BIOGRAPHY:

Thank you for visiting my website and looking at my work.  I think I owe you telling my life in my own words because it has been anything but an ordinary path.

I got my first camera when I was fifteen. I had never wished for it and really had no interest in photography.  But since I am a hands-on Capricorn, I thought: Now that I have got a camera, I might as well use it. I had no idea how to work that thing and it took me forever to figure out setting basics like aperture and time.

My first photos were the usual stuff: my sister on a swing, neighbour's cat on the stalk and too many good-for-nothing sunsets.

By the time I was seventeen I met somebody who was working at a stock photo agency. She liked my photographs (or maybe just me…) and picked some of my work for the agency. A few weeks later my first image was published in a magazine. I will never forget the photo: It was of a Japanese Kendo fighter demonstrating his skills in Germany.

And even better: I will never forget the feeling of looking at and - very important - touching my photograph being printed on real paper! That’s when I officially became a print-junkie. Believe me, I live a very digital life, but until today there is nothing like opening a book or magazine and looking at your own photos.

While I was still going to high school, I photographed as much as I could for the stock agency. More stuff was published and I enjoyed my sweet, little success - and that extra money coming in. I just continued doing so when I started studying law.

Law? Don’t worry, I only did it to calm my father down. Into my second year at university a romance ended, I was heartbroken and wanted to leave my hometown as quickly as possible. Photography was my way out. I was friends with Axel Springer jr., son of the famous German publisher, and he offered me a job at his news and photo agency Sven Simon in Bonn. All I wanted was being busy and I made sure of it: Portraying famous people, mostly politicians, during the day, printing and distributing the photos at night.

A year later my lover’s grief had passed and Bonn was becoming what it always had been: Pretty boring. I was just making up my mind to quit photography and to start studying in the USA when I received a telephone call from Hamburg. On the other end of the line was Rolf Gillhausen, famous chief editor and art director of the even more famous Stern magazine. Some of my photographs of the passed year had attracted his attention and he offered me a job as a staff photographer.

Seriously? Stern magazine? But at that time (1977) Stern was the best magazine in the world and the Olympus of photography. Of course I said yes. Bye bye USA, move over you other staff photographers, here I come, 21 years old.

Originally I wanted to stay on for three years, instead I stayed nine.  Nine wonderful, wild, exhausting, adrenalizing years. I travelled all over the world, only to come home, say “hello” and do my laundry. Social life: Zero. Thrills: 100%. 

Over the first few years I photographed classic reportages. Anything from wars to driving with a "Road Train Truck" through Australia’s desert. Later on  I moved into the field of design and fashion photography and photographed a lot of Stern-covers (16 in one year was my record). During my time at the magazine I experienced it all: I was put into prison in Iran for espionage, I tried to flirt (didn’t work) with Claudia Schiffer for a better cover shot, and received quite a few awards for my creative work.

1986 I left Stern to work as a freelancer. I photographed fashion for international magazines, a lot of advertising and fashion campaigns and a few videos (which I won’t show because I’m embarrassed).

But like the city of Bonn: After a few years, daily life became kind of repetitive and boring. So, parallel to my commercial work, I started a three-years-journey for Where God Resides, a project about sacred places around the world. It was quite a success, published in a book and shown in many exhibitions allover Europe. And it brought me back to Stern.

While I was discussing the rights to publish »Where God Resides« with the newly installed chief editors, we spontaneously liked each other and they offered me the job as art director of Stern. Again: The odds of failure were big but I couldn't say “No” to that offer and joined them in 2000.

Even personal history repeats itself: I had another eight fantastic years with them. While I was art director of Stern I also published the book series Stern Fotografie, developed a new monthly magazine called View and became its chief editor. I did what I do best: Play, communicate and touch people through pictures.

But something else is repetitive: My affection to try something new. So I left Stern again in 2008 to become the CMO of the executive board of a big franchise company. Professionally it was exciting because every day and every week I had to work on something I had never done before. Emotionally, it was exhausting though, so I decided to leave after three years. Since then I have looked into many digital business models and finally returned to my passion: The world of images.

In 2014 I started a four-years-project, photographing all over the world: The trilogy »Awakening«. It consists of three series: »Grey Matter(s)« (2014–2015), »Into the Light« (2015–2017) and »The Light Within« (2018). At first shady and mysterious, then cool and clear, finally contemplative and inviting – each of the three series emits an individual atmosphere.

With my trilogy I created an homage to our Earth. »Awakening« distinguishes itself by being photographed in colour, even though colour is mostly excluded from my work. I like to call it "The Absence of the Juggler Colour". Within the oeuvre »Awakening« I also try to establish a connection between our planet and the evolvement of the human soul. While part one and two represent aspiration for enlightenment, I see an end to this pursuit in the third series, when I move the source of knowledge within the protagonists.

The last years have been exciting. In 2016 I was awarded as "Photographer of the Year" at the Moscow International Photo Awards for the series »Grey Matter(s)«. My images are internationally presented in exhibitions by wonderful galleries. Life couldn't be better.

Images are the oldest, most effective way to communicate. But what is the secret of their magic? Look at a photograph and observe yourself: It is the only trick of us humans to make the time stand still. I love it.

Thank you so much,

tom