It all started with that magic B/W masterpiece by Henri Cartier-Bresson, a photograph which I saw as a photographic beginner in a book in the early 1980s and which accompanied me through my whole life, giving this initial spark to my interest for showing people in the public realm. The black-and-white picture of a small boy, carrying home two huge wine bottles with an expression of pride and joy on his face. When I saw this picture, it struck me like lightning: How on earth could a photographer be there, see and catch such an intimate, candid moment? What he said to be The Decisive Moment. With the equipment available at that time. This was THE picture for me which changed everything, motivating me to go out and try to find great pictures around the next corner, never knowing what awaits me and what life has in store for me. After all, it’s all about curiosity.
© Henri Cartier-Bresson
As a teenager, I had a subscription of German GEO magazine, showing, among other things, the pictures taken by the famous German photojournalist Thomas Hoepker at regular intervals. These pictures also had a key influence on me. Although they were published in a documentary and journalistic context, they showed life on the streets of the world – street photography in the truest sense of the word –, whether in the German Democratic Republic of that time, New York, or Beijing. These were pictures which burned themselves into my memory and I have never forgotten them since then, providing me with internally memorized guardrails for my own photographic passion.
After a longer break dedicated to my professional career in the language industry, I had more time to spend on photography again starting from 2011 and have never stopped going out on the streets since then. My biggest influences today come from names like Martin Parr, Matt Stuart, Nick Turpin, Dougie Wallace, Fred Herzog or Tony Ray-Jones, just to name a few. I also do love the work of the contemporary photographers represented by collectives such as iN-PUBLIC, UP Photographers, OBSERVE, Little Box or The German Street Photography Site.
I see myself as a flaneur, an observer-with-a-camera, as invisible as possible, trying to see things that others might not see, to make something out of nothing, find something special in the ordinary. I like those little quirky, funny, or surprising things that only street life can give you. Playing with different layers and elements. Pictures that pose questions rather than provide answers. All of my photos were taken candidly; nothing is staged or manipulated. I like ordinary street scenes, often waiting until all the elements come together, often revisiting places. Often returning home with nothing.
What is more, I am a keen collector of photobooks. For me, it is important to explore the work from as many different photographers as possible, seeing and understanding their approaches and photographic languages, which helped me to find my own way and decide which of my own photos are good or not so good, something which I still find hard to tell sometimes. Finally, I am a music enthusiast and couldn’t live without it. Music also has a big influence on my photographic language.
I am located in the German city of Braunschweig.
All works © Thomas Hackenberg Photography 1984-2020
No further reproduction or copying without the express written consent of Thomas Hackenberg. Hi-resolution files of all photos are available upon request.
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