„Let’s go shoot some architecture,“ said my photo buddy Achim. So I suggested we could go to one of the most iconic architectural locations in the Ruhr area (Germany), the ThyssenKrupp headquarters. But I had no idea that we would find the place in a unique condition, enabling us to get some very rare photos from a place that has been photographed over and over again already.
I had never met Achim Meurer in person before, but I had had a few conversations over at The Arcanum before, including a video chat on Google Hangout, so I knew we would get along well. Achim has been an accomplished and inspired photographer for decades, so I had all reason to look forward to a pleasant and inspiring photo walk.
The headquarters of the steel company ThyssenKrupp is undoubtedly one of the most iconic places in the Ruhr area in Germany, so it was an obvious location for the photo walk. Built from 2007 to 2010 and being the result of an open architectural competition, it doesn’t only feature an exciting and groundbreaking main building. The architects have designed the whole site around with all its side buildings and even a set of basins (and paths crossing them) which lead towards the main building. So it is no wonder that many of the photos you can find of this place on the web feature not only interesting buildings but also equally interesting reflections.
When we arrived there, however, we found the basins almost empty with only a couple of puddles remaining. As we found out later, they had let out the water so that they could renew the pools’ sealing. With so many photos from this location showing perfect reflections out there already, we were looking forward to grabbing some frames that could possibly stand out from the crowd.
Thyssen HQ Main Building
Not only because it is situated at the center of the site, but also because of its iconic appearance, the main building is the very heart of the location. Shaped like a giant cube with a large hole in it to see through, it defines the memory the visitor will have from this place more than anything else. The other buildings are comparatively unspectacular so that there is nothing much to be remembered about them. But they and the set of basins are arranged in a way that immediately leads the visitors (and their eyes) to the main building. All the paths along the buildings and across the basins create lines which end up at this one destination. With photographers being so concerned about lines in their compositions, it is no wonder that almost every photo from this location features the main building.
Check out this collection of photos of this building taken Achim and me. I will always find it fascinating how even with the reduced set of tools in black & white photography (no colors!) two photographers still can come up with recognizably different pictures of the same location or subject in the end.
As I said before, the side adjoining buildings are much less spectacular than the main building. However, with the reflection from the basins they can still serve as interesting subject matter. As always, throwing a neutral density filter into the mix can increase the interestingness of the photos even further. Here’s what we came up with.
If you have followed my work for some time, you might now that I like to experiment from time to time, either in the field by trying unusual framings and angles, or in post-processing by using various (and often heavy) apps and techniques. Usually, these efforts end up with the resulting image being abstract and very far away from the taste of the mainstream. Even though many people do not like these pictures, I still enjoy creating them immensely, because I can be much more creative than when I create a standard postcard style and quality photographs. So, please hold that thought when you look at the following pictures.
The ThyssenKrupp Headquarters is a fascinating location at the heart of the Ruhr area in Germany. With its clear layout and the iconic main building, you will get away with some classic photographs. The site will also give you ample opportunity for experimentation, too. There is always some new angle nobody else has found before. And if you are lucky, you may find yourself documenting unusual situations as we did with the almost empty basins.
We were also accompanied by my colleague and photo buddy Frank Henkemeyer who was traveling when I wrote this so I couldn’t ask him for permission to use some of his pictures in this post. I highly recommend you to check out his interesting photos over on FlickR though.