The City in Black and White: Urban Photography by Thorsten Koch

Thorsten Koch is a German photographer based in Dusseldorf whose work captures the atmosphere of a European city. Many of his pictures focus on an individual, giving the city a solitary feeling despite the crowds. Each person is caught in his/her own world: thinking, waiting, going someplace alone.

The majority of his images are also in black and white. This choice strengthens the feeling of individualism and isolation present throughout his work. Instead of a multitude of colors, the viewer sees the world in monochrome, a single palette.

Though cities offer a variety of choices and chances to meet people, Thorsten’s perspective is true to life, too. The city is full of strangers and individuals passing each other without meeting. His pictures give a thought-provoking view of urban life, then, as well as showing us interesting snapshots of daily lives.

lost in reflections
cyclist reflected in a glass building

who´s calling
reflection in a puddle of a person calling

We asked Thorsten a few questions about his work and background in photography. Here are his answers in both English and German:

When and how did you start becoming interested in photography?

I bought my first analog camera in the early 80s and shot everything that came in front of my lens. However, I quickly noticed that developing the negatives made me run out of all my pocket money fast.

Meine erste analoge Kamera kaufte ich in den frühen 80ern und schoss alles was mir vor die Linse kam. Allerdings bemerkte ich auch schnell, dass die Entwicklungen schnell mein gesamtes Taschengeld aufbrauchte.

Man running in the street

cyclist going very fast through the city

Which b/w pictures are you the most happy about, and why?

The next thing I make always makes me the happiest!

Das nächste was ich mache ,macht mich immer am glücklichsten ! 

Have you had any memorable experiences while taking photos in the city?

No! But every day, you get to know wonderful people, and you learn to see the city with different eyes when you pay attention to the big picture.

Nein! Aber man lernt jeden Tag wunderbare Menschen kennen und lernt die Stadt mit anderen Augen kennen wenn man das grosse ganze ausblendet.

the gap
woman in a metro station viewed through a gap

paparazzi at work
paparazzi photographer with a hat taking photos

Do you have any advice for photographers who want to get great b/w shots?

The only advice I can give is to never place yourself where other photographers are. Nothing is more boring than the ten millionth photo of the Cologne Cathedral from the same perspective!

In the end only one thing matters, that you enjoy what you do! If more people took pictures, the world would be a better place… Behind the lens, everyone is equal.

Den einzigen Rat den ich jedem geben kann ist nur “stelle dich niemals dahin ,wo andere Fotografen stehen, nichts ist langweiliger als das 10000000 Foto vom KölnerDom ect aus der selben Ansicht !”

Am Ende zählt doch nur ,dass man Spass hat an dem was man tut !
Würden mehr Menschen fotografieren ,wäre die Welt ein besser Ort …
“hinter der Linse sind alle gleich”

missed the train
a man photographed through a window at a subway station in Düsseldorf

Lady in black (&white )
Woman walking in a metro station

Sunday Morning News
Man walking through Königsallee Düsseldorf

i was standing in front of him and he didn’t perceive me
Man using his phone sitting on a staircase

Man using his phone while sitting on a fence

… let me take you by the hand, and lead you through the streets of london, i’ll show you something to make you change your mind
car mirror with union jack and man on a bicycle

Man walking down a staircase with a painting of cows

dog walk
man walking his dog seen between statues

two worlds
woman walking on the street with her reflection in a window

read more books and meet great girls
girl reading a book outside

boring vernissage
boy sitting on a suitcase

woman walking in front of a sign

Man with hat II
silhouette of a man with a hat

cloud rowing
man rowing in Düsseldorf Media Harbor with reflections of clouds

To see more of Thorsten’s photography, visit his Facebook page or Flickr photostream.