Street Photography in Hamburg, Germany

Street Photography in Hamburg, Germany

Cyclist riding over a Bridge in Hamburg

Introduction

Dear StreetHunters.net Readers,

This weekend I visited the city of Hamburg in Germany, to film a Street Hunt video sponsored by Cosyspeed, the company that produces the Camslinger camera bags that are a great companion for any Street Photographer. I stayed in Hamburg for 3 nights and during that time I was lucky enough to meet some very interesting and nice people, to walk the fabulous streets of Hamburg, to taste local food and drinks and to learn a few German words that helped me get around. My trip was full of Street Photography and walking, full of amazement at the architecture and the sheer size of the city and finally full of excitement about seeing new things! The only thing I thought I didn’t handle all too well was the cold. I know that many of you live in equally cold places, some in even colder ones, but being used to the moderate weather of Crete, I felt quite chilly. So, I kept moving, I kept going until by the end of my trip I had covered 22 solid hours of walking. Would I do it again? 100% yes!!! If I woke up in Hamburg tomorrow, I would be on the street for hours on end taking photographs of everything that interested me!

So what is this post about?

This post is about my trip to Hamburg, presented to you in a nutshell. I decided to write this for you since the video will take at least a few weeks to get ready. I have to go through more than 90 video clips and 150 photos. So, there is no possible way to have this ready for today or next week. But worry not, it is on it’s way and I promise you, you will like it because I am not alone this time. I start with Thomas Ludwig, about whom I will tell you all about shortly and by the end of the Street Hunt I am accompanied by 7 fine gentlemen. So, this is a Street Hunt with a lot of Street Photography, discussions and enjoyable moments. I am really looking forward to pulling all the material together and presenting you with the final video in three weeks. Until then, please read on and enjoy my experiences.

Special Thanks to Cosyspeed

Cosyspeed. Sponsor of the Hamburg Street Hunt
Cosyspeed – Camera Gear for Mirrorless Heroes. The official Hamburg Street Hunt sponsor. www.cosyspeed.com

Before I continue, I would like to thank Cosyspeed for giving me this wonderful opportunity to do Street Photography in an amazing city. Because of Cosyspeed I broadened my horizons even more, I made new friends and saw new places. Thank you very much Cosyspeed for this and I hope we can do more Street Hunts again in the future!

Day 1

I will start my story from the second I landed in Hamburg. Anything before that involves many hours of flying, that isn’t really all that interesting. At 17:15 on the 12th of December 2014 I arrived in beautiful Hamburg. I could tell it was a big city from the airplane window seat I had. It was dark, but the city lights went on indefinitely in all directions. So, I landed, went to baggage claim and then headed out. A few hours before, Hamburg Street Photographer and Fujifilm X-Photographer, Marco Larousse had messaged me telling me that he would come and get me from the airport. I had never met Marco before, but from various communications we had had online, I was pretty sure that he was a great guy.

So, I popped out of the baggage claim and into the main airport area and the first thing I saw there was a guy amongst many others holding an iPad with the Street Hunters logo on the screen and a yummy Fujifilm X100T around his neck! I knew it was Marco instantly! We greeted each other and hopped onto the train and headed to my hotel where I could dump my suitcase. A short while later we had reached my hotel, the Hanseport in Reeperbahn, dropped of my suite case and were geared up and ready to hit the streets. It was dark and cold, so I decided to use a beanie and a hood to warm up.

Spyros Papaspyropoulos in Hamburg
Spyros Papaspyropoulos in Hamburg – photo by Marco Larousse

For my first experience of Hamburg, I walked to the Hamburg docks and got a glimpse of the harbour. I made a few shots around there and then we walked around the streets of Reeperbahn by night and experienced a place just bursting with life! For all of you that don’t know of Reeperbahn, it is famous for having Hamburg’s Red Light district. So, we saw quite a few interesting characters there and enjoyed our Street Hunt.

Street Photographer Marco Larousse in Hamburg

Once we had seen Reeperbahn, we grabbed a bite and shot some more and ended the night in an Irish pub drinking pints of Guinness. Marco is a very experienced photographer that knows everything about his Fujifilm gear. Besides being an inspiring Street Photographer, Marco is a wonderful person with a great sense of humor. I enjoyed myself a lot and because of him, my first experience of Hamburg was the best one possible.

Thank you very much Marco my friend!

