Fotogalerie im Blauen Haus

fotogalerieby Connor Mulvaney

“I think somebody said ‘if you want to make a statement, send a letter,’” said Nick Hermanns, curator of the Fotogalerie im Blauen Haus in Munich.

“Photography isn’t about having a message. This is just showing how somebody sees a special part of the world.”

Hermanns not only curates his own gallery but also is an avid professional photographer, author and a graphic designer. Seeing the trade of photography from both sides of the gallery windows has given him an interesting perspective on the field.

“I have a pretty simple philosophy about photography. It’s not so artistic and not so sophisticated,” said Hermanns. “[Making a photograph] is just showing how I see something. It’s just a picture.”

Hermanns , 63, who has lived in Munich for 45 years and has operated his gallery since 2010, describes his taste as traditional, which drives his choices in exhibitions in his gallery.  His current exhibit, “Landscape Impressions” is by Willi Morali, a photographer and architect from Velbert, Rheinland

“There is one thing which all my artists have in common.  They do pure photography, so they don’t manipulate [their photographs],” said Hermanns.

This technical foundation separates Fotogalerie im Blauen Haus from the field of German galleries and photographers, according to Hermanns. “I don’t think [this exhibit] fits in anything.  It’s really completely outstanding,” Hermanns said.  “It’s really far away from the German art scene.”

In an art community with many “extremely expensive” and popular photographers, Hermanns’ gallery stays true to his principles.

“This gallery has its focus on photography, not on art. It’s more [about] a kind of straight photography, which is easy to understand and nice to look at,” said Hermanns.  “Of course, sometimes the issues [represented in themes of other works] are wilder than this one, but still, it’s not a big art thing.  It’s just photography.”

willimoraliPhotos in Landscape Impressions by Morali were all exposed on film across several countrysides across Europe.  Each is carefully composed, often with vanishing points or displaying perspective in some form in a way that draws the viewer’s eye around the picture and easily allows him or her to digest the photograph.

“It’s pretty easy to understand. It’s not a sophisticated kind of artificial photography,” said Hermanns.  “You can just look at it, you see it’s a tree, it’s black and white, and I understand what is happening there.  It’s nothing with a big concept or intellectual whatever. It’s just photography.”

The photos were printed in a darkroom on silver gelatin paper and then toned with gold, selenium or palladium to give them a taste of color as well as to preserve them.

This may read like Greek to the modern photo enthusiast, but it is this traditional approach that Hermanns has a passion for.

“The guys who work like this are not so many.  Most [photographers today] shoot digitally…and this very traditional style starts to become rare,” said Hermanns.

However, the value of traditionally made photographs in a lightning-fast paced field is not necessarily worth its weight in whatever it’s toned in.

“I don’t think [working this way] is of value. It’s just another way to work,” said Hermanns.  “I think it’s a question of feeling.  [Silver gelatin] gives you the feeling that this is really craftsmanship, somebody did something with that and not [just] pushed a button.  Both can bring perfect results.”

Morali was able to produce such perfect results in Landscape Impressions, according to Hermanns.

“I think he’s a really extremely perfect printer,” he said.  “If you’ve seen the tones of the photography, there is still something in the black, the deep parts of the photo, and also in the very, very light ones.  This is perfectly done; it’s just really good craft.”

DPA’s classic news in a modern world

dpa_newsroom_politik3by Connor Mulvaney

Chief photographer of the Deutsche Presse-Agentur Michael Kappeler believes taking one good photograph is all you need to market news photos.

“Before in the print world, we tried [to get] one good photo which tells the whole story, but now that’s changing,” said Kappeler.

Today in the digital world, photographers are able to tell stories in countless photographs. However, this is not how DPA conducts its business.

“Print is still important,” said Kappeler.

A surprising statement from a modern newsperson, but in his opinion, it’s a justifiable one.

“It’s the moneymaker for us because we cannot earn money in the digital world,” said Kappeler.  “So we make money with the print clients and so we have to satisfy them.”

Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH, founded in 1949 in Germany and based in Hamburg, has grown to be a major worldwide operation serving print media, radio, television, online, mobile phones, and national news agencies. News is available in GermanEnglishSpanish and Arabic. The English service is produced in Berlin, which is also the location of the central news office. The DPA has offices in 80 countries, 12 regional German bureaus along with 50 additional offices in Germany. Point Park students and faculty visited the Berlin office and also heard from Christian Rowenkamp, head of corporate communication, on DPA operations.

