We meet photographer and student of communication design, Franz Grünewald at the train station Sonnenallee in Berlin on one of the first chilly autumn days of the year. We are curious what kind of person we’ll come across as Franz Grünwald is only 20 years old although his portfolio is already well filled with lots of exciting works.
As we sit down for a talk at a near by café, we quickly get the impression that the young photographer seems very mature though his open, curious and honest character portends that he’s just at the starting point of his career. Two years ago he came to Berlin to study communication design and to work as a freelance photographer. He mainly concentrates on portraiture as the edge and irregularity in peoples faces attract him the most.
We met Franz Grünewald for a photowalk through the High-Deck-Siedlung in Neukölln where he introduces us to one of his favorite shooting-locations through the lens of his camera. Find more favorite locations, the resulting images and an interview with Franz Grünewald below. Enjoy.
Please introduce yourself shortly
My name is Franz Grünewald, I am 20 years old and I am from Plauen, a small village in Saxony. I moved to Potsdam right after I finished school to study communication design. A year ago I moved to Berlin and I am working as a photographer.
You’re still pretty young. When did you start taking pictures?
Yes, that’s right. I started six years ago when I was 14, today I am 20. I started taking photos during a family holiday and I realized, that I found it really interesting. I was thinking about how I could improve my pictures for the next holiday and started to dig deeper into photography.
I actually learned a lot from the internet, via You Tube and photographers I looked up to. I started saving for my own camera and captured objects that wouldn’t run away such as flowers and stuff. Step by step I started photographing people and this is what I do today. It’s what I enjoy the most.
When and where did people start noticing your work?
With my portraits of actors it started out with a friend who was a drama school student. I just took pictures of him and some friends of him really liked it and wanted me to take their photos too. After some time I had photographed the students of the entire drama school. Then other students wanted me to photograph them as well and recently I portrayed an actor couple from Hamburg that came here to be photographed by me.
Are you from a creative background?
No, not at all. I just had one greatuncle who used to travel a lot, taking analogue images. He’d always return with very interesting pictures that were different from the average holiday imagery. He tried to capture the essence of things and this is what I do today and what fascinated me from early on.
Who would you like to photograph some day?
I’d really like to photograph Soap&Skin, I also like their music. Blixa Bargeld of Einstürzende Neubauten, a very broken soul. I’d like to photograph Nick Cave or Tom Hardy, people like that. I always enjoy when the image can benefits from an interesting character. Sure, there are many beautiful people out there but they don’t necessarily look special and a picture get’s more interesting when there is an edge, something that feels off.
Can you give young photography enthusiasts an advice?
It sounds simple, but just do it. I never thought too much about it and I still don’t think about what I want to do in 5 years, I just keep working. I find it important to take pictures of everything. You should photograph at home, everyday, at the subway, with your cell, with the DSLR, with a disposable camera, just take pictures and look into the results for more than 10 seconds.
What do you enjoy least and most about Berlin?
I don’t like that it’s so superficial… but then again I like the most that it’s so superficial (laughs). It’s this balancing act that makes Berlin special. The open and the secretive, the beauty and the ugly, there are always two hearts beating in one chest and you can hate Berlin and love it, all at once.
Tell us about your favourite spots to make photos in Berlin.
I am often going location scouting and I really like the architecture at Karl-Marx-Allee. I often use it for portraits of actors. I love to be at Grunewald which is right by my house and there is a beautiful sand pit that offers lots of natural light. The High-Deck-Siedlung is also great for taking pictures, it has a very unique look. I also like the Volkspark in Potsdam. There is an old, roofed basketball field that is very special, I think it has been used as a filmset for a science fiction movie as well.