Who is Dirk Vogel - Leica Shooter

Dirk Vogel (no, not that one), 45, hails from a town in Germany very near and dear to our hearts - Lüdenscheid/Altena (though now he lives in Dortmund, not far away). As a freelance photographer, he primarily uses a Canon 5D and Leica M9... But for his personal work he prefers black and white film to use with one of his multiple film Leicas, including an M3, M2, M4, M5, 2xM6, R6.2 and R8! He's shared his setups not once but twice. He's had several exhibitions and even published a couple of books. There's an extensive interview, mostly about the latter, with him on the local website unser Lünsche (our Lüdenscheid) called "Who is Dirk Vogel?" (in German) by Iris Kannenberg.

Translated to English (via Google):

Yes, who is Dirk Vogel, anyway? A good question. He's only once a well-known photographer from Lüdenscheid Altena. Dirk has already published several books and is familiar with such famous people like Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Wladimir Kaminer or Wolf Biermann personally. To name just a few. He photographed a lot in black / white with analog cameras and he is someone who regularly flies for the company ERCO Europe. Architecture photographed. And light. Again and again light and its effect on people, things, and life itself. It is very versatile. And very talented. With many exhibition of his works everywhere in Germany. Exciting.

I meet with him at Karolina's for an interview. We still do not know really. Once again a "blind date". This time arranged by Christina Appelt. She finds him great. I've only once curious.

He sits in front of his coffee on Karolina's bank and looks kind of cozy. I squeeze down on the chair next to it, buy something and after a really stressful day now here with Dirk at once a good, relaxed feeling. From him go from invisible waves of calm and serenity, put me in a "chill" mode, which could last from me a few years. As an emanation must Hermann Hesse "Siddartha" have had under his tree and indeed AFTER his enlightenment.

Now I want to know about him, someone comes along so calm, has probably been through a lot, processed positive for themselves and thereby acquired a certain amount of wisdom more. Nice he seems also to be more. I build all my stuff around me, laptops, cameras, recording equipment and immediately see that he is not impressed. He knows everything as his own pocket. We start most directly before it starts to get bored. The coffee can wait for now.

Dirk, I do not know a lot about you, except that you can, for example, even longer as a press photographer on the go were you doing exhibitions and have already published several books. Where exactly do you positionierst you as a photographer? Are you more of the artist or rather a press photographer and always looking for the latest story? Or are you both and take it as it comes straight?

So, with the press photography I actually completed. That's what I've done for the "Westfälische Rundschau" during my school days and then a total of nearly 12 years. Was there but still do not feel like it, because this kind of journalism was always flat and meaningless over time. Therefore, I have nothing more to do with press photography. Play of light and shadow. Play of light and shadow. Photo: Dirk Vogel

I probably do commercial photography, eg for ERCO in Lüdenscheid, or architects and designers, for I will document their projects. Last year me this architectural and reportage orders to Milan, Paris, Dublin, Belfast, Prague and Bratislava and led across Germany, from Emden to Munich. And artistic pictures of me are also expected to happiness. These photos are digital and in color.

Added to this my own issues that I pick myself and I always shoot analog, mainly black / white. I have two picture books published in Germany, one is called "moments - Portraits of Jews in Germany," the other "Faces of the Peaceful Revolution" shows 63 former GDR civil rights and civil rights activists that I have portrayed 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

How did you come to the subject of "Portraits of Jews in Germany". If yes still in Germany no simple.

This has actually started 20 years ago, during my photo design studies in Dortmund. A key task during the study was to make a documentary about a cultural center and museum, in non-German European countries. And since I had just photographed about Sinti, who then went to Auschwitz, because there was a memorial to the Sinti and Roma destruction, I said to myself, ok, Auschwitz is a museum and indeed probably geographically largest museum in Europe. So I went with them to Auschwitz.

There I photographed for a week and was very Sinti this theme in it. Until the last night I met German Jews. And since it has "CLICK" made in my head: "Strange, you have to go to Auschwitz to German Jews to take? In Germany you do not actually single. Why no where Jews can be found with us? So, catch at times but also photographically to worry about you. "

The idea was then, only once to make a small report about it, so stories of Jewish life in Germany. But that is initially failed because I did not know any people. I drove to Cologne in 1995 as it was for the first time since 1945, publicly Hanukkah menorah lit (Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in the Jewish year 3597 (164 v. Chr.) After the successful Maccabean revolt of the Jews Judea against Hellenized Jews. Hanukkah is celebrated a bit earlier than the Christian Christmas is one of the most important Jewish holidays of the year. The ed.).

There I took pictures and got to know in this way George Pusenkoff, a very successful Jewish artist. I have made friends with him. He lives in Moscow and came in the 90 years after Germany. He has encouraged me to pursue this matter further. Has motivated me by saying that it was important to take a picture of Jewish life in Germany, since there would be no pictures of it.

I then portrayed him and a year later to celebrate the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and is always celebrated around the time when it is celebrated by Christians Easter photograph the Passover Seder in his family (Passover. Conceptually, the similar important as the feast of Easter, of course, only a few 1000 years older. The Red.) My turn came so on portrait photography to the life-stories of the people portrayed.

Do you have what followed?

Yes, I have, in Berlin, Dortmund, Selm, Gelsenkirchen, Cologne, Dorsten. Through my thesis I had then a large network of contacts to Jewish life in Germany.

Have you been to Israel?

