Sebastian Jacobitz Captures the Faces of Berlin’s Famed Shopping Street

Images and words by Sebastian Jacobitz. Used with permission.

I am Sebastian Jacobitz, a street photographer from Berlin and member of the collective Berlin1020. Since 2015, street photography has been a passion of mine and I love wandering through the city, capturing the beautiful moments of this city. For my usual stroll, I use the Fuji X100F or the Ricoh GR II and an off-camera flash. With this setup, I get really close to people to provoke their emotions and get the viewer close to the scene.

Why did you get into photography?

I started street photography in 2015 to overcome some health issues. On my walks, I took the camera with me and soon discovered how fun and challenging photographing on the street can be. The challenging part got me hooked and since then I try to become better every day.

What photographers are your biggest influences?

Classic stories from Gordon Parks or Sebastiao Salgado are my biggest influences when it comes to documentary photography and building a story.

For the street, my influences are Bruce Gilden, Markus Andersen, Tatsuo Suzuki or Dougie Wallace.

How long have you been shooting?

My first camera was a Canon Rebel I got in late 2014. I started photography in early 2015 and have been hooked since then.

Why is photography and shooting so important to you?

Photography is a way to express myself and let out my emotions. Anger, happiness, or simply boredom can be shown with the help of photography and keep me sane.

It is also a creative outlet where I can challenge myself and show other people what they are missing. The beauty of street photography is that the stage is the same for everyone and I as a photographer try to capture those little precious moments.

Do you feel that you’re more of a creator or a documenter? Why?

I only use what is already there. I don’t alter the scene or “create” something new. In a way I am documenting the life on the street, but only a few are able to see what I am witnessing or make the same connections.

What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically?

Street photography is a very fast genre. Nowadays, I don’t think too much. The framing should be close enough to not be chaotic, the background shouldn’t be too distracting as well. Then the subject should be interesting and show emotions.

Mechanically, not much is going on. I usually pre-focus and just snap away.

Want to walk us through your processing techniques?

The post-processing should be as minimal as possible. Mostly, I use Black & White filter from the NIK collection and increase the contrast and clarity a bit. Other than that, the picture is unaltered.

Tell us about the project that you’re pitching, or your portfolio.

The Berlin Ku’Damm is the most prominent shopping street in Berlin. Normally, the street is filled with people looking for the newest dresses or cellphones. But when the sun leaves the scene, another characteristic is visible. Almost like a blurry dream, the series displays another side of the street.

Creating those scenes with a flash and a longer shutter speed, the characters of the people become a different twist.

Unimpressive, mundane, and usual at day. Extraordinary, gritty, and wild at night. This is Berlin in a photography series.

What made you want to get into your genre?

I like the genuine character of this genre. Street photography is not artificial, it shows real emotions. The stories that you see here, are written by life itself and not the photographer.

Also, I see street photography as one of the most difficult genres. There is no second chance and one has to think very quickly. Mastering this genre takes decades and I like the progress that I see every year.

Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision.

I use a Fuji X100F and the Ricoh GR II together with a simple off-camera flash. With this setup, I can be quick and don’t look like a professional photographer which lets me get closer to people without them noticing me too early. This way I can get close but still get candid photos.

What motivates you to shoot?

When I go out on the street, I never know what will happen. Often times there is not really anything special happening. But then there are these moments that maybe happen a dozen times in a year, that makes all the effort worth. Where everything comes together and the image tells a story to me.

Visit Sebastian Jacobitz’s website to see more of his work.