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Two years after the pandemic struck, what can still be said that has not already been said, both in words and images? Nothing much, really. Empty streets, the sound of birds in empty skies, tourists locked on boats erring around in far-flung seas, deserted airports - we have seen or heard it all. 

It took me a while to get to grips with the photos I have taken in this period. I was not happy with them, nor was I happy with the situation. As everyone else, I was stuck at home most of the time, with the occasional walk around the block in the dystopian world that greeted us outside. 

And yet, there was a moment there that allowed us to take a deep breath, figuratively not literally, to inspect ourselves and our lives. These lives, they could have been artificially shortened thanks to the virus, and suddenly all the relationships we entertained with friends and family had to be put on hold, given some distance, and inspected. Were there pandemic deniers among them? Secret worshippers of hydroxychloroquine? Closet conspiracy theorists? Or just born homebodies like us? 

In the end, we could only stay sane by focusing on ourselves and our immediate environment. As a photographer, my flat suddenly became my studio, and once all the still lives and family portraits were out of the way, a mysterious new way of finding expression slowly emerged…


Notes from trip report

Tehran-Orumiyeh, 4-7/5/2009

Field visit to Rural Child Care Centres and Nutritional Care Centres in villages around the towns of Shahindezh and Takab to familiarize myself with UNICEF Iran projects, speak to stakeholders and take photographs; support Goodwill Ambassador to give her direct experience with UNICEF Iran’s field work.

We visited four Rural Child Care Centres and one Nutritional Care
Centre, together with several officials from State Welfare Organisation
and Ministry of Health who introduced UNICEF-related activities in the
province to our delegation. We introduced UNICEF Iran’s Goodwill
Ambassador to stakeholders and the children beneficiaries in the Centres visited.

Personal notes:

The villages we visited are located around Lake Orumiyeh, one of the world’s largest landlocked salt lakes. However, Lake Orumiyeh is shrinking, which has devastating consequences for the wildlife and the people living in the area. We visited the area with UNICEF Iran’s Goodwill Ambassador, actress Mahtab Keramati. The children in the kindergartens we saw, were dressed up to the nines, in their best holiday regalia. Many were quite nervous about our visit, but after a few hours with them, they soon became used to our presence. 

We interviewed the staff, Mahtab played with them, and I took their portraits. Twelve years later, they must be young adults now and perhaps are able to see their images here. We tried to send them prints of their portraits but the area is far off the beaten track and UNICEF could not mount a second visit to the area, since already the first was fraught with considerable administrative hurdles. It was a memorable trip, not only because of the people we met but also because of the amazing landscape of the region, which I will show in a different series.


I don’t do fashion shoots. That is, unless a friend asks me, and in this case a friend asked me. Catherine wanted to have her NILI slow thread brand show-cased for her website. At the time, NILI worked with women in Iran, who wove, sewed and knitted according to Catherine’s fashion ideas. NILI was created as a fair-trade project, to help Iranian handicraft producers and women all over the country sell their products in-country and abroad. 

Since NILI was a startup, our models were also our friends and family members. There was Catherine herself, our friend Petra, as well as Georgina and Madelene from the Nitzsche clan. The images were not meant to sell product but rather to convey the breadth of materials that were used and what could be done with the finished items. Here, however, I only include images that show both - the potential users as well as the product. After all, it was a family project, in the true sense of the word.


When Eva Yerbabuena comes to town to perform her famed flamenco dances, one can’t stay at home. She came to Vienna at the beginning of 2007 and she was my assignment. The photographs were destined to be used for a monthly magazine and one made it to the front page. Later in 2007, Yerbabuena was awarded the “Medalla de Andalucía”.

Yerbabuena, born as Eva María Garrido García in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, grew up near Granada, Spain. She starting dancing at the age of 11 and became a professional at the age of 15. 

Her moves were mesmerizing. One never knew when the dance would end. She interspersed the very well known energetic dance moves with many slow moments, during which she only used her hands and arms to express her emotions. From the first moment, she was one with the music and the movement. It was a challenge to photograph her because her rapid moves were often too fast for my equipment, while the slow ones did not always express enough energy, even though the tension in her body was tangible in the room. 

I decided that I did not only want to show her various positions, which reflect quite well-known flamenco routines, but also her movement. Long exposures turned the fluidity of her body movements nearly into abstract sculptures. The stage light brought a mixture of warmth and eeriness to these shots. The performance last a little over an hour but it took much longer for the energy generated by the artists to drain from the audience, including myself.


A late-season visit to Guernsey in 2005 yielded these images. The island, not formally part of Great Britain, has its own currency, language and feeling. Located not too far off the French coast in the channel (La Manche - The Sleeve), it has a southerly feel and is dominated by sandy beaches, rock formations, WW II bunkers, and holiday homes. 

But it is the sky that got me most. There was no end to it. It stretched like the sand in front of you forever into a blue that was hard to catch, and sometimes felt more real in black and white than in colour. The bays and sandy stretches of coastline felt like appendices to the sky itself, which hardly ever seemed to be just blue. There is wind, as everywhere on the coast, and the clouds are being swept in an ever-changing ballet across the horizon.

Guernsey is better off-season. There are not enough empty spots on the small island for all the tourists that in normal years descend on the place, and much of the charm disappears in the busy summers. When autumn approaches, only the pensioners from the mainland or Britain remain, and the coastline suddenly comes back into its own.

The photographs were taken on 35 mm colour slide and black and white film. The inspiration to construct them as triptychs and diptychs stems from Nadav Kandar’s “Dark Line - The Thames Estuary” series. Organizing the images in these forms gives them back the feeling of endlessness that one experiences in reality - the sky merging with the ocean, with the beaches.

About the postcards

There are different ways of telling a story. For a long time, postcards were the carrier of so many of those stories, sent by people on holiday to their loved ones, or for special occasions, or simply because they felt like writing. These postcards are just like that - not for any special purpose but to tell a brief story about a place or an occasion, something that I remember or have found in my archives. The images are meant to be read in context to each other - and I mean, read. They contain the story just as the text does. Some are from the past, some from the present. They will all also exist in print, eventually - compiled in the fabulous Hahnemühle Photo Card boxes. If you are interested, please subscribe here.

About these letters

This is not a blog. It is a compilation of letters from various places around the world, meant to complement the photographs on this site whenever there is a story attached to them that requires some explanatory words. Some letters may be quite long, or part of a series. Others may be more succinct. Many may comprise images, but not necessarily every one. None of the letters will be published according to some marketing-dictated rhythm or inner logic connected to real-life events (many relate to images I found in my archive). They are not to be understood as some sort of “newsletter” or “update by the photographer”. Rather, they reflect my wish to find different ways to tell a story - sometimes as a visual essay, sometimes in the short form of a postcard, and sometimes - as in this series - in the longer form of a letter. If you are interested, please subscribe to them here.

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