Berlin: The Photographs of Samuel Zeller

The Photographer Seduced By The City Of Berlin, Its Architecture and Its People

Mesmerised by the striking aura of Berlin’s architecture, Swiss photographer Samuel Zeller has stunned us with his new series. Having studied Graphic Design & Interactive media design at the CFPAA in Geneva, Samuel’s passion for photography became an area where he could find beauty in even the coldest environments. Such an approach is blended into his Berlin series with a large touch of romance.

This romance he harbours for Berlin is evident in his photographs. No one else would follow the city’s lines, corners and shadows with such fervour and lust and put them across with such dignified composition. And yet, this one is a love story tinged with the sorrows of heartbreak. He was struck by how his images clashed with his romantic memories: “Out of all the images I shot, the ones I selected are a bit cold. There’s nobody smiling or laughing,” he reflects. “It’s a completely different image of what I experienced there. I think I left the happy moments for my eyes and memory; sometimes I just enjoy and I don’t take pictures.”

Regardless, we’re glad he chose to perceive Berlin through the eye of his camera, a Fujifilm X-T1. Sometimes his composition of buildings sharply slice up the image, maintaining an air of heaviness and severity. “But for me,” he continues, “architecture is nothing without humans, and the people I met there are all really nice.” Thus, Samuel’s enticing look into Berlin’s urban landscape contains more than the sum of personal memories, and invites us all to take a look.

We caught up with the photographer to find out more:

The Plus: In Berlin there seems to be an almost equal mixture of architecture and people as the subjects of your images. What was the objective of these shoots?
Samuel Zeller:
For me, Berlin was a revelation. I immediately connected with the city. In term of architecture it’s really rich, there’s a good mix of modern and old, ghosts from the pasts and contemporary buildings. It’s one of the few cities in Europe where I’d like to live. I didn’t had a particular objective in mind but I wanted to give a very personal sense of the city.

TP: How do you compose your images?
I always think in two dimensions, even when I draw I almost never use perspective. Of course some of my images have perspective and depth but when I look through the viewfinder I consider all elements to be on the same plane. In my head I have ideas of what subjects I want, and how I want them. I compose with that.

TP: What inspired the Berlin series?
My love for architecture. It’s something that has evolved since childhood where I used to draw houses and castles. I even did sectional drawings sometimes, to explain how it all worked.
Another thing that struck me in Berlin are the people. I met so many interesting persons there with a variety of interesting lives and stories. I found that really inspiring.

TP: Was this your first time in Berlin?
Yes most of those images are from my first time in Berlin, only a few of them are from my second visit. I went there because of a girl I met. I always wanted to discover this city but I didn’t want to go alone. I spent one week taking pictures every day in various places that I couldn’t have discovered on my own, including climbing on rooftops at night and almost getting caught by a security guard. That was an awesome week, full of emotions. I fell in love with Berlin and with this girl…

A few weeks later she broke up with me, but she showed me Berlin like nobody else and I’m thankful for that.

TP: Out of all your images in this series, which one are you most proud of (and why)?
The guy facing the Berlin U-Bahn map. I’m proud of that one because I had to act really quickly, I was about to enter a wagon when I saw this guy standing and I immediately turned my camera on and took that shot, he then moved.

The lady walking between two columns of the Neues Museum on Bodestraße. I’m really happy of that one and how the composition works with the shadows, and the shape of the legs. I stood there waiting for someone to pass and I took only this shot.

TP: What’s next for you?
I have my first solo exhibition planned in Geneva, 19 to 29 May 2016. More information will be available soon on my website. I also want to continue working on my Botanical series of images. I’m thinking of going back to Berlin one day, early 2016 maybe.
I’m also interested in working for small brands or emerging designers. I’d love to shoot for a clothing brand for example, with models, make-up artists and good locations. I’d love to mix architecture and product design in one series of images.