This weekend I’ve gone through about ten years of photos in search of material for Beauty in Buildings. It’s a cool feeling that even before Instagram existed or I even realized that I love learning about, appreciating, and photographing buildings, I was traveling to new cities and snapping shots of buildings! I found a goldmine of building photos in my old hard drive that I took from 2005 – 2014, from New Orleans to Amsterdam to Port-au-Prince.
In September 2012 I was still living in Brussels, and my ex-boyfriend and I decided to take a little weekend getaway to Cologne, Germany, which is just a short train ride away. Colm studied photography and is a graphic designer, and he’d very proudly purchased an old black-white-camera (I can’t remember the make or style) off of Ebay for one Euro. I brought my digital camera, and enjoyed walking around Cologne on Saturday taking photographs of the different neighborhoods and buildings we walked by.
I’ve been to two cities in Germany – Cologne and Berlin – and both times I was very taken aback at the look and feel of these cities. I’m American, and I’m always anticipating European cities to be a combination of antique, cute, and quaint, even the big cities. I arrived in Berlin and was shocked to be reminded of New York City – there were big wide avenues, lots of big modern buildings, and tons of Dunkin Donuts.
I’d done some research on what to do in Cologne, and Google flooded me with images of the Hollhenzollern Bridge and the Cologne Cathedral, both beautiful, ancient (the Cathedral being epically old, opening it’s doors in 1322. 1322!!!) structures in the city. But if the camera zoomed out to show the rest of the city that surrounds the church and bridge, you’d be shocked at how modern and new the rest of Cologne is! Lots of tall, boxy buildings undoubtedly built in the second half of the twentieth century. And that’s when it dawns on me the devastation that was left after Allied bombing campaigns during World War II. It’s pretty intense, and a miracle that those in charge did leave some of these buildings out of harms way, for history’s sake.
In my old hard drive I’ve got all my photos of colorful Cologne, and they lead right into the black and white photos that Colm sent me after the trip. The feel of the photos is so different! My photos came out vibrant and excited, while Colm’s were look thoughtful and serene. So much factors into how a photo comes out, to the feeling it invokes in the onlooker, and the message the photo sends – it takes me forever to choose a filter on Instagram or to finish editing a photo on my computer because the colors and lighting used can tell a completely different story from another, and sometimes I’m not sure which one I want to tell.
We actually took quite a few of almost the same shot a few times, as you’ll see below.