CHRISTOPH MACK — Interview
Christoph Mack, Berlin-based photographer
Hello Christoph Mack, how are you?
Fine, thank you.
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m a photographer in my late twenties, working out of Berlin, Germany. My main interest is people: their stories, their appearances, their living conditions, their experiences – their lives as a whole. My aspiration is to channel this interest into not only visually pleasing images, but to also append a bit of that person’s or group’s character in my shots.
What do you like about your working and living place?
It’s been almost a decade since I moved to Berlin and the city’s been really good to me. It has played a huge role in shaping who I am and I probably would not have had the same opportunities to grow anywhere else – not only work-wise, but also as a person. This being said, I definitely want to live somewhere else, preferably on another continent, before settling down completely.
What is your experience and approach to photography?
I started out in 2007 as an assistant, did three years of photo school and have been on my own ever since. My approach to photography is usually heavily dictated by circumstance, but I always try to spend as much time with the subject as possible. While I’ve gotten better at making someone feel at ease quickly over the years, there’s a major visual and personal reward in having the time to establish a real connection with someone. I’ve also learned that a camera, while intimidating and inhibiting at first, can really help in breaking the ice. It provides a playing field and roles for the partners in this exchange – roles one can use to take refuge in, before opening up.
Your work focuses on portrait photography. What’s your interest about this kind of photography?
Portrait photography can be quite difficult at times, as you are so reliant on your counterpart, their mood, the setting and many other things that are often out of your control. But whenever I find myself envious of my friends that shoot stills, fashion or food and the level of control they have, I get to meet and shoot someone really interesting, inspiring or entertaining. And the joy of coming from an assignment like that, knowing you not only captured the experience in your mind but also on media, is what keeps me going.
Is there a meeting that marked you more than another?
Sometimes, meeting someone whose work you really admire can be quite underwhelming. So I guess it is the collection of all jobs and interactions I’ve had since I first picked up a camera, no matter if the results were good or bad, that has left its mark and made me who I am today.
What inspires and influences you?
Ambitious and gifted personalities, be it in my private life or when I meet them in a professional context. I’m also lucky enough to be sharing an office with two extremely talented friends, Amos Fricke and Jonas Lindström, so they are a constant source of inspiration and feedback.
And in terms of image’s aesthetic?
Not a very creative answer, but travelling really does the trick for me. And I definitely cannot force it – when I feel like I’m not advancing visually, I can look at blogs or photo books as much as I want, to no avail. It’s always a change of scenery, no matter how brief, that will leave me with fresh ideas and inspiration.
Which books are on your bedside table?
There’s a project I’ve been working on for a while, MAN AND GUN, that will take me to some conflict areas and developing countries, so I’m currently re-reading Susan Sontag’s “On Photography” and “Regarding The Pain Of Others”.
The last word…
Thank you for having me.
Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Baehler – 07.14
Portrait by Amos Fricke / Photographs ©Christoph Mack.