Neo Noir is a Beautiful, Dark Ode to Noir Culture

r_street+photography+marius+vieth (5)

All images by Marius Vieth. Used with permission

Photographer Marius Vieth is a 26 year old German fine art photographer with a focus on street photography. He travels around the world and is a multi-award winning photographer who on the site is writing a book about street photography, finding your creative soul and how to live as an artist.

“My art revolves around the human element in an urban world. In the heart of the city hustle from New York to Seoul I give unique everyday characters the stage they deserve. Sometimes in poetic infatuation or deep admiration, sometimes in mystic surrealism.” Marius tells the Phoblographer. “Whether in vivid colors or distinct black and white, all art works unites a clear, distinctive style: gentle, bold and intense.”

So when we stumbled upon his Neo Noir photo series, we were very amazed. Inspired by the Film Noir world and the many movies that he’s seen, Marius talked to us about Neo Noir.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

r_street+photography+marius+vieth (1)

Marius: I was looking for my creative outlet all my life and I’ve tried so many different things to express myself, but nothing really worked. I just couldn’t break my chains. To be honest, I was really desperate at the end. My dear friend Felix bought a camera back then and had lots of fun with it. After getting familiar with it, I fell in love with the idea of taking photos of something that fascinates me. I then bought my first cam in 2011 to take some vacation photos and see what this photography world might have to offer…

What keeps me going is that photography enables me to express myself in ways I’ve never felt before and it’s my safe harbor as well as my infinite playground. A couple of days ago I was in a really bad mood, but as soon as I grabbed my cam, walked trough the snow and took some shots, I was happy like a little child. Picasso once said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”. When I’m taking street photos I’m seeing the world through the eyes of a child and that makes me happier than everything else. I wouldn’t give that up for the world!

Phoblographer: What made you get into shooting street photos?

r_street+photography+marius+vieth (2)

Marius: After two years of taking photos I just couldn’t find anything I truly was passionate about. To be honest, I was about to give up photography at one point, because I couldn’t even take portraits and I still can’t. I thought that photography maybe isn’t meant for me if I can’t even find pleasure in one of the most popular fields of photography. On the verge of quitting I decided to give it one more try with something bigger than I’ve ever done: a 365 project, which changed everything for me. At first I took photos of everything I could find in the city ranging from architecture to streets. It was great that way, but after a while I lacked the fuel that kept my machine running. I didn’t really have a driving force behind my work.

The one thing that fascinated me more than anything else during my photo walks, however, was how incredibly atmospheric everyday life on the streets could be. Sure, it felt weird at first to take photos of random strangers, but capturing real moments instead of set up shots immediately mesmerised me. Since I was young I always loved to look around in cities and just observe people walking around. I always thought something was slightly off with me, because it didn’t really make sense back then. I’m so happy that I finally found a way to turn this weirdness into something beautiful for me and others.

Phoblographer: Neo Noir is about unknown people walking through a foggy city. Where did the inspiration for the series and the look come from?

r_street+photography+marius+vieth (3)

Marius: I’m a huge movie fan. I’ve watched thousands of movies from the 1920’s till now and one of the genres that really stuck out for me was film noir. The combination of an exciting, heart-stopping storyline with a unique black and white cinematography is just one of a kind. I always wanted to create a film noir set, but one night it was so incredibly foggy in Düsseldorf that I went out shooting all night. I used every single minute I could get during that night and completed the whole set within hours. I tried to create a noir look later, but I didn’t really feel it. Then I twisted and turned the sliders a little bit and came up with this more modern interpretation of film noir: neo noir.

Phoblographer: How did you develop the specific look of the images?

r_street+photography+marius+vieth (4)

Marius: It’s actually pretty simple. It’s merely changing the photo into black and white with split-toning in Lightroom. Split-toning is rather difficult however to nail. Because it either sucks or it takes your photo to the next level. It always depends on your feeling for colors and whether you understand why a photo is meant for that and why not. But hey, I’m colorblind! Then I danced a little tango with the rest of the sliders till I felt it. That’s it.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you used.

Marius: Back then I still had my EF 35mm 2.0. As for the cam I used my used 5D Mark II which I’ve been using for years now. By the way, that’s all I own: one lens and one body. I call this philosophy “Gear Avoidance Syndrome“. The less gear you own, the more your technical options turn into creative solutions. Try it, it works!

r_street+photography+marius+vieth (6)

Phoblographer: Projects like this are always tough to finish, so how did you stay motivated to find location after location for each scene that you captured?

Marius: Since it was only one night for most of the shots, motivation was sky high. I was running through the whole city like a child in a toy store. I love the night, fog, walking and listening to music. That one night was pure meditation for me. The rest of the shots I took during my 365 project, which was a whole lot of fun as well.

“The less gear you own, the more your technical options turn into creative solutions. Try it, it works!”

Phoblographer: Noir films usually look much different than these and are typically much more black and white. What specifically inspired the look of these images?

Marius: Since the black and white look worked for this set, but didn’t blow me away, I decided to visually re-interpret the genre with my own style. The combination of modern day characters with smart phones and BMX’s, the shady dark atmosphere of the old noir look and the modern color grading turn the old noir into neo noir for me.

r_street+photography+marius+vieth (7)


r_street+photography+marius+vieth (9)

r_street+photography+marius+vieth (8)

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.