I’m really pleased to share this interview with Joerg Nicht, a talented iPhone photographer from Berlin. Joerg predominantly shoots street photography, using his skills to capture cities and landscapes in motion. As well as documenting life in Berlin, he also travels frequently. In this interview, you’ll find out more about Joerg and how he uses his iPhone to capture interesting and spontaneous street scenes.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in Berlin where I work as a social scientist. This year I’ve travelled to Paris, Istanbul, Australia (East Cost and Uluru), Bologna, Zürich, Sicily and Marrakesh.
How did your iPhone photography journey begin?
When I bought my first iPhone I was thrilled by the quality of the images and the possibilities for editing my pictures. I thus had a camera that was always with me. And from the very beginning I was fascinated by the thought of taking pictures spontaneously and in motion.
What inspires you to take photos with the iPhone?
One of the first pictures I took with the iPhone shows a pigeon which is flying away. The pigeon is still in focus while the background is blurred because of the movement. Till this day this is one of my favorite pictures.
I like the iPhone because it’s so fast and it’s always with me. I can immediately capture something interesting without having to bother to unpack a larger camera.
Do you have a preferred photography genre, or do you like to experiment and try new things?
I like to spend time in the street and at crossroads, watching what’s going on. I’m interested in the ways cities function, the traffic, the city as a public space and market place. That’s why I’m interested in street photography.
But one of my principles is also to explore new things: to search for new locations, try out new technical possibilities (cameras, filters, etc.) and also to explore new genres.
You describe your street photography in Berlin as “impressions of a city in motion.” What are you trying to show through your photography?
Berlin has changed very much over the past 25 years, and I’m interested in this process of change. But Berlin is also a fast city, and I’m interested in capturing this speed.
Do you spend a lot of time planning your shots or do you just capture a fleeting moment as you come across it?
Both. I go to places intentionally, but I also always look out for interesting things during my daily movements through the city.
One of the main challenges with street photography is photographing people you don’t know. How do you deal with this?
While traveling I learned that people’s reactions to being photographed vary. In Sicily people like to pose for the camera – they enter into a relationship with the camera and photographer. In Marrakesh people mostly didn’t like to be photographed. I respect that.
On my Instagram account I don’t show all my photos because some are too intimate or I have the feeling that people are not represented dignified enough in my picture.
Let’s talk about photo apps. Are there any apps that you use for taking photos besides the native camera app?
What are your favorite apps for post-processing?
Do you use any iPhone photography accessories? Would you recommend that people buy them?
I would certainly recommend the use of a tripod to keep the camera steady.
Can you briefly explain the story and editing behind your three favorite iPhone photos?
The picture is more than four years old. I took it with my iPhone 4, which I had received the day before. It’s not manipulated in any way – I used the Hipstamatic app to shoot the photo.
This picture of the Berlin Tiergarten which was taken from the Siegessäule is part of a series. I took the idea from Bex who had taken a picture from there two days earlier.
I hadn’t thought of this subject before. Bex showed something typical: the wide streets with the aisle that leaves a view. When editing the photo one needs to take care that a bit of the roundabout remains visible. That is why my picture is slightly distorted.
Shadows can be captured very well with the iPhone. It was a morning in November, the sun was shining at a low angle and appeared quite mild – ideal conditions for a picture of shadows.
After I took the picture I used a VSCO filter, in this case a B&W Filter X5 and increased the brightness. And then I rotated the picture by 180 degrees and cropped it into a square.
Street photography is all about storytelling. What tips would you give to aspiring street photographers who want to be able to tell a powerful story with their photos?
The important thing for me is to decide every day what is important to me on that day. My pictures must have something to do with me and the way I see the world.
You have a huge following on Instagram, with nearly 400,000 followers. What does the Instagram community mean to you, and what effect has it had on your iPhone photography?
Through Instagram and the feedback by the community, I have changed my way of taking pictures. Some Instagrammers tell me I’m one of their guides in photography. I consider this an honour but also take this as a mandate to constantly improve my photography and develop new ideas.
Do you shoot with any other cameras, and if so, when do you prefer to use the iPhone?
I have a digital full frame camera and a smaller Micro-Four-Thirds camera. These days I use the Micro-Four-Thirds the most – it’s light, fast and flexible. It’s an ideal camera for traveling.
I use both cameras when I need certain features to create a picture or when I need to achieve better quality images than I can get with the iPhone. I use the iPhone when I’m in a rush or when I want to create Puddlegrams (reflections in puddles).
Which iPhone photographers do you admire the most?
Where can we see your iPhone photography?