No, I'm interested only times not at all. I'm interested in Jewish life here. On Site. I am a German photographer who chooses his subjects here. In that case, I got my degree with 58 portraits of German Jews and then have then even further searches contacts. In 1999, with my diploma exhibition at the "Städtische Galerie Iserlohn". My Colloquium was there, and the professors are then also came there. This was to make an absolute godsend, because Iserlohn by the compounds to Magnum (most famous international photo agency) quasi yes is a center for major photographic exhibition. To my exhibition also includes over 100 visitors were on opening night after because, inter alia, the spokesman for LEICA and ERCO. A better framework can not wish for as a newcomer really. That was great.

Then I always have gone ahead with the Jewish portraits, my turn left in the topic and have found a publisher in 2002, wanted to lay my book. I then photographed again very specifically and then got too so people like Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Ralph Giordano or Wladimir Kaminer front of the camera. They had time, as they knew that there is behind a publisher. 2003 came the book with 75 portraits on the market.

Since I am only times really flat. To get the reach Marcel Ranicki front of the camera, that is something B esonderes. Do you also get contacts directly in the Jewish communities in?

Yes, mainly to Berlin and Dortmund. The Jewish Museum of Westphalia in Dorsten is a very good working relationship has developed. 2004 had a major exhibition done to me: 50 portraits and reportage 25 photos from the Jewish life of the present.

I think it's really important that you as process this topic, because this topic is still not arrived in the consciousness of the German population properly.

Although Jewish life has by now experienced a real flower. All the more incomprehensible.

I look at Dirk's picture book. Very nice black / white images of impressive people. Sensitive texts, never voyeuristic but always protected in a loving frame. You can tell the book is that of heart and soul that Dirk has went into this much time, emotions, work. For some pictures, I get smooth the tears, so they touch me. This book everyone should take time to hand, who wants to know something about Jews in Germany. As soon as I'm feeling technically back on track, he holds out the next book out with a similarly controversial topic. This time it's all about former civil rights activist in the GDR. Again, black / white photography. Almost the first image that I open, showing Wolf Biermann. I have to swallow. What people Dirk because there in front of the camera? The German history documents since 1933 in all facets and secured based on portraits of real people. Here I look at eyes that had been through what we have learned in the classroom. Wolf Biermann and the whole drama of his departure I've noticed quite real as a child. His relationship with Eva Hagen. And his step-daughter Nina, who was also famous.

That's a lot to process. Only Jewish history and now this.

Yes, true somehow. This book was published in 2011 and presented in Berlin in the former Stasi prison with exhibition opening and presentation of Roland Jahn, on his second day as state support representative. I wanted the book to show not only well-known people, but also those that you do not know. That was important to me.

Since I can only agree. It is really important that you just are where a face. Both topics that you have processed there, are not simply, but very explosive. Are controversial, are also still feel anxious.

For me it was a so-called "litmus test". How is ticking actually our society? How do they react to such uncomfortable topics. The ice is thin, you walk on then. In both subjects, people riled in a way that really shocks me sometimes. Since old prejudices against Jews will again be unearthed or civil reviled as traitors. One really wonders how deep the still sitting in some there, and how deeply rooted prejudices in the society. Exhibition of his paintings at the Zion Church in Berlin. Exhibition of his paintings at the Zion Church in Berlin. Photo: Dirk Vogel

I would like to make a second book about "Jewish Life in Germany" with this reportage photos, the little stories from everyday life and public holidays. Then I would have finished this topic for me. Maybe this will work out together with the Jewish Museum in Dorsten. My lyrics I write not himself, but they are written by real authors. In the book of the civil rights activists I decided along with the editors of the Robert Havemann Society that if I as a Westerner do the photos, the texts are written by authors from the East.

Dirk me a list of famous authors around the ears, who wrote his books skin. I will be a little dizzy and I decide definitely, each of his books, again through to scour the privacy and all to myself alone and me to go and look after all the literary and photographic treasures that are hidden in it.

You have a very special relationship with Berlin, right?

Yes, in 2014 I was alone eight times in Berlin. This has just happened. Through the books and my interest in the city. I know there just now many people feel comfortable there. If somehow my city. I also had relatively many exhibitions in Berlin in 2014. For example, in the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Zion Church. It has then found another exhibition at the Protestant Church, and at a politically engaged a lawyer. In addition, I also take pictures again and again in the streets of Berlin. Together with the poet Esther Dischereit that I have photographed for my Jewish portraits, I would also love to turn a book. Photos and poems from this project, we have been able to publish in a Canadian literary magazine. And then I photograph also still a series on Altena and, and, and ...

We talk for a long time. About how he love to shoot analog. Preferably with LEICA, the cult camera par excellence. Show me one of his "babies", a LEICA 195 6 that still works perfectly. Tell me about his photo lab where he developed himself nor his films and subtracting. We talk shop doing a round of photo paper. I used to also as its own laboratory and sometimes drove in the former East Germany, there to buy paper that it was there and was so bad that it was brilliant for it again to bring special effects to photos.

And he tells me about his new project, namely to photograph the Stasi prison in Berlin. From the colors in it, these non-colors rather, times are still left there from the GDR. Matt green, beige and gray colors that determined the daily life of the prisoners. That former prisoners now make the guides there. As the former prisoners in Auschwitz also do this. Because they are, it is not broken, despite the incredible things that have happened to them, but to shake, remember, want to prevent forgetting. A concern that drives Dirk.

This thing never to happen again. Not here, not here in Germany.