Interview with Photographer Andreas Levers
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Andreas Levers, a photographer from Germany. His sublime architectural photography made a huge impression on me when I featured his work in our Artist Watch just a couple days ago. I wanted to learn more about the man behind these bold, precise shots.
Chris Al-Aswad: According to your bio, you’re not a professional photographer. Have you thought about pursuing photography full-time?
Andreas Levers: While I like photography very much I would not want to give up my current job. It is varied and fun, jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none work, and last but not least, stable. Knowing the struggles of some pro photographers in my area I came to believe that I would lose the enthusiasm and creativity once I had to make a living from photography.
CA: Can you talk a little bit about how you developed your skill in photography? Did you study photography? Have you taken pictures since you were young?
Andreas Levers: I have no formal education in photography and took merely snapshots before I bought my first D-SLR around 4 years ago. The first few thousands of pictures were just learning by doing. After I met with some other enthusiasts and participated in photowalks and regular meet-ups to discuss images, I invested far more energy and time.
Constructive feedback and encouragement from peers, in real life and online, is very valuable to me. While I own some literature and instructional videos I firmly believe that setting myself goals and pushing myself to take better pictures makes me learn the most.
CA: Your work possesses an uncanny sense of spatial perception. It is said that Frank Lloyd Wright’s success as an architect was due to his recognition of the many different ways in which people experience space. Can you discuss how your architectural photography explores the relationship between the perception of space and the experience of space?
Andreas Levers: I attribute some of it to my bad eyesight that makes me wear glasses which interfere with my perception of depth. Beyond that I really forced myself to see a scene in only two dimensions and cover one eye to shift my perception of a room. If the environment allows it I walk around with the viewfinder raised to my eye and closely watch how objects and lines change while I move slowly. If possible I try to put a space in relation to a known shape or silhouette whenever possible. A lot of my preferred shots feature human silhouettes that provide context to otherwise abstract shapes. With all these approaches I try to close a gap between the experience and what I can capture.
CA: Of the many buildings you’ve photographed, some include the Adlershof in Berlin, the Hauptbahnhof station, the Deutsche Historische Museum, and the Bauhaus Dessau, what draws you to this specific type of architecture?
Andreas Levers: I would draw a parallel to typography here. To me these buildings are in some way like a very well designed sans-serif font. Seemingly simple the buildings are intricate, functional, uncluttered and still have a unique character and atmosphere. These buildings don’t hide their purpose behind layers of unnecessary ornament. The Bauhaus in Dessau is one of my all time favorites: A building that is almost 85 years old and still stands the test of time. For my photography I like the way I can combine clean lines, repeating patterns and the overarching geometry into an interesting interpretation. Ideally in a way where a part represents the whole.
CA: What type of camera do you use? Can you talk a little bit about your process in photography?
Andreas Levers: At first I try to find interesting locations either by walking around the city aimlessly or by searching the web for information on unusual buildings. When I go for a specific building or location I try to get the best possible weather and timing as light is something you can not influence in exterior photography.
For the technical part, I use a Canon 5D Mark II with several different lenses. To preserve as much latitude as possible I take my shots in RAW and organize them in Bridge for further editing in Photoshop. Most of the time I have a quite clear vision of the result I want to achieve in post processing. With architectural images the editing steps are selective contrast and tonal adjustments, fixing minor glitches like lens flares and increasing local contrast.
CA: Who are some of your favorite photographers that have influenced you? Why do you admire these photographers?
Andreas Levers: There are too many to mention them all but here are some of my Flickr contacts whose work I admire very much: Joel Tjintjelaar because each of his seascapes is an escape into a more quiet world; Adam Baker because he is a master in landscape and macro photography; Gerd Mittelberg who has a talent to find interesting photos in the most mundane urban places.
CA: Do you show your work in any galleries? Are you represented by any galleries?
Andreas Levers: I don’t show my work in galleries and I have no representation. The few images I’ve sold are part of the Flickr-Getty-Cooperation. I don’t quite think that I am good enough for an exhibition and that I still need to define a unique style. Right now I still switch a lot between over-the-top editing, black-and-white, landscape, nature and all the other themes that spark my interest.
CA: Lastly, what have you learned as a photographer in terms of life? What has photography taught you as a human being?
Andreas Levers: That beauty is even in the smallest or most mundane thing. And it gets better the more you share the experience with others.