Day 2

I had a meeting for breakfast with Thomas Ludwig at 08:00 at the Hanseport Hotel. I had never met Thomas before, we had only corresponded via email and Facebook. Thomas is the General Manager and owner of Cosyspeed, the company that sponsored my trip to Hamburg and the Street Hunt video that is currently in the making. Thomas is a very cool guy! Enthusiastic and open to new ideas. We are very compatible in our thinking and I knew the minute I met him that spending the whole day with Thomas would be awesome! And awesome it was!

After breakfast we headed out to get to work. A Street Hunt was being born. The locations had all been picked by Thomas. He had discussed possible routes with Marco during the previous days, so I was heading on a tour of the city that was extra special and I felt excited about it! We left the hotel and headed to the train station. From there we took the train to the Central Station of Hamburg. We started out Street Hunt there. During this Street Hunt I recorded everything via my Sony Action Cam as always, but Thomas that was with me was also recording! So, this time round you will have a mixture of 1st and 3rd person Street Photography action. Thomas and myself filmed for 3 hours before we got a call from Martin Waltz and Thoedoros T., two StreetHuntes.net Readers and highly active SHRC members that visited Hamburg from other parts of Germany to join us. We decided to meet them and to continue the Street Hunt all together, but before that, Thomas and myself had a little something to eat and drink. I tried German sausage with mustard and gluhwein, a mulled red wine recipe with spices. Amazing stuff! Warmed me up in seconds! The time to meet Martin and Theodoros had arrived and there they were!

Theodoros and Martin

It was such a great feeling to finally meet people I had been interacting with online for the past year! Both of them were really pleasant to be around and great, great shooters! So, the 4 of us took off and continued filming the Street Hunt together. It felt really awesome making a Street Hunt with my new friends. It made the whole experience so much richer and interesting. Exchanging ideas about compositions and situations, gave me a different perspective on things. I found it hugely rewarding. During our Street Hunt we came over various people, but the one I remember most, was this other Street Photographer that was pretending not to be taking our photos. I think that because we were a small and quite loud group, he found us interesting and at the traffic lights he was shooting away. The four of us decided to take his photo while crossing the street at the same time! We thought it would be fun and boy was it fun! Check out the look on this guy’s face when he saw all 4 of us photographing him. I don’t think his wife was all that happy either!

Photographer being photographed by the Street Hunters

All four of us covered a lot of ground on foot. We walked from the Rathaus (City Hall) all the way to Magdeburger Brücke (Magdeburger Bridge) about 2.6km away and back again to the Hard Rock cafe at the Bei den Sankt-Pauli-Landungsbrücken which was about 3.5km from Magdeburger Brücke. There we met 4 more Street Hunter Readers, Endre Majoros and his son Finn, Jens Duggen and Stefan Arp. So the party grew, but only momentarily because Martin and Theodoros took a lunch break. So now the 6 of us, continued our Street Hunt and went into the area of Reeperbahn to make some photos there and after that we went back to meet Martin and Theodoros so we could visit the old Tunnel (St. Pauli Elbtunnel) that went under the river. So, now a group of 8 of us, started heading down into the tunnel and there we had a great time taking photos, using the tunnel shape, the available light and the various people for our compositions. After traversing the length of the tunnel and reaching the other side, we concluded the Street Hunt recording, made a group photo and headed back the way we came. That is where we said goodbye to Endre Majoros and his son Finn, Jens Duggen and Stefan Arp.

Hamburg Street Hunt members
Hamburg Street Hunt members – Photo by Martin Waltz

Thomas and myself were starving by that time, so we all decided to head to a restaurant to fill our bellies and regenerate. After an enjoyable meal, Thomas left and Theodoros, Martin and myself continued on our quest for street photography. It was now 19:00 and I had been on the streets for nearly 10 hours. But the night was young, we had our strength back and were ready to hit the streets of Hamburg once more!

So, now it was the dead of night, but not late, so people were going about their business. The trains were full of commuters and the streets full of people taking walks and enjoying Hamburg and it’s venues. So we thought about having some fun at the train stations. We found us a nice location and waited for people to go up and down some lovely stairs we saw and took photos. To spice things up, we made mist / smoke by exhaling carbon dioxide, so we could take photos of people seemingly coming down stairs surrounded by smoke. Ha ha ha! You should have seen us all exhaling as someone came down the stairs! People must have thought we were weird, but we didn’t care, we were having fun!

Man climbing down stairs

Once that was over, we headed up, into the station for a mission. Our mission was to wait for the train doors to close and then photograph people staring out at us through the windows! We grabbed some shots that we all liked, got some smiles and some frowns in return and enjoyed the success of our mission by heading out of the other side of the station to take more Street Photos!

