Who is Andreas Bleckmann?
I’m a photographer, born in West Germany, son of a pharmacy owner, I spent almost 40 years living in New York and London, but now I live with my partner on the south coast of England.
Hastings! You are so wonderful!?
It is a great place, a beautiful medieval fishing harbor, but it’s always been a tough place to make a living and it has its share of social problems. Also, as more money moves in, there is a sense of community displacement. But having lived in the lower east side of Manhattan in the 80’s until the late 90’s and East London throughout the noughties until 2017, for me, this is not a new phenomenon. Despite that, it is a relatively integrated supportive community with a strong sense of creative and cultural heritage, plus loads of great pubs.
Sandy beach or pebble beach?
Usually sand, but our closest beach has pebbles and that’s ok.
One of my favorite CAN songs!
Why is it important for you to show things and people as they are to depict reality?
I guess it’s a cultural record, as time moves on and people change, the images can take on increased significance. But its more than that. I’m not just archiving my surroundings I’m making compositional choices and selecting people based on clothing or appearance in relationship to the environment. So, I can’t realistically claim to depict reality, just my interpretation of it. It’s also really practical, I just need two legs, a working eye and my camera.
Anyone can be a fisherman in May? (Ernest Hemingway)
There are gems to catch throughout the year. You just have to keep going.
Wolfgang Tillmans or Martin Parr?
Do you start with a concept or is your approach rather instinctive?
Definitely instinctive. I’m not a conceptual photographer.
A working-class hero is something to be? (John Lennon)
That’s a tricky question, but within the context of the song, no of course not. Opportunities and choices should not depend on which side of the cultural divide you are born into.
Do you think we consume images just like we consume groceries?
Yes, I think we do, I definitely do, but I also love taking my time and absorbing a well-made photography book.
Did it ever take you hours to get the right image?
My partner and I worked on a series of portraits and we spent several hours with each sitter. This brought a certain level of intimacy into the pictures but it’s not how I normally work, I’m pretty quick.
Home is where your next photography location is?
I’m not planning on moving any time soon, but I will take pictures where I live, so I guess you could say my photography location is where my home is.
Some things hurt more much more than cars and girls? (Prefab Sprout)
When I lost all my cameras in a burglary that was pretty painful. But years later my best beloved Rolleiflex was found in a used camera shop and returned to me. I have worked with it every day since. In fact, my current project Rock-A-Nore is exclusively shot with it.
Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse?
I prefer longevity. I’m way too old to subscribe to that.
What do you make of democratized photography on social media and the ephemeral of images on these channels?
Overall, I think it’s fantastic that photography is so cheap, accessible and easy to produce. Why should the creative act of taking a picture be dependent on being a “photographer”? After all there was a time when the majority of the population could neither read or write, but a literate population only produces a few great writers, so I believe that quality photography will continue to find its place and great photography will not disappear when the social media platform closes.
Have you been taking pictures from an early age?
Aged 9, I received an Agfa Instamatic camera with a flash cube. At the time I was passionately involved with building plastic model kits. Next to planes, cars and tanks I built an Airfix 1/130 scale Cutty Sark. I planted a huge fire cracker inside the hull in the hope of capturing the moment of explosion with my new camera. After lighting the fuse, the painstakingly built and authentically painted ship was blown to pieces before I pressed the shutter. I tried this method with a few other models but was never really happy with the outcome and decided to give up this sort of photography until moving to New York in the 1980’s, where I started photographing street scenes.
How do you manage to stay inspired?
I love photography.
Hacienda ’88 or Berghain ’22?
Neither. Danceteria ’84!
Your goal in life? To direct a music video for Westbam?
Ha! You deep googled me…! No…, but it would be fun. My goal right now is to publish my first book.
_Uwe Buschmann (copy editing Silvia Strauch)