Chaos in snapshots of bright city life: An interview with photographer Stephanie Jung

New York City. Image: Stephanie Jung.

Stephanie Jung’s hazy and experimental cityscapes keep the viewer as a static observer in the commotion of the city, conveying the intrusive bright lights and disorienting chaos of New York, Tokyo and Paris, among many others, giving a strong sense of the isolation that city life can bring.

Jung uses multiple exposure photography to generate her images. Based in Berlin, she has been travelling the world as a freelance photographer for the past five years, on what she describes on her website as a mission to capture to “vibrant and hectic” mood of a city, as she states.

CityMetric asked her some questions via email. 

How many cities have you photographed? 

Quite a few, I think around 12-15. Not all of them were big cities, I also like photographing small towns or villages. 

Berlin.

Which have been your favourites to take photos of? 

Not a city, but definitely a country: Japan. I cannot say there's a city I enjoyed the most. Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and Tokyo, they are all absolutely beautiful and there's so much to discover! 

How do you choose which aspects of the cities to capture

It is mostly about everyday scenes from a city. I take the images during walks, while enjoying the atmosphere of a certain place. I do not plan to take images based on a special motive; it happens very spontaneously. I walk around and see scenery or a moment that I really like and then take a picture of it. 

Are there any interesting stories associated with specific pictures? 

Well, for the image ‘Oderbruch’, I went to this region, situated in eastern Germany, after flooding hit the area, together with a photographer friend of mine. The atmosphere was incredible. It was absolutely silent and there was a kind of apocalyptic mood. I fell in love with this tree, it seemed like it had been branded by the incident. 

For the image ‘Nikko’ in Japan, my friend and I were looking for a famous bridge in [the town of] Nikko, but somehow got lost. That’s how I discovered this beautiful view of the mountains. The weather was kind of dramatic, which is why the atmosphere is dark. 

Nikko.

How do you achieve such an ethereal quality?

The biggest part is the motif itself. I walk around a lot to find the perfect motif, but mostly it's very spontaneous. 

Then, of course, post processing is another step, but it requires less time than taking the photograph. People always think it's the other way round. I have a foible for colours and atmospheric light, so that part is very important to me. Every image conveys a special mood through its colours. 


What do you think your methods can reflect about the cities that might be lost using single exposure photography? 

I’m trying to visualise time and transience, which everyone is confronted with, but can’t be seen with our eyes. My work captures of moments from life. Often, photography is about capturing those special moments, so that you can always remember them when looking at the picture. But I want to show more of this moment, show that it’s fading.

In my images there is a central moment in focus, but at the same time it seems to fade, which is what happens in real life.  Another point is the business of big cities, this really fascinates me. Through this technique I’d like to heighten that feeling in the viewer.

What reaction do you tend to get to your pictures from the inhabitants of cities that you photograph? 

Interestingly, there have only been a few reactions from inhabitants of the cities I visited, but when it was the case, people were surprised how I saw their city. 

This one's called “Maigo Deso IV”, the fourth in a series called “I'm lost” in Japanese. 

I got some positive reactions from Japanese people, as they think my pictures show the different aspects of their country, such as the hustle and bustle in cities like Tokyo, but also the [comparative] calm in quieter places. 

Which of your images do you believe is the best, and why? 

My favorite image is ‘Another view of Paris’, but more because of personal reasons. My mentor and good friend, the photographer Sabine Wenzel, loved the image – a print of it was hanging on her wall. Unfortunately, she passed away shortly after that, so this image always reminds me of her. 

All images courtesy of Stephanie Jung.

 
 
 
 

Barnet council has decided a name for its new mainline station. Exciting!

Artist's impression of the new Brent Cross. Image: Hammerson.

I’ve ranted before about the horror of naming stations after the lines that they’re served by (screw you, City Thameslink). So, keeping things in perspective as ever, I’ve been quietly dreading the opening of the proposed new station in north London which has been going by the name of Brent Cross Thameslink.

I’ve been cheered, then, by the news that station wouldn’t be called that at all, but will instead go by the much better name Brent Cross West. It’s hardly the cancellation of Brexit, I’ll grant, but in 2017 I’ll take my relief wherever I can find it.

Some background on this. When the Brent Cross shopping centre opened besides the A406 North Circular Road in 1976, it was only the third large shopping mall to arrive in Britain, and the first in London. (The Elephant & Castle one was earlier, but smaller.) Four decades later, though, it’s decidedly titchy compared to newer, shinier malls such as those thrown up by Westfield – so for some years now, its owners, Hammerson, have wanted to extend the place.

That, through the vagaries of the planning process, got folded into a much bigger regeneration scheme, known as Brent Cross Cricklewood (because, basically, it extends that far). A new bigger shopping centre will be connected, via a green bridge over the A406, to another site to the south. There you’ll find a whole new town centre, 200 more shops, four parks, 4m square feet of offices space and 7,500 homes.

This is all obviously tremendously exciting, if you’re into shops and homes and offices and not into depressing, car-based industrial wastelands, which is what the area largely consists of at the moment.

The Brent Cross site. Image: Google.

One element of the new development is the new station, which’ll sit between Hendon and Cricklewood on the Thameslink route. New stations are almost as exciting as new shops/homes/offices, so on balance I'm pro.

What I’ve not been pro is the name. For a long time, the proposed station has been colloquially referred to as Brent Cross Thameslink, which annoys me for two reasons:

1) Route names make rubbish modifiers because what if the route name changes? And:

2) It’s confusing, because it’s nearly a mile from Brent Cross tube station. West Hampstead Thameslink (euch), by contrast, is right next to West Hampstead tube.

Various other names have been proposed for the station. In one newsletter, it was Brent Cross Parkway; on Wikipedia, it’s currently Brent Cross South, apparently through confusion about the name of the new town centre development.

This week, though, Barnet council quietly confirmed it’d be Brent Cross West:

Whilst the marketing and branding of BXS needs to be developed further, all parties agree that the station name should build upon the Brent Cross identity already established. Given the station is located to the west of Brent Cross, it is considered that the station should be named Brent Cross West. Network Rail have confirmed that this name is acceptable for operational purposes. Consequently, the Committee is asked to approve that the new station be named Brent Cross West.

Where the new station will appear on the map, marked by a silly red arrow. Image: TfL.

That will introduce another irritating anomaly to the map, giving the impression that the existing Brent Cross station is somehow more central than the new one, when in fact they’re either side of the development. And so:

Consideration has also been given as to whether to pursue a name change for the tube station from “Brent Cross” to “Brent Cross East”.

Which would sort of make sense, wouldn’t it? But alas:

However owing to the very high cost of changing maps and signage London-wide this is not currently being pursued.

This is probably for the best. Only a handful of tube stations have been renamed since 1950: the last was Shepherd’s Bush Market, which was until 2008 was simply Shepherd's Bush, despite being quite a long way from the Shepherd's Bush station on the Central line. That, to me, suggests that one of the two Bethnal Green stations might be a more plausible candidate for an early rename.


At any rate: it seems unlikely that TfL will be renaming its Brent Cross station to encourage more people to use the new national rail one any time soon. But at least it won’t be Brent Cross Thameslink.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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