How Martin Schumann Turned a No Into A Stunning Street Photography Project

By Guest Author - 4 min read

Today we get to highlight the outstanding photography project of The Collective Photographer, Martin Schumann. His project captures charm and chaos that makes Berlin what it is.

We get an intimate glimpse into everyday life in Berlin from photographer and illustrator Martin Schumann. Living and working in the German city, Martin has spent many years capturing unusual and intriguing stories.

It all began, he tells us, with a potential advertising job falling through. Martin was determined to take the project somewhere despite having the potential set-back. Today we share just a small section of the stunning collection of photographs along with Martin’s personal commentary on the project, and the city he calls home.

Berlin Life Captured Through a Collection of Single Moments

An advertising agency approached me with the intention of buying some of my pictures for a campaign about Berlin. They asked me to bring prints or some kind of a printed portfolio, but I had none of that at the time. So, I decided to pick some of my photos I had taken over the years that remind me most of Berlin. I brought them together and turned them into a zine.

Some time before this I had found two very old German magazines on a sidewalk – one was from 1936, the other from 1963 – called Berliner Illustrierte. I kept them not only because they were rare historical materials but I always wanted to use them in another context.

My photography, just like these magazines, document life in Berlin. Therefore I cut the ‘Berliner’ from the cover and used it for the front cover of my Berliner zine. Besides that, there wasn’t any other fancy editorial design work put into it. I finished it all within one or two days and went to show it to the agency.

“…with every picture I would be showing a little something of myself…”

A few days later they told me, there wasn’t any budget left for buying the rights for my pictures. Of course I was a bit disappointed, but I was also happy something had made me print this authentic collection of my work. After uploading the project on behance it gained some popularity and was featured here and there. But for me, the most rewarding thing for me was the realization that (some) people still care about a printed product instead of just skipping through Instagram stories. The fact that they value my point of view on the world, on Berlin.

At the time I released the zine, I had been dealing with street photography for three to four years. I first began thinking about what my view is and how I could sharpen it. Up until this point, I had been pointing my camera at everything that seemed a bit unusual. I always listened to music when taking photos and got bored quite easily. It took me a while to understand that with every picture I would be showing a little something of myself and how I feel about the subject in front of the camera.

At first I decided to remove all the distractions, like music, as it started to feel like I was increasing the distance between myself and the subject. It was only then that I really started to embrace and enjoy human interaction when I saw it in the streets, instead of being judgemental, or simply looking for an aesthetic value only.

I mean, I still like showing humor or weirdness in my photos because that’s who I am, but it ́s not about exposing or making fun of someone. Nowadays, my aim is to capture candid moments & situations that I feel good about and that are poetic to me.

Coming from a graphic design background, I prefer the picture to be geometrically clean and colour coordinated, but that can be a challenge itself. The main challenge for an introvert like me is to take pictures of strangers and sometimes to start a conversation before or after capturing the singular moment. It feels like I am leaving my comfort zone every time I take a photo and that’s what makes it so interesting. This is even more so the case in Berlin - a big city full of strangers.

To discover more of Martin’s work, make sure to follow along on his EyeEm profile.

Check out Martin’s website to keep up to date with his new projects and creative work. Take a look at his ‘100 Days of Illustration’ Project, Titus Skateboard Designs and other photogrphy projects.