Düsseldorf is the main center of photography in the northwestern part of Germany, but that doesn’t mean no one in Cologne knows how to use a camera. There are loads of exhibitions at galleries and museums around town, and every September the city hosts Photokina, the leading trade fair for photo and video. In the meantime, check out these seven Cologne-based photographers.
After studying in Cologne from 1964–1968, photographer Candida Höfer got a job taking portraits for a newspaper. She was one of the first German photographers to use color film, and became famous for her large format images of empty public spaces such as banks, offices and waiting rooms. One of her later series consists of images of the Louvre Museum without any humans in sight.
Cologne-based photographer Heinz Held (1918–1990) met and worked with Henri Cartier-Bresson several times, mainly photographing exhibitions of Cartier-Bresson’s work. They shared a similar approach – small camera, walking around incognito and waiting for the unexpected moment. Held’s archive is now part of the permanent collection at Museum Ludwig, right next to the Dom in Cologne.
Part of the Düsseldorf School, Andreas Gursky’s 1999 image “Rhein II” sold for $4.3 million, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold – a record that still stands today. To be fair, it is massive, at 75×142 inches (190x360cm), but then $404 per square inch is almost a bargain. Gursky, who now lives in Cologne, is best known for his images of manmade spaces, like façades, supermarkets, hotel lobbies, and stock exchanges.
Fashion or perfection don’t interest photographer Michael Horbach. Instead he concentrates on discovering naturalness and authenticity in his portraits. Influenced heavily by photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Horbach seeks to capture those qualities in his photographs. Years of success in business has enabled him to own a gallery where he exhibits the work of young and emerging photographers.
Heavily involved in the street photography scene in Cologne and around the world, Sven Hoffman’s work has appeared in Vogue, as well as various exhibitions around Germany. Much of his work incorporates reflections (sometimes two or three times), fuzziness around the edges, and a strange affinity for portrait orientation. You can see some of his portfolio here.
New on the Cologne photography scene is Polish-Canadian photographer Karol Osuchowski. His closely-cropped shots of street racers and other automobile classics are full of intense color and strong lines – in your face in the best possible way. Follow Osuchowski on Instagram.
Cologne photographer Stefan Schilling moved to the Ehrenfeld neighborhood in 1992 with his wife, about 20 years before it was cool. Schilling earns a living photographing buildings and places for architects, agencies and companies. What makes his work special is the tendency to add something sensual to all the angles and concrete. Check out his portfolio here.