Kay Strasser is a freelance photographer based in Berlin. His photographs are self-confident, inspiring, and independent – as he is himself. His goal is to make his audience curious about different things. After 10 years working as a freelance journalist, Kay decided to become freelance artist. From 2000-2002, he worked as an assistant in Paris, and afterwards began working as a freelance photographer in Berlin. He has been a member of betahaus since 2010.
You are a freelance photographer based in Berlin, and you have also worked in London. As a photographer, what is for you, the biggest difference between these two cities?
They are totally different and inspiring in their own ways. London is more commercial and rude in its history – it is an interesting space which integrates history with the present and the future in its aesthetic aspect. In London, if a station is refurbished, they don’t disturb anything – they keep the old benches and other things if they can, and it works. In Berlin, you destroy everything and you make something new – that’s how Germans think. For me, as a creative person, I prefer the way London does it. But at the moment, Berlin is more inspiring for me, because more foreigners are coming here, and I like the idea of working in ODC and betahaus – it brought a new perspective to everything, and I find it interesting to work with all the different people here.
Could you tell us something about your camera equipment – what is your favourite lens, for instance?
I am not that interested in technology. For me, a camera should be comfortable and easy to handle. The brand isn’t important – I just need a simple way to access the logical aspect of photography, and modern cameras don’t quite give me that, because they want to make everything easier for their users. I am not normal user; I am someone who wants to find the logical aspect of everything, so I need a camera with high-quality output, no matter the brand.
What is your philosophy regarding photography?
I started with analogue equipment, and I am still really into that. I use a digital camera like I would use an analogue one – I am not so interested in editing or in other possibilities of Photoshop. For example, knowing the circle of colours it is more important for me than knowing any Photoshop function. That means that if you know the basic ideas of photography, and the physics behind it, you wouldn’t need a computer working for you – you can work on your own. That is my philosophy of photography and creativity.
You’ve had many single and group exhibitions, and collaborations with clients from all over the world. Are you especially proud of any of these your work that you have done or be involved?
Pride is not the reason I do this. I am not interested in success or money. In our society, money is important because it is the way to pay for your life. I have done some jobs to earn money, but I don’t consider that to be very important. I am more interested in learning, having open eyes, meeting interesting people, enhancing my perspective, creating something new, find in something that hasn’t happened before – these are the main reasons behind what I do.
What is the most important moment for you when taking a photo? Are you looking for a moment to combine the photo with the story, or does everything happen spontaneously?
I am interested in atmosphere. I try to catch it and figure out what part of it is interesting to me. The image is always of an interpretation, and I am the one who is responsible for that. In the end, I decide what to show, and how to show it. It’s not a simple decision – you need a lot of experience to make the right decision and to carry it out in the right way. A two-dimensional image is technically really limited; you need to use as much experience as you have, keep open eyes, draw inspiration from various fields, and the result can be quite interesting. I have been doing this for 2 years now, and it has become easier for me. I don’t need to think through every image – when I have an idea, I know what to do with it.
How you see yourself in the future? What advice would you give to young freelance photographers?
I like to keep on walking. I would like to have a little bit more security for my assistance, this is not so easy to handle. At the moment I am able to create distracters, which are clearer for me and easier to communicate. I’ve realized some of my clients are interested in what I am doing, even if is not so suitable for their potential market.
It is always difficult to give advice to young photographers on what to do in general. I believe in tutorship – if someone is there who needs help, has questions, or wants me to show them something, I try to help out. If young photographers ask me for advice, I end up learning at the same time as well, so I invite everyone to discuss their projects with me.