Woman looking through train window

Cold was starting to kick in by this time and Martin’s train for Berlin was due in less than two hours, so we decided to head back to the Reeperbahn area. At least there Theodoros and myself could continue shooting in close vicinity to the hotel. So, smartphones came out, Google maps were fired up and we found a route to follow in order to get to our desired location. Once we reached the Reeperbahn area, Martin continued to the train station whereas myself and Theodoros ended up deciding to go for a drink instead. It was time to warm up. The cold was eating it’s way through me. I was now on the streets for 12 hours, so it was time for me to call it a day and to have some grappa and beer!

Saturday was such a rewarding day for me. I got to finally meet 3 people I have been in touch with online for a long time, but I also got to meet new people with a passion for Street Photography. I explored as much as Hamburg as was humanly possible on foot and took many photographs. Thank you Thomas, Theodoros, Martin, Endre, Finn, Jens and Stefan Arp for a great experience!

Day 3

I remember looking forward to Sunday from the moment I opened my eyes that morning. My flight to Greece wasn’t until the next morning at 06:30 am, but I felt that time was running out and I had to rush. I had my breakfast at the Hanseport Hotel at 08:00 am and then waited for the sun to come up. By 09:00 it was ok for me to head out, so I took my cameras with me and hit the streets. I usually don’t take 2 cameras with me, but today I wanted to shoot some film as well as digital, so I grabbed my Canon Canonet QL17, put some rolls of film in my Camslinger and my digital Sony NEX-6 with the SEL20F18 and hit the empty cold streets of Hamburg. I was so eager to photograph I didn’t notice how cold my hands were getting from the metal touch of the Canon. By the time I had reached the harbour, I couldn’t feel my right hand. The Canon was ice cold and it was getting hard for me to move the aperture and shutter speed rings. So, I tucked my right hand under my armpit through my leather jacket (good thing my jacket had buttons. That way I could get my hand through), when I wasn’t shooting and that gave me the heat I needed to continue on my Street Hunt. I was shooting for 2 hours before I got a call from Klaus Scherer telling me that he had reached my hotel. So, I turned around and headed back to pick Klaus up and to hit the streets with him for the 2nd time this year! My friend Klaus had already visited me once in Rethymno at the end of May, so this wasn’t the first time I was meeting him. I got back to the hotel and Klaus and myself got our cameras ready and headed back out. Klaus was using film, just like me. I had chosen a Kodak TMAX 400 for that morning. If I remember well, Klaus had chosen Kentmere 400. Anyway, we had a blast that morning.

We walked all the way from Reeperbahn up to Magdeburger Brücke because I really wanted to make some film shots on that bridge. On the way I picked up some gloves and all of a sudden I felt ready to go on for hours on end! My hands warm now, I was no longer cold, and the experience was even more enjoyable. So, we took our time, enjoyed the scenery and took street photos on the way. At one time, when we had reached Kibbelsteg, I changed my roll of film. I put some Ilford HP5 400 in the Canon and we continued. After that I was on fire! I made some really good shots and felt really good about myself. After reaching Magdeburger Brücke we decided to head back to the centre of town and go shooting there. Just before we reached the area that the Hard Rock cafe was, I noticed that my camera was advancing on and on well after the 36th frame. So I took a series of shots of the ground and nothing happened. Oh boy… something was wrong with the film. It had either not rolled in at all (so much for Canon’s Quick Loader System) or the film had broken off the end of the canister. I was afraid that the first option was more likely, which meant that no photos were made. I needed a dark room to check. My hotel bathroom would be ideal, but I wasn’t going back there now. There were only a few hours of light left. The film camera would have to wait for later. At this time I was really frustrated. Mostly with myself for not loading the camera correctly. But, hey, this was the first time in my life I had done so with no sense of feeling in my fingers. I thought it was in.

Klaus Scherer
Portrait of Klaus Scherer by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

So, I turned to Klaus and asked the mega question. “Hey man. I need to go back and try and make the same shots I made. Do you mind doing the same route again?” Basically I was asking Klaus to walk back about 3km to take photos of the same locations we had just visited. Of course, Klaus being very kind and accommodating, said yes! 

So we headed back and with his help we got identical shots. I think that my film shots were better, but hey, that’s life right!? So we followed the same path we followed from Kibbelsteg to Magdeburger Brücke and back. I can’t complain though. If it wasn’t for this mishap, I would have missed some other nice situations that we stumbled upon such as a model photo shoot in the middle of the street.

