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Fascination Street Photography Hans-Juergen Sommer - Foto Koch
Reading time: 8 minutes - June 09, 2022 - by in interview with Hans-Jürgen Sommer

Interview with Hans-Jürgen Sommer

Fascination Street Photography

Hans-Jürgen Sommer is fascinated by street photography and has found his passion in it. He discovered it for himself at the age of 40. For him it is the challenge regarding adaÌquate composition and exact timing. He does not adhere to the usual conventions in photography. If the quality is right, selective coloring also makes it into his narrow selection of images. In this interview you will get exciting insights into his work and what is particularly important to him in his photography.

What does photography mean to you and how did you get into it?

Photography is the substitute for painting for me. I would like to be able to paint, but I have no patience for it. The advantage of painting for me is that there are no limits. In photography, you have to be content with the scenario that comes your way. I love challenges and I always try to get the best out of a scene in terms of composition. It is not the image statement that is important, but the goal is a harmonious image that I would like to hang on my wall. Photography now takes up a large part of my life and is a way to give free rein to my creativity.

I started when I was 15. Before that I liked to paint, but freezing the moment relatively quickly, that's what excited me about photography. At that time I devoured tons of literature about the technique and composition.

Travel, street, black and white and much more - In which genre do you feel most at home?

I love street photography. Because here it depends very much on timing and composition, so that the result is coherent. In this case, the black-and-white treatment often fits, which mostly looks classy. But a colored version can also fit. In Germany and France, the guidelines regarding street photography are strict. Here, normal travel photography can also be very nice. Portraits also fascinate me. However, no model photography, I have also tried, but character heads with rough edges.

How do you go about your photography and how do you find your subjects?

I rarely go looking for motifs on my own, most of the time my wife or photo friends accompany me. When traveling, I am always under tension, I could miss an interesting motif. I have to thank my wife, she has a lot of understanding for my passion. Of course I try to find a balance between the time for photography and the time for my wife.

Over the years, I think I've trained my eye so that interesting situations and compositions catch my eye right away. In street photography, every second counts. In the meantime, I am convinced that a lot of things happen subconsciously for me. I'm often surprised at home on the computer that a photograph has succeeded, although the moment was very short, in which an interesting scene has arisen and I pulled the trigger.

How important is technology to you?

For me, the camera is like a paintbrush, a means to an end. Over the years, I have accumulated a few bodies and lenses. I am only demanding in two things, in the fastest shutter speed (min. 1/8000) for my fast lenses in good light and aids for focusing my manual lenses (Focus Peaking). I always shoot with aperture priority, because in street photography every second counts, there I also appreciate the autofocus. Meanwhile, I like the compactness of system cameras, especially when traveling. Currently, I'm thinking of shooting with just one lens on our upcoming trip to Paris. And with a 90mm manual, very fast lens, that will be a challenge again.

What or who inspires you?

First I mention the situation in an underpass in Munich from the city center to the English Garden. There were skylights through which the light shone. And there sat a street musician with his clarinet. A beam of light fell directly on his instrument. I simply had to capture this mood of light.

Mostly I use, now some will turn up their nose, a zoom lens for my street photography. One situation encouraged me to do so. We were on the roof of a hotel in Santiago de Cuba after a rain shower. Down on the street I saw an interesting scene and was able to capture it, thanks to 300mm focal length (full frame). In my opinion, one of my best photographs in terms of timing and composition.

When we were in Thailand, one evening I took pictures of the insanely beautiful sunset with the sea and the typical longtail boats, picturesque. My wife just said "be a little romantic". But I had other priorities that evening, unfortunately. My wife really has a lot of understanding for me.

Where are your images published?

For years I have had a portfolio website with increasing user numbers. For about a year I have a second site: a travel photo blog. On this site I show beautiful travel impressions from the destinations my wife and I have visited. You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook. A few years ago, I took a portrait of a relatively well-known artist at an art opening. I shared this expressive portrait with Wikipedia. Years ago I sold my pictures at a Christmas market for a good cause. The charity idea is close to my heart. Also I had already an exhibition, but I am no longer willing to advance. An exhibition should only cost the artist something when sold.

About Hans-Jürgen Sommer

Born in Speyer am Rhein in 1969 and raised in the provinces around Ludwigshafen, Hans-JuÌrgen Sommer turned to the beautiful arts at an early age. He enjoyed painting, but at the age of 15 he discovered photography. Capturing the right moment fascinated him. A photograph was precious in those analog times. So he had to deal intensively with each picture, even at the planning stage. This still benefits him today.

With the advent of digital photography, he lived out his passion even more intensively and was able to incorporate his experience in the field of information technology into his workflow. This opened up new creative possibilities for him.

At the age of 40, he discovered travel and street photography for himself. For him, this was a challenge in terms of adequate composition and precise timing.

He is particularly fond of Paris, which, from a photographic point of view, is the most beautiful city he knows.

Hans-JuÌrgen Sommer does not adhere to the usual conventions in photography. If the quality is right, selective coloring also makes it into his narrow selection of images.

He has exhibition experience and has also been involved in charity work in the past.


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