I must’ve spent fifteen minutes trying to take this photo. Hovering by the edge of an abandoned construction site, one of these stretches of not quite downtown but not quite suburbs either where prolonged legal battles between different plot owners and the city council have turned property into no-man’s-land. You probably get this in America too.
Right behind me, you had your regular apartment blocs, those bland products of the feverish imagination of the communist bureaucrat. The inhabitants must’ve noticed me stalking their neighborhood. I say must’ve because I didn’t have the nerve to check behind me. You see, feeling creepy, awkward, and watched at the same time is too much to handle, even for a determined extrovert. But what could I do? It was well past ten, and the S-Bahn wasn’t coming that often. So I pulled out my soft pad and knelt on the curb, testing out different angles for when the train would finally show up. Then it did. Click-click-click-click. And I left, like a pervert and a creep, avoiding any eye contact with a guy walking his dog, maybe the first emissary of some larger delegation telling me to bugger off. Who can say?
Were this a different district of Berlin, one of the infamous ones like Neukölln or Kotti, I would have a different story to tell. My backpack, camera, watch, cellphone, and at least one of my kidneys would be posted on eBay in the time it took you to read this paragraph. Friedenau is pretty timid for Berlin.
Nighttime photography has its charms. It gets you out of your comfortable sofa and out, prowling the streets at an hour Batman dons his kevlar tights. Especially if your uni years are long past you and you’ve gotten used to the comfortable rhythm of your day job. That’s why I enjoy it so much.
Not that I go out night shooting every week. It takes a certain kind of mindset, a special kind of fuck it that has the strength to push back against the tug of my evening rituals, but when it happens, it’s something special. Minus the usual hot cocoa. You can’t have everything.
Enjoyed the read? Send this story to a friend.