Back to Zollverein
Sometimes I find it hard to get the motivation to shoot. It’s not that I don’t like it anymore. But when day job and family life eat up your time and energy, I am not overly fond of searching out new locations and taking on the risk of spending the afternoon or evening without finding anything special. In such times it takes the reward of success to get and keep me going. On those days, I tend to revisit locations I already know to see if I can find any new angles and situations there. Having a world heritage site like the Zollvervein Industrial Complex in Essen, Germany, in your neighborhood comes in handy then. So I decided to meet my colleague and photo buddy Frank there and see what we could see. Here are some of the results.
Culture meets industry
“The term composition means “putting together”. It can be thought of as the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art. Composition can apply to any work of art, from music through writing and into photography, that is arranged using conscious thought.
In the visual arts, composition is often used interchangeably with various terms such as design, form, visual ordering, or formal structure, depending on the context.”(Wikipedia)
This definition of the term composition may be more general in this definition from Wikipedia, but from what I got to read about composition in photography over the years usually means choosing what is positioned where in the frame. It implies choosing what to include in and what to exclude from the frame. There is nothing wrong with this approach. However, I find it a little limited when it comes to photography. In contrast to painting, where the artist is free to choose what to place in the picture, in photography you often have to live with what you find. Therefore, in photography, composition involves not only deciding what I want to place in the picture but also how to place unwanted elements that I cannot remove from the picture as effectively as possible or at least with as little disturbance as possible. The pictures below are my take on this train of thought. For example, I couldn’t exclude the walls in the foreground from the image, so I used them to frame the subject.
The next image clearly focuses on the sign that is hanging on the wall. I chose an angle that not only allowed me to show as much of it unobscured by the surrounding buildings but also used the lines created by them to lead the eye right where it is intended to go. On top of that, the industrial buildings convey the notion of housing cultural events in old industrial buildings which is exactly what the concept of the Zollverein Industrial Complex is all about in the first place. Hence, these buildings are vital part of the story in both images below.
Nothing too fancy in the next two images. Photographing open windows from below or parts of walls like this is just one of my photographic obsessions that I discussed in my previous blog post. It’s the way it is: If you have a spleen, you have to let it out.
Nature taking over
I see the green earth covered with the works of man or with the ruins of men’s work.(Selma Lagerlöf)
The next three images tell the well-known story of nature slowly taking over the decaying remnants of the world of men. Suitable images are easy to find in a place like the Zollverein Industrial Complex, which almost exclusively consists of old industrial buildings.
The last three photos don’t have an overarching theme. They just stimulated my curiosity and made me want to find out if they would work as a photograph. The fact that I included them here indicates that I think they do. Your mileage may vary.