A Conversation With Guido Klumpe

Guido Klumpe is a street photographer from Hannover in Niedersachsen, Germany. He is known for his colorful and original street photography captured in a distinct and unique style. He is also a member of the Unposed Society of Hannover, a German street photographer collective.


I'm almost blind on the left and have 25% vision on the right because the optic nerves don't pass on as much information to the brain

© Guido Klumpe


© Guido Klumpe



Guido, first of all, thank you for being willing to be interviewed for the swissstreetcollective. I was very much looking forward to this interview. You may not know, but you were one of the first street photographers I discovered after I started in street photography.


Thank you very much for the invitation and the compliment Bastian!

You mention on your website that you are visually impaired. When I look at your images, this is very hard to believe as they are so stunning.

How has this visual impairment affected you way back when you started?


It's hard to say because I haven't seen that well since birth. I'm almost blind on the left and have 25% vision on the right because the optic nerves don't pass on as much information to the brain. The vision I have of the world is quite flat and has little detail.

You can imagine it like an internet video with a low data rate. If there is only one person on the video, you can see many details. With a crowd of people, on the other hand, the faces are very roughly drawn.

I often discover details in my photographs that I would otherwise have missed.

Through photography I see more of the world.

Everyone has an idea of what the scene in the picture will look like at the moment you press the shutter. So the inner images and the idea of the world are essential in photography.

I guess the less you can see of the world, the greater the effect.

When I discover an interesting spot on the street, I think a lot about the composition and try out different angles before I snap. My visual impairment definitely makes me a slow photographer.


Every day I notice how my vision plays tricks on me. What I think is a dog on the lawn was just a plastic bag. Or the stairs don't lead there as I suspected.

Every day I notice how my vision plays tricks on me. What I think is a dog on the lawn was just a plastic bag. Or the stairs don't lead there as I suspected.

I process this playfully in my abstract photographs: when the person looking at the photo wonders what is in front or behind, what is up and what is down, then I am happy. The photo works.

© Guido Klumpe


© Guido Klumpe


That's when it started I could literally feel an inner shackle falling away: "I'm a street photographer. I only take photos with people.

You started focusing more on minimalist imagery since the lockdown. Since then, you have created a distinctive and impressive body of work featuring your minimalist imagery.

Were the measurents against corona a key moment for you creatively, to go another path?


Definitely! The weather in March was wonderful, the light perfect. I was on holiday and really wanted to take pictures. And then came the lockdown.

We from the collective "Unposed Society Hannover" planned an exhibition for August 2020 with the title "Hold the line please". It's about the tram lines in Hanover, each member has chosen a line and only goes to photograph along this line. We wanted to present the work at an exhibition in August, which of course fell through.

So I walked along the tracks and got bored. There was no one outside, although you were allowed to take walks. The fear was too great.

Then I came to a settlement with colourful cubist houses and started experimenting. That's when it started I could literally feel an inner shackle falling away: "I'm a street photographer. I only take photos with people."

Now I see myself as a street photographer who documents urban landscapes and the light in them. When possible, I place people in these urban landscapes to add a human dimension to the scene. This feels much freer and more creative.

In my abstract works, I am particularly interested in the fragile moment of transition, when three-dimensional parts of the cityscape are abstracted into the two-dimensional by reducing the points of reference. How much of the scenery do I show so that it remains exciting for the eye? How much do I exclude so that questions arise? What I learn in the process I can also use for my street photography.



© Guido Klumpe


© Guido Klumpe



That must have been quite the moment. I know from my own experience how good it feels to lose exactly those shackles.

You once mentioned to me that you started using telephoto lenses more often during this summer . Do you use certain gear for a certain style of image, or do you shoot more out of instinct?


In the meantime I only use the Fuji 16-80 F4 lens (24-120mm on full frame).

I deliberately work with all focal lengths because I often link different image planes. And with the focal length I can determine the effect of the compression. This means that the background appears larger with longer focal lengths. This gives me more control over composition and image effect.

Sometimes I also use the zoom as binoculars. Just to see if it's worth going to the other side of the street.


I was in Southeast Asia for seven months and discovered the fascination of street photography without knowing that the genre even existed

Coming back to the roots of your photography. Did you ever share your first street photographs publicly? Especially the ones you took as a teenager?


