I have always been a "media guy" producing movies as a hobby during my teenage years or taking a friend’s camera to shoot some nice pics at university events. But I never considered myself as someone who was particularly talented… it always felt like a hobby that I was good at and that I enjoyed – not more and not less.
It was about two years ago when I was introduced to Instagram as a photo sharing platform during a trip to Istanbul. At that point, I had already been a passionate phone camera adicionado, but I lacked the tools to edit and the channel to share my pictures. While I never followed the #selfie-craze, my first pictures using my Google Nexus phone were quite underwhelming to say it frankly.
Fascinated by the ease of use of the app and inspired by the many talented photographers that I started to follow, I felt incentivized to not only use the platform more but also to improve my skills. I would meticulously examine the pictures that showed up on my feed and try to understand what made those pictures so beautiful and interesting. Sometimes it was the light, other times it was the angle or the motive that was captured. Just by observing other photographer’s work, I was able to absorb techniques and develop ideas.
As time passed, I received an increasing amount of compliments for the snapshots I was taking. After the initial phase of encouragement, I also started to receive more questions about how it would be possible to take those shots just using my phone. Up until this day, my phone (and the software I have downloaded on it) has been the only piece of equipment I have. In fact, I changed to an iPhone last year because of the superior camera quality (I still think that iOS sucks and that it’s a matter of time until Android-powered phones will surpass the iPhone in terms of picture quality).
While I managed to improve my photography skills over the past years, my followership on Instagram as a platform was quite negligible. It wasn’t until September 2013 when my picture of the Munich underground station was featured in a weekly round-up of the best pictures on the Instagram blog. For an amateur like me this was a pure thrill! A much bigger event then happened in February of 2014 when my account was featured on Instagram’s Suggested User List. Within just a week my followership grew from 1k to over 13k and beyond that ever since. It wasn’t until I received a licensing deal from a publishing company though that gave me the confidence to consider myself a semi-professional photographer (I probably won’t drop the “semi” until I can make a proper living off this).
While I do care about how many followers I have, I find it far more important to know that people find inspiration in my pictures. Through my frequent travels over the past few years, I was also heavily exposed to different cultures, countries and people. My work trips to Latin America, my family-related trips back to Europe or my fun trips throughout the US – they always offered a great exposure to the "new and unknown”. I have therefore made it my self-imposed obligation to artistically showcase the beauty that I’m exposed to during my travels around the world. With each picture, I try to tell a story. In the words of a dear friend, my calling is to do world culture storytelling through photo sharing.