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March 17, 2020


Photography by Rouven Kurz
Interview by Melanie Meggs

As one wanders through the chaotic hustle and bustle of an urban metropolis, it can be difficult to make sense of the isolated individuals, the concrete structures, and the light and shadows that craft a unique atmosphere. For Rouven Kurz, a street photographer from Cologne, finding beauty amidst the chaos is an art form — one that he captures in dynamic black and white and vivid color photographs. With an eye for the unrepeatable moments when geometry, light, and random movements of strangers come together to form a harmonious composition, Rouven invites viewers to enter into his world of light and shadow and to imagine their own story.

“By accident, I won a digital compact camera with an astonishing five point one megapixels when I was a teenager back in the early 2000’s. After literally annoying everyone around me I developed a knack for framing geometries.”


THE PICTORIAL LIST: Rouven, where do you find your inspiration to create your photography?

ROUVEN KURZ: In my notebooks, where I collect everything that comes along my way. Being it interesting spots I’ve seen, pictures I love, thoughts that would fly away too fast, news that move me, movies with remarkable cinematography, snippets of discussions. My key is to groom this list over and over to refine ideas, strike items from that list, find connections between separate things.

TPL: Has your style of photographing changed since you first started out?

RK: Among others I can recall two major changes compared to my first thousand-something pictures. The first one is more a process where I get better and better to visualize the final image before I click the shutter. The second change was enforced by me in order to get the pictures I want. It was becoming less anxious to get closer to strangers in the streets.

TPL: Where is your favourite place(s) to photograph?

RK: My home turf...Cologne in Germany.

TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?

RK: Saul Leiter for his almost painterly use of colors. Paola Franqui-Monaris for her storytelling and superb color grading. Brandon Stanton for his impressive portrait of New York's folk. Sean Tucker for his inspiring content beyond ace photography. Alan Schaller for his bold minimalism.

TPL: Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?

RK: Equipment is a tool that helps you get there. While this sounds incidental, the right equipment is of great importance for me. The more natural it feels in your hands, the more you can focus on what’s in your mind and in front of your lens. My tip for starters is to spend more budget on photo books, prints, exhibitions and workshops than on the camera. If you engage deeply in photography and develop your own vision and train your photographic muscle, you will find the right equipment eventually. The tools will help you realize your vision, they will not create your vision.

Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies. - Diane Arbus

TPL: What characteristics do you think you need to become a better photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?

RK: Curiosity, if I have to name one.

When doing portraits you should work more with your model than with your camera. What makes this person special? What do you and your model want to portrait?

In street photography you should curious about the people and your surroundings. The street always delivers. It’s up to your mind what you’re going to discover.

TPL: Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?

RK: Nay, I’m pretty untalented in other art forms.

TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?

RK: I am still so excited about the birthday present my wife gave me. She has organized a gallery that will exhibit my work this summer.

TPL: "If I wasn’t photographing what would I be doing?...

RK: I would see the world differently, I wouldn't recognize all the beauty and peculiarities in the ordinaries."

Rouven's photography is a unique and captivating form of art. He is able to capture reality but also abstract, interpret, and transform it. He experiments with colors and textures to create vivid and expressive images. To take your appreciation for Rouven's photography to the next level, follow him through the links below and explore his world of art.

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