A short note on photography

Photography observes. It observes what is being photographed just as much as the person behind the viewfinder interprets what is being photographed. During my time in Berlin, I have taken thousands of photographs of monuments, architecture, random people, the sky…some of which I have shared on Facebook and this blog, but all of which will shape my memory of quintessential Berlin when I leave. 

The other day I was looking through the photos I have uploaded of Berlin on my Facebook, and realized how the progression of what and how I choose to photograph has reflected how I experienced Berlin, and how that changed between August and now. My first few photos look a little something like this:

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All taken within the first day of being in Berlin, these photos are nothing really special, if not the blank gaze of a stranger that only scrapes the surface of Berlin, much like the highlighted attractions of a hop on, hop off tour. Most photos are for the sake of taking photos, proof that you have seen something.

Gradually, as I dug deeper into Berlin, my photographs began to change. They began to take on Berlin’s character and not just how it appears to the naked eye. The more I delved into Berlin’s districts – Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Neukölln – and the more I interacted with the city’s pulsing culture did this begin to change. Random doors, graffiti, moss, and broken windows became the subjects of my photos. Seemingly ordinary things that capture a certain moment or experience more than the thing itself.

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In a way, these photographs won’t only function as observations and documentations of what I saw. But as a whole will become a remembered observation of the character and pulse of Berlin in my own eyes, and a visual memory of the Berlin I grew so attached to as a study abroad student.

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