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.
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.
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.