In particular, DPA aims to please clients with its “classic” news photographs.  That is, one photo that shows the action and emotion of a situation, and tells the story with one exposure of the camera sensor. Kapperler said the agency has 100 photographers in Germany alone to accomplish that compared to the eight the Associated Press has in all of Germany.

By using the word “client,” Kappeler is of course referring to media outlets.  Not the public.  This in opposition to its  American counterpart, AP, who caters to its  news partners but also permits some public access to its website, stories and photographs. .

“We are only providing news to business clients,” said Kappeler.  “They can use these pictures or information to bring to their clients because we have no way to earn money back [from non-business clients].  So they can [sell] news to their clients, so they can buy the news.”

The DPA’s international reach and commitment to its German clients make it vital to reporting German news.  Its client list proves it. Nearly 100 percent of German media outlets are partners of DPA, according to Kappeler.

“For…the Olympics, or the pope’s election… we send our own DPA photographers to countries where these things happen,” said Kappeler.  These photographers have two jobs – “They do general news, but they also follow the German interest.”

dpa_web_02A hard concept to understand for Americans, as the United States is often at the center of attention when it is involved in global affairs.  For smaller countries like Germany, an extra effort is required to report international news.

“If something happens, there is not always a German interest [reported by other outlets],” said Kappeler.  “The best example is the Olympics.  If a German sports team reaches fourth place, nobody will take a picture of them because [reporters] just follow the medal winners.”

One DPA German photograph of interest worldwide was the recent one that Kappeler himself took – of outgoing Pope Benedict’s hand with the papal ring about to be destroyed per Catholic Church regulations.  He said he took a chance on that photograph, but it was used in countless publications.

Thus, DPA’s commitment to its clients leads them to exactly what they need.

“It’s our task, then, just to follow the German interest because there is a huge media market in Germany, so we have a lot of clients and they want to know what the Germans are doing.”

Day 10 – CM



Our last day in Germany was spent at the ad agency Ketchum-Pleon, a company that was founded in Pittsburgh.  We then went to Suddeutsche Zeitung, which is the German equivalent to the New York Times.  The group listened to presentations by representatives from the paper, then got an informative tour of the presses.  I always like walking past the Post-Gazette building at home and watching their papers being printed, but this tour was something else.  I enjoyed learning exactly how newspapers are printed. I kept getting left behind while taking photos and videos though…

We leave Germany tomorrow.  I look forward to reflecting on this trip to find how I’ve grown since leaving Pittsburgh.


Day 9 – CM


Today the group visited the BMW (“Bayern Motor Works” for those of you who don’t know) headquarters today, and learned about their plans for a sustainable future.  Having recently written an article on sustainability for Point Park’s The Pioneer, I appreciated this trip very much.  The lecture focused on the company’s advances in electric car technologies, and included a tour of the company’s museum.  I loved taking photographs of the bicycles and cars, as you can see below.  I enjoyed this visit much more than I expected (or at least, much more than the NASCAR museum), and will certainly look into American car companies’ plans for sustainability the next time I look to buy a car.  This may not be for a long time, but the discussion today piqued my interest.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Munich and Germany, and I hope it will be as enjoyable as the past 11!

Day 8 – CM



After an emotionally exhausting day yesterday we took a relaxing trip to Salzburg, Austria, home of Mozart and setting of The Sound Of Music.  The city is beautiful, and so are the Alps.  They reminded me of the Rockies in Colorado, the terrain is flat with rolling hills and then the mountains shoot straight up.


We took a walking tour of Salzburg including scenes from The Sound of Music and the home of Mozart.  The tour didn’t take long because the town is not very big.  Afterwards, the group broke off and a few of us went to a brewery that was founded by monks almost 400 years ago.  The visit was well worth the hike to find it.


Day 7 – CM



I don’t have much to say about today.  Seeing Dachau is an experience that is hard to relate to others, so the photos will have to suffice.  “If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera” – Lewis Hine

Day 6 – CM



Wake up call was at 4:30 this morning to head to Munich.  The plane ride was uneventful (thank god), and I was able to sleep through the entire trip.  Once in Munich, we took a brief tour of the city and saw a few monuments, then checked in at our hotel.  We took another mini tour on our walk to lunch, visiting a few churches, including the one where Pope Benedict XVI was bishop.


Munich is more like the Germany that a lot of Americans imagine, I think.  Although 85% of it was destroyed in World War II, according to our guide, it still has an old-timey look to it.  As opposed to Berlin, which is very