Stachowitz)

Last friday (2010-07-09) two friends of mine had a festivity on the “Santa Monika” to celebrate 2o years of working together in their own architect´s and urban planner´s office »Post & Welters« in Dortmund, Germany. Both I know since we first worked together in the 80th, the time we did our years as journeymen learning from the masters and wandering around to build up our experience in the profession. Hartmut Welters I met in the office of the architect and urban planner Franz Pesch (today professor in Stuttgart, Germany) and Norbert Post I met in te office of the architect and urban planner Peter Zlonicky (Munich, Germany; today professor emeritus and still working intensely as an consultant).

There would be a lot to tell about those four masters in the field of architecture and town planning and about which pathes they choose within their journeys and about how their profession shifted to the current appereance too. Here I only will mention their approach to their tasks that is the same as mine as a facilitator and that is part of the base of our professional and personal friendship: Satisfy the desires of your customers and realize social values at the same time! – It is not about to set yourselve a monument.

Tilman Harlander (professor in Stuttgart, Germany) said in his keynote during the festivity: “There are architects that are proud of their work and love it most when it is photographed in the moment it is freshly build up or – even better – when it is shown as an architecture model. But in the moment the users appropriate the building those architects feel disappointed because of the changes the users cause due to their everyday usage.” Henry Beierlorzer (freelance urban planner, Witten, Germay) pointed out something like following during his laudatory speech: “For Hartmut and Norbert it is a gratification making plans with their customers, make them beeing a part of the planning-team and use their knowledge and insights to produce a building or a city quarter that fits to their customers needs.” In the same time they try to connect the building or the city quarter to their surroundings and try to meet the environmental requirements in the best manner they can do.