Last week, STB founder Paul Sullivan represented Berlin in a three-city live-stream photography exhibition. Here’s what happened…
A few weeks ago I was approached by Sony UK to take part in an experiment.
To promote the launch of their new NEX 5R - and specifically to show off its unique wireless capabilities - they wanted three photographers to spend a night shooting their respective cities (Berlin, Paris and London) and uploading the results live to a gallery in London.
The project sounded like too much fun to pass up, and last Thursday I found myself at Alexanderplatz, NEX 5R in hand, with a small team of film makers and helpers ready to photograph whatever we found over the next few hours.
The brief we received before the shoot was entitled City of Light and instructed us to capture something of the nocturnal vibrancy of our cities. In actual fact, Berlin isn’t a brilliantly illuminated city at night, especially when compared to the neon thrills of London and Paris, not to mention Tokyo or New York.
But we ascended the TV Tower anyway, and checked out the revolving (and recently refurbished) restaurant and bar, marvelling at how many people were still bundling in the lift to see the non-views. (Our host informed us that if you buy a ticket and don’t get to see anything due to weather, you can get it re-issued for a clearer day).
Deciding it was only right to carry out a Berlin photography project on bikes, we rented some slick vintage wheels from our friends at Finding Berlin Tours, and scooted around Mitte — Alexanderplatz, Munzstrasse, Rosa Luxemburg Platz, Rosenthaler Platz – seeing what we could find.
The city is brimming with events most nights as well as the general commuter traffic around Alexanderplatz U/S Bahn and the obligatory street-lit graffitied tunnels and popular Photoautomat machines.
We stumbled across a film screening of Cloud Atlas (filmed in Berlin of course) at Kino Babylon, some energetic rawk and tisch-tennis in Schokoladen, the usual hipster crowds at St. Oberholz and CCCP bar…and I couldn’t resist popping into one of my favourite little time-warp bars in the area, Doris, which is always full of friendly locals including the eponymous owner herself.
While I don’t ordinarily use Sony equipment, and the NEX 5R isn’t aimed at the pro market, it handled pretty well in the low light situations. Some of the many lenses it can come with – especially the fast 1.4 and 2.8 lenses – are especially good and sharp, there are bunches of creative functions to play with (black and white, increased saturation) and of course the wifi capability makes it especially good for immediate sharing of images.
It was exciting knowing that the shots we took were being uploaded to screens in a London gallery. We had no idea how this end of things were looking of course, though thanks to the video below we can now see how well everything came together.
All in all, a piece of clever marketing from Sony, but also a great opportunity to head out and shoot spontaneously, show the world some little slices of Berlin life and present three very different but great cities side by side.
It also ties in with the Slow Travel Berlin philosophy in the sense that the brief allowed for personal interpretation – no demands for big or specific sights meant I could create an “unfiltered” visual stream of the city, showing it just as it is on a regular day of the week.
Special thanks to 111 Little Films for the great video and top peeps Lara Merrington and Max Keily for their help on the night. You can check out more of the Berlin images here, and the Paris and London galleries here and here.