Main image by Alberto Ferrero
By breaking away from the contemporary photography trends and sticking to the classic documentary style street photography, the Berlin Street Photography Club, aka BLNSPC, finds a way to capture the authentic. Their style encapsulates the quirkiness of Berlin in all of its not-too-serious glory.
Berlin is full of excitement and weird-happenings. In this Metropolis, you’ll never know what or who you might run into. The streets and squares are filled with exciting things and the free-spiritedness of its citizens is always on display. BLNSPC is excellent at capturing the uniqueness of the city and the candidness of the people.
The founders of the club are photographers Alessandro Iotti, co-founder of Safelight Berlin, and Alberto Ferrero, art director of Amorelie. Their emphasis on realism and candidness is shared between the members of their collective. On March 15, 2019, the club had their first launch in collaboration with Safelight Berlin. Here we get the lowdown on how the new club emerged, and how they got to be where they are right now.
How did you first get into photography?
Alberto: I studied photography at university. These studies opened a totally new world for me, and I felt I was fitting perfectly. At that time, I often used my camera to shoot graffiti in my hometown.
Alessandro: I was about 17 when my uncle, a photographer, introduced me to photography. He taught me all the rudiments, how to use cameras, the development and printing process and so on. Since that moment my passion led me to work, among others, for Polaroid Originals and recently to open my own company, Safelight Berlin, with my friend and BLNSPC member Chris Morgan.
What attracts you to street photography?
Alessandro: Being able to capture certain moments and to frame people and urban spaces in a sort of representative depiction of everyday life. A few keywords identify what you can find in almost all of our shots: authenticity, surprise, fun, and perspective. These are the things that interest us the most, representing the reality that surrounds us without sweetening it. Street photography should be like this, no compromises and eventually confrontations.
So, how did the two of you come up with the concept of the BLNSPC? What’s the story?
Alberto: We thought we had a very different style from what you see in Berlin and realized that no one was representing it. We wanted to connect with other talented photographers in Berlin to join forces and create something meaningful together. Our goal is to get our art out of the usual channels: Instagram, Facebook and so on, publishing magazines and photo books, doing collaborations with other SPC and exhibitions. We are bored of being seen only on a small screen.
What are your personal favorites subjects to photograph, aside from the streets of Berlin?
Alberto: Our main subjects are people. A few keywords identify what you can find in almost all of our shots: authenticity (realness), surprise, fun, and perspective.
We wanted to connect with other talented photographers in Berlin to join forces and create something meaningful together.
Are the streets of Berlin a good place for this type of photography, and if so, why?
Alessandro: Berlin is a city full of characters, nationalities and different social and religious backgrounds all out there, on the street, “waiting” to be photographed.
In what ways do your other projects/jobs (Amorelie and Safelight Berlin) interact with the elements of the BLNSPC?
Alberto: There are a few elements that can be found both in my street photos and the projects at Amorelie. Authenticity is definitely one of these.
Alessandro: Thanks to my job I had the opportunity to meet photographers with great talent and with whom I feel akin to interests and background. In a way I like to think thats BLNSPC is a sort of Safelight Berlin’s relative and both go hand in hand.
How are members of the club chosen?
Alberto: In the beginning, the selection was made between a small group of friends and from there through word of mouth we were able to involve other photographers that we didn’t know, but with whom we were in tune with style and intentions. Having said this, we do not consider ourselves a closed and elitist group, we are always happy to welcome people at our meetings and get to know each other. Then, if the chemistry is positive, it might end up in a closer relationship.
What are some things we can look forward to from BLNSPC after the launch exhibition?
Alberto: One of the reasons we set up BLNSPC is to have fun and to meet people. We want to collaborate with other collectives around the world; we are already connected to Tokyo SPC, for example. Moreover, we are working on future events and publications. Definitely a lot to look forward to, so keep your eyes peeled!
We do not consider ourselves a closed and elitist group.
If someone is interested in viewing Berlin’s streets through a new light what advice would you offer them?
Alessandro: To be open and less judgy. Sometimes what society considers ugly, inadequate, out of context and so on can be exactly the opposite. We think there is a lot of beauty, fun and surprise in humans, animals, things and places more than we can imagine. You have just to open your eyes and your mind and see things under a different light.
Do you have conversations with the people that appear in your photographs? If so, are there any good stories they’ve told you?
Alessandro: Personally not (and I can also speak for Alberto) but other members don’t have our problem, the language barrier. For example, Kalle Krahmer loves to spend time with his subjects, not always, of course, but if he has the opportunity he tries to create a sort of bond with the subject and understand with whom he is speaking, going beyond the mere photographic moment.
Below is the picture by Kalle and the story behind it:
“I met them while they were scavenging a found baby stroller to build a bike trailer for their dog, Chernobyl. I spent two hours drinking with them and helping them put together the trailer. In summer they want to make their way up north by bike. Chernobyl is turning 15 and she cannot make the way up on her own feet. This is how they earn their money.”
What is special about Berlin compared to other cities?
Alessandro: Berlin is a sort of Babylon, where more or less everyone lives together without giving each other too much troubles. We think the city, for a photographer, is a source of potential/unique moments to frame. Berlin has definitely an infinite source of these kinds of situations.
If you could go anywhere in the world to photograph, where would it be?
Alberto: This is a very easy answer for me. I visited Tokyo twice and I loved to shoot there. That’s why I am going back there soon to complete my upcoming project “Youth”.
Alessandro: My girlfriend is from Kiev and I’ve visited her city already a couple of times. I immediately found myself at ease. I really love Ukraine and its people are friendly and welcoming. For this reason, we often talk about doing a road trip to discover other places in Ukraine, I would like to discover her land and photograph not only the cities but also the most remote and less known places.