Model Shoot in Hamburg

So, 2 hours later, Klaus and myself were at the same point we were when we realised what had happened to my film. It was midday and we had about an hour of light left. So we decided to shoot as much as possible on our way back to the hotel. That photowalk was good. Many nice shots were made and even if the 2nd film was possibly empty, I was still enjoying myself a lot with my mate Klaus. Time was flying though and Klaus’ time for departure was nearing. So we headed back to the hotel briefly, were I checked the film in the camera and to my disappointment saw that the Quick Loader hadn’t grabbed the film, so it was empty. Oh well, the life of a Street Hunter has these ups and downs and now was the time for another upper! It was time to visit the Leica Exhibition. We had agreed earlier on with Klaus that we were going to see it together before he left, so off we went. About 30 minutes later, we were there.

Leica Exhibition in Hamburg

Wow, what an impressive exhibition that was. Not only did I get a chance to see nearly all Leica cameras ever made on display, from the very first to the very latest modern digital Leicas but I got to see hundreds of signed prints from famous photographers. I remember being 1 foot away from a signed Paul Frank photo, 1 foot away from a signed William Klein photo and more. Many, many more great names were on display in the exhibition centre. I wanted to take photos but the people there told me that if I was to take photos, I would have to sign a paper that the photos would be for my personal use only, so I thought, “What’s the point in that?”. Besides I couldn’t even try to take sneaky shots, because it was very quiet, since no one was talking and the Sony NEX-6 shutter isn’t silent. It would have been heard like a slap in the dead silence. I was a bit sad about that, but I felt it was better not to risk it. An hour later we left the exhibition with the most awesome feeling! Wow, the greats were not greats without reason. Seeing their photos, signed by them, there, hanging in front of my face, was a feeling I can’t describe. At least for me it was a great experience and if you are in Hamburg anytime soon, I urge you to pay the exhibition a visit.

Leaving the exhibition I got a pleasant surprise! Mr. Klaus had use a sneaky little digital pocket cam he carries around with him all the time to make some shots of the show! Ha, what a guy! Bravo Klaus! So, that way we had something to show you dear Readers. Klaus was kind enough to make a YouTube slideshow presentation of the photos which I would like to share with you here.

We were now on our way back to the Central train station where I would take the train back to Reeperbahn and Klaus would take his train back home. We still had some time to kill though, so we decided to hit the Christmas Markets in the area. We visited 3 of them! I had sausage with mustard and gluhwein! I liked gluhwein a lot! I also took some photos. But this time I shot mostly travel photos to share with my family at home. The Hamburg Christmas Markets are so beautiful and colourful, rich with yummy smells and happy people. Amazing. So, we took another walk with Klaus until it was time to head back to the train station. Klaus made some great street shots at the Hamburg Christmas Markets. I can’t wait to see them!

Hmaburg Christmas Market

It was the end of the journey for both of us now. We headed back to Central station, said our goodbyes and parted ways. My Hamburg Street Hunt experience was now over. I headed back to the hotel, got my things ready for the next morning, updated the SHRC with my latest news and hit the sack.

Conclusion

My visit to Hamburg couldn’t have been better dear Readers. As I said before, I met amazing people, I enjoyed shooting street there and I experienced new things. What more could a Street Photographer want from a 60 hour stay in one of Europe’s most versatile and impressive cities. I am very happy with what I managed to do during my time there and very thankful to Thomas Ludwig and Cosyspeed for giving me this fantastic opportunity! If you have not considered visiting Hamburg to shoot on the streets, I highly recommend you do so. Before you go don’t forget to take a look at the Hamburg Street Hunt video that will be out in 3 weeks, on the 7th of January and also listen to episode 6 of the Street Focus podcast where you can hear Marco Larousse and Valerie Jardin discussing the best places to shoot in Hamburg.

Stay Sharp & Keep Shooting!

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Fantastic article, sounds like 3 merry days of shooting! I hope you managed to save some of the film, i can recall many photographs i “lost” due to technical mishaps, i suppose that is the allure of shooting film. The challenge the process the result.

    • Hi Brian and thanks for your comment! Yes, I had a wonderful time in Hamburg, just taking photos all day long! The film I referred to in my post hadn’t wound up, so it never made any shots. I was shooting photos into thin air… Nevermind, this happens with film and as you very well said “that is the allure of shooting film”. I agree!
      Stay Sharp & Keep Shooting!

    • Thanks for commenting Edward! Yes, I had a fantastic time! Hamburg is one very impressive city, the people are welcoming and everything is nicely organised. The highlight of my trip was meeting the StreetHunters.net Readers! We had an amazing time and I am really looking forward to sharing it with you all soon!
      Stay Sharp & Keep Shooting!

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