In our 15 years of iHeartBerlin, we have seen quite a bit in terms of Berlin photos and of course taken a lot ourselves. Especially the great Instagram photography era has given us many wonderful impressions of our city, which has shown us many unknown and surprising sides of Berlin. So understandably, it’s a bit difficult to impress us with Berlin photos nowadays. Or so we thought.
A few weeks ago we received an email from Mark Rautenberg, who drew our attention to his Berlin photographs. We get such submissions every now and then and are of course always grateful and happy when we can share the work of creative Berliners on our blog, especially because it allows us to give new or lesser-known creatives a platform.
Mark’s photographs immediately caught our eye because they show sides of Berlin that we haven’t seen even in our 15 years. We immediately noticed that there is someone at work here who knows Berlin particularly well and in whom you can sense a passion for the city that goes beyond the usual drive for aesthetic perfection. Mark captures in his photos not only the usual icons of the city, such as the TV Tower or the Memorial Church but also many residential and industrial buildings of the city. The special thing about his photos is, on the one hand, the angles from which he captures his motifs. They are in fact often on inaccessible places such as cranes and restricted roofs. And that is by no means a coincidence.
“I learned to be an industrial climber,” Mark tells us, “so I know how to move around on roofs, have an arsenal of climbing gear for everything from rappelling to belaying. After training, I realized I didn’t want a 9to5 life and took up photography.”
Coming from rather less-than-legal beginnings, Mark has built a professional reputation as a photographer over the past few years, amassing countless official permits and accesses from property managers and property owners that now allow him to legally and securely shoot from rooftops and places no one else can get to.
As legal as it is, it is still not completely safe or without obstacles. But what is the reason for it, that has surprised us after all: “I’ve seen umpteen times people at orgies where I then had to stop and leave the roof, because when people fuck with open windows and someone stands with a cam on the roof, even if he takes pictures in the other direction, that’s weird.”
However, Mark is not afraid of a fall, as has unfortunately happened to many a daredevil social media photographers in the pursuit of the viral image, thanks to his professional background. “Thrills come in a different way for me these days,” he tells us. “For example, if I have to go to the edge with safety on and I have the abyss below me, or if I get an access and it’s only once, I’m always afraid that the photos won’t turn out well.”
Fortunately, this mishap doesn’t seem to have happened to him yet, because his archive of images is truly impressive, and not just for connoisseurs of the city. But the motifs and the special angles are not the only reason why his photos caught our eye. The light moments Mark captures in his photos often seem to have taken place at magical moments, making the city look truly epic – and without any filters at all. Of course, this is no coincidence either, but the result of a good knowledge of the prevailing light conditions, as well as a lot of patience and persistence.
“Berlin is, despite all adversities, my hometown that I love and will always love,” he enthuses us. You can really tell that from his photos, especially when you find similar motifs again and again in his gallery, taken at different times of the day and thus once again bringing out completely different details and moods from a place.
With his unusual career from a professional climber to a photographer on the rooftops of Berlin, Mark has, without anticipating it, fulfilled a lifelong dream. “Even if it’s hard as an artist, I still love it and don’t want to do anything else until my last breath. Others go out drinking or sit in a café – I sometimes sit on a rooftop with pizza in the summer. I never know what I’m going to experience or who I’m going to meet, and I love that.”
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Find more of Mark’s photos of Berlin at KabGrafie.com. A small impression of how he captures his photos can be seen in the following video.