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.

 
 
 
 

Five lessons for cities from a decade of Centre for Cities research

The view of Vancouver from Locarno Beach Park. Image: Getty.

With the government potentially facing years of “trench warfare” in Parliament, and Brexit set to dominate the national political agenda for the foreseeable future, local leaders have the chance to play a critical role in driving the UK’s economy in the coming years. However, it’s also clear that UK cities will face big challenges in the new economic circumstances outside the EU, and in responding to other issues such as globalisation and automation.

To meet these challenges and opportunities, local leaders will need to make the most of their existing resources and powers – and one of the best ways to do so is to learn from the experiences and ideas of other places.

That’s why the Centre for Cities recently launched a new, easy-to-navigate case study library featuring over 150 examples of good practice from cities in the UK and across the world. Drawn from more than 10 years of Centre for Cities research, the library offers examples of innovative and effective urban policy making in areas such as housing and transport, skills and employment, business and enterprise, and leadership.

In the process of compiling the case study library, five key lessons for cities stood out in particular:

1) Pooling resources with other local authorities can help places achieve more than they can do on their own.

Take Cambridge, for example. Its ability to deliver housing changed in the mid-2000s thanks to the establishment of the Cambridge sub-regional housing board.

By working in partnership with neighbouring authorities (as well as with development companies and a strategic planning unit), Cambridge has been able to reach a consensus on the importance of increasing density and introducing transport-oriented urban extensions.

2) Cities should also make the most of the support and initiatives that non-public sector partners can offer.

For example, Manchester City Council worked in partnership with NESTA and other agencies to launch an innovative ‘Creative Credit’ voucher scheme in 2010. Through this initiative, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the city region were given vouchers worth £4,000 to spend on buying services from creative companies provided they spent at least £1,000 themselves. The pilot was oversubscribed and its evaluation showed a positive impact on sales and the innovation capacity of participants.

3) Having a clear understanding of the needs of people targeted by a specific programme or project will be vital in its success.

This is demonstrated by the success of Blade Runners, an employment programme set up by the City of Vancouver to support 15-30 year olds facing multiple barriers from getting into training and/or employment (such as substance misuse, homelessness, transportation costs and legal issues).

Three quarters of the participants in the programme completed training and moved into jobs, a success rate made possible by the continuous, targeted support provided by Blade Runners coordinators. This included referring participants to appropriate resources, and providing them with breakfast and lunch, living allowances, travel tickets, tools, equipment and work gear for training.


4) Even when cities do not have formal powers to make a difference, they can still use their leadership role to influence and inspire positive changes.

For example, in 2010 the then Mayor of London Boris Johnson launched the London Apprenticeship Campaign which aimed to increase awareness of the scheme. Letters signed by the London Mayor were sent to CEOs of large businesses outlining the value of apprenticeships, and the potential benefits of recruiting apprentices. The campaign had a positive impact on raising awareness among employers and helped to boost the profile of apprenticeships in London.

5) Monitoring and evaluating projects from their early stages is crucial for their long-term success.

San Francisco offers a clear example of how long term policy making coupled with close monitoring can drive change and create jobs. In 2002, the city set itself the goal of a 75 per cent reduction in landfill waste by 2010 and zero waste by 2020. Thanks to close evaluation of the projects, the city realised its efforts were not enough to reach the target, and so introduced a further 20 laws to address these issues. The city is now ahead of its schedule in meeting objectives.

You can access the case study library and to read about these examples in more detail here. We are always keen to hear about new case studies, so please do get in contact if you’d like to share good practice from your city.

Elena Magrini is a researcher at the Centre for Cities, on whose website this article originally appeared.

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook.