Get your notes out, class is in session. Looking at photographer Tobias König's work is like taking up a course on proper usage of patterns, perspective, and composition. He is so in tuned with these elements that everything melds together to form a seamless visual experience for the viewer. Your eyes don't wander off into corners, they say focused on the subject before them. Tobias is the kind of artist who takes control of the details you'll find in his work. Remarkable, brilliant.
Hello, Tobias! Welcome back to the Lomography Magazine. How would you define photography?
In my opinion photography is a distinct way to see the world. In every photograph you make, you define your perspective of your surroundings. It’s a way to express yourself and your point of view.
What's your favorite thing about taking photographs?
For me, the whole journey adds to it. From going places, interpreting what you see, to remembering it with every photo you took.
Let's talk a bit about your work — how would you describe your photographic style/approach?
I guess its a mixture between street and architecture photography. In the beginning it was all about perspectives. Working only with fixed lenses I started to get obsessed with how the angle changes every picture.
Who or what would you say was the biggest influence in your work?
There have been many. From friends I know because of photography, photographers I stumbled upon through the years, to everyday life. Back in the days I have been into skateboarding and studied every skate magazine I got into my hands. Since then I have been a huge fan of Fred Mortagne and his work. In addition to that the old masters like Bresson, Capa and the whole of Magnum photographers is always worth revisiting. Their body of work is just unbelievable and inspiring every time you see it. You can learn a lot just looking at those pictures.
We love the range of your work. You really make the black and white shots pop out. What is it about monochrome that you particularly like?
It’s just timeless and works really well with my kind of photography. When I first started messing with film cameras one of my best friends told me I should only shoot BNW and really focus on framing, exposure and the right moment instead of other stuff. I immediately fell in love with the look. Even when I shoot digital today and edit the photos I tend to always have a monochrome version as well and find it hard to choose which works best for me: monochrome or color.
What's your favorite black and white film?
Ilford Delta 100. The contrasts of this film just work so good for me.
One thing that we like about your work is the intense blacks and rich textures. Is this a style you were going for?
Definitely. I am obsessed with textures, structures and perspectives. I can spend hours exploring different viewpoints when it comes to architecture or other interesting places. People tend to be fed up with me when I am stopping and taking too much time to take photographs of some silly stuff...
What's your favorite photo? Could you tell us the story behind it?
Its a photo I shot a couple of years ago. I was shot when i was still studying in the Ruhr area of Germany. Most people think this area is just ugly but it really isn’t. There is so much to be discovered and it has a nice charm to it. In between the old coal mines and smelting mines are structures like this art piece called tiger and turtle by artists Ulrich Genth and Heike Mutter. When I stumbled upon this architectural structure I was immediately smitten by it and shot a whole role of film as the last minutes of daylight where ticking down. For me this just photo has a great mood to it.
In your opinion, what makes a 'good photograph?'
For me a good photograph should be an eyecatcher. Either it is a great candid moment, an interesting perspective or an outstanding use of colors.
Define your style in 5 words.
Light, Shadow, Architecture, Black and White.
Who are the artists that you follow on a regular basis?
As I mentioned earlier I mostly follow the works of people I got to know through the camera. There is Julian from It Is November who is a great travel buddy, Pramudiya shooting amazing portraits, and Oz Barak who has an amazing use of colors.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers and creatives out there?
In times where Social Media is consumed so much you really have to put your phone aside sometimes and start reflecting on you and your work. Create more instead of consuming. Find your own way instead of copying what you think might please others.
What do you think matters more — talent or skill?
If you ask me, you definitely have to have the skill. Talent can of course make it much easier to gain the skills though.
What was the most memorable advice you've been given in your career as a photographer?
It might have been the good old Chase Jarvis: "Get your work out there, connect with others and spend as much time as you can with the thing you wanna do."
What other interests do you have outside of photography?
Art, architecture, music, food and coffee.
How does a perfect day look like for Tobias König?
Perfect day: waking up early in a city i have never been to, shooting some pictures before having a slow breakfast with some good coffee. If possible I would check out a gallery, exhibition or museum later in the day with some coffees and food in between.
What's next for you?
I want to do another exhibition this year, finally create a website which combines both my analogue and digital work. But the most important thing: Figuring out, where I wanna go with all of this...
Any last words for our readers?
We would like to express our gratitude to Tobias for letting us feature his work on the Online Magazine.