Yes, I posted a photo from 1993 on Instagram. I was in Southeast Asia for seven months and discovered the fascination of street photography without knowing that the genre even existed. I took the picture during my hike through the Anapurna Mountains in Nepal. You had to be quite careful with the monkeys. Otherwise not only food disappeared from the backpack...



© Guido Klumpe


Since I don't try to hide anything anymore, but stand around and take pictures quite obviously, I strangely don't get in trouble anymore

Thats awesome. My dream is similar. Someday I need to go to Hong Kong and other Asian places. Overcome my fear of flight and develop as a photographer.


The social life, social and cultural norms are certainly different in different countries, regions and perhaps even neighborhoods. I often feel “observed” or too “visible” when I do street photography. Do you have any advice for people like me?


I know that feeling quite well. You're right, it can really change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood how people react to street photographers.

When I tried to photograph people hidden, I often got into trouble. It was never bad. I explained myself, asked for forgiveness and deleted the picture.

I think the most important thing is to feel comfortable and authentic on the street.

Since I don't try to hide anything anymore, but stand around and take pictures quite obviously, I strangely don't get in trouble anymore. I stand in the crowd and most people don't even notice me. Everybody wants to go somewhere, almost all passers-by have something to do and thinking about work or dinner - and fade out everything that is not threatening. The more self-evidently I act, the more harmless and invisible I am. For some I'm strange, others think I'm from the newspaper. When I am approached, it is out of friendly interest. So there's nothing bad to fear as long as you're not snapping alone in the red light district at night.


However, if you want to take very good candid photos, you have to be cool and practise, practise, practise. Because it's important to release before you think about the photo. The camera has to become a part of your body so that you intuitively determine the frame, the lines and the angle of view perfectly.



© Guido Klumpe


© Guido Klumpe


There are many things I criticise about Instagram

How would you say social media impacted your photography?


Social media has definitely influenced me. And I would say in a positive sense. Nowhere else can you find so many great photographers and collectives in one place as on Instagram. And nowhere it´s so easy to exchange ideas with other artists and to develop new ideas.


There are many things I criticise about Instagram: for example, all the hype about followers and likes, which can lead to photographers repeating themselves or copying a certain style because it brings a lot of likes. I'm also annoyed that a top-secret algorithm determines what I see and what I don't see.

But I'm also grateful for the way Instagram pushes my work forward.



Its a double-edged sword. I totally agree.


You are part of the Unposed Society Hannover, a well known street collective from Germany. Could you tell us more about it?


We are seven street-enthusiastic guys from Hanover, a medium-sized city in northern Germany. We are united by a great passion for street photography. Our goal is to make this genre better known and more accepted in Hanover and Germany. Before the pandemic, we organised workshops, visited exhibitions and arranged to go on walks together in Hanover and other cities. Often there were visitors from other cities. 2020 was, of course, very quiet. Our plans for an "Official" and a "Guerrilla" exhibition will hopefully become reality in 2021.

You can find us on Instagram under @unposed_society_hannover. We feature inspiring street photographers there every day.



© Guido Klumpe


© Guido Klumpe



And now totally out of the blue: Did you ever feel like quitting street photography?


Sometimes, on bad days. There were times when I started to get bored. I lacked new ideas. I repeated myself. Thank God, those were only short phases, which I think everyone experiences.

I agree on that. Thats certainly true and it is part of the whole I think. Overcoming those issues is part of the journey and the evolution.


Right now you are selling a calendar you created. Is this a project you do every year?


This was a rather spontaneous action that I started for the first time in November 2020. And although I was late in the calendar business, the calendars sold well. I think I'll do it again this year, just a little earlier!



© Guido Klumpe


© Guido Klumpe



At the moment you are represented by The Artling.

What is The Artling and how did that come about?


This is a curated online gallery based in Singapore and Shanghai. They sell worldwide, but I think their main focus is in Asia. When I sell something there, "The Art-ling" keeps a part as commission. I offer signed and limited fine-art prints there, but there are also prints on Alu-Dibond and acrylic. I was invited by the gallery to exhibit there, but you can also apply there.



Thank you so much for the conversation Guido!


It was a pleasure, Bastian! Thank you very much for the invitation!

Website: https://streetphotograph.de

Instagram: @streetphotograph.de

Kontakt: streetphotograph@mail.de


Kalender: https://streetphotograph.de/kalender-hannover-minimal/

Kollektiv: https://unposed-society.de



Interview written and conducted by Bastian Peter

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