Jürgen Bürgin is a fantastic photographer. A prolific image maker with an established base of fans and followers. His motivation to continuously shoot, binded with an intelligent sense of timing, an interesting approach to composition and a sensitivity to photography as a true artform has resulted in a rapidly expanding, prolific portfolio of imagery. T-SQUAT’s James Watkins asked Jurgen a few questions about what makes him tick and his shutter click, as an active photographer shooting through cities around the world including Berlin, Paris and New York.
Can you please tell us about yourself, where you live, what you do and what photography means to you?
My name is Jürgen Bürgin and I’m living in Berlin, Germany, where I’m working in the movie business. Photography is a passion for me and it’s a great way for me to be creative and to get in touch with other people around the world who are creative, or are interested in the arts and photography.
Yes, that’s right. It’s like cutting out a small slice of time of every day’s stream of time and stream of actions. Taking a little part of all those millions of untold and unobserved stories. And what I’m trying to do then is to allow the audience to become a part of the creative process. I’m a storyteller, but stories are taking place in time, they need duration, they need a period of time. That’s usually not possible with one photograph. So I’m using a trick. I try to find moments that suggest a continuation of this moment, actions that are not accomplished – or moments that have a pre-story. And now the viewer of my photographs is becoming part of the game: as they realise that I’m showing them a part of story – but only a part, not a complete story – they allows their urge to experience complete stories, to get answers, to solve secrets, to be fulfilled. Their creativity starts working and they, the viewer, is telling the story that I have begun – to an end, only in their fantasy usually. But I always encourage the viewers of my photos to tell us those stories on my Facebook photography page. I publish the photos and ask them: What’s the story of this photograph? What’s YOUR story of this photo… And sometimes it really works wonderfully and I receive dozens of totally different stories, often surprising, often leading into directions which I was never thinking about.
Street photographers often focus on the small details. Your photography utilises a more inclusive, wider approach to composition. Including the subjects in their environments, giving the images room to breathe and telling us more of a story. What draws you to this more holistic approach?
It’s not only time that characterizes a story, but also the place. Often you see one or two people in my photography, in some relation to a building or a place or whatever is around them. So again it’s that creativity game with my audience, as ideally he or she starts to ask him- or herself: What are this people doing there? Why are they there? Where did they come from and so on. And this way of taking street photographs is part of a favorite topic of my work: It’s about loneliness, solitude in urban places, and it’s also about incertitude.
Can you express the state of mind you fall into when you’re shooting on the street. What are you looking for? What is your approach?
Well you cannot really say that I go out, shooting on the street. I rarely go out with the intention to make some street photography. I simply do what I’m doing, walking through a city as a tourist, going to work, shopping, going to theatres, cinemas, exhibitions – I simply always have my camera with me. And well, it’s hard to say what I’m looking for – several things. I’m looking for interactions between people, expressions of love, expressions of friendship, maybe hate. Or I’m looking for people who are concentrated in doing something, or in explaining something to someone else. Or what is important for me: Where is someone looking at? Is he looking to the camera? Or to a dog? Or whatever, as the views create relations between people, and between people and things. And those relations can be the beginning of one of those mentioned untold stories.
What do you want your body of work to represent?
I think my photography is a game, or a role play, somewhere placed between arts and reality – with an artwork that ideally lures the viewer into a realm of untold stories. And what the viewer might discover by entering this realm, is a little bit about people and their relationships to each other, a little bit about arts and perception, a little bit about the world and how we see the world – but foremost I hope that the viewer learns a lot about himself.