@sascha.vanderwerf is an ex-marketing strategist, turned sky diver who is afraid of heights. Yes, you read that right. According to Sascha, during a recent mid-life crisis he discovered his deep desire for photography and nowadays, when he’s not up in the air, he’s walking around Vienna, capturing black and white photos of people and their shadows.
Here are 10 powerful shots and some words from Sascha:
1. What is you name & where are you from originally?
Sascha. I’m half Dutch, half Austrian, born in Wolfsberg, Carinthia.
2. How did you end up in Vienna?
It’s the usual story really – I arrived in 2002 to study management and ended up working in marketing and sales for many years. I always wanted to become a professional in extreme sports and so I started being a sky diving instructor in the summers. Recently, I have started to look for new things in life. Perhaps it’s because I turned 40 and I’m having a little mid-life crisis, but I decided to trust myself with my true passion of photography and just do it!
3. Tell us about your photographs.
I take black and white photos of people in Vienna. I used to think people only want colour photographs and didn’t dare to show my black and white photos, but since my 40th birthday, I do what I like and have learned that this is the strongest voice you can have. So I just walk around Vienna with my camera, and if I see the perfect light and shadow play, I stay in the spot and wait for someone to come by and give me my perfect shot. I never do stand still for too long, because inspiration comes from walking around for me. What’s important to me is that I shoot with respect, meaning no photos of homeless people, no politics, no religion, just photos of the ‘every day’. If people are visible in my photos, than they are still visible with respect.
4. How did it all start?
I always had an interest in photography. My dad was an avid photographer and I still clean his dusty camera off from time to time. I used to just snap around photos some years ago, but since turning 40, I decided I would dare to follow my vision, and photograph, rather than just ‘snap’. There is a difference between snapping and taking photos – snapping is technical and photography is done with the heart.
5. Is there a special way you approach your subjects?
I like to take photos of people when they don’t realise it. This makes the images natural. I am told that I can tell stories with my photos.
6. What equipment do you use to photograph?
I use a Leica Q 28mm fix lens (while he says this he eyes his camera in an enchanted kinda’ way). A fix lens helps you to see different points of view because you can’t zoom and so you’re looking for the image from your angle. My camera is always on, and in my hand ready to shoot while I walk the streets. No matter what camera you use, it is what you see that counts: you take a photo with your eyes not with a camera.
7. Did Instagram change how you see the world?
It helped me get my photos out there and get the feedback for them that I needed. I was, and am, discovering myself through Instagram as a photographer, and love the idea that so many people on Instagram aren’t professional photographers; they just shoot from their heart and haven’t studied photography. Instagrammers are often raw and passionate about their view and like to share it. I like to do that too, and want to share my inspiration with others. I am focusing on black and white photography and through Instagram I am getting into a community of other black and white photographers.
8. Who’s your favourite Instagrammer that you’re currently following?
9. Is there any music that inspires you in your work?
I listen to radio global Ibiza or café del mar all day, there is nothing like chilled lounge music of which I don’t understand a single Spanish word.
10. What location in Vienna do you love to shoot at?
One of my favourites is right next to the entrance of Hofburg and Volksgarten – the shadows fall perfectly there and I’m bound to get a good shot. In general, I love the 1st district for photos, because of the shadows, buildings and action that can be found there. There is always a lot going on and there are always people around that can tell a story.
11. What’s your favourite place to hang out in Vienna?
Bar Michele – no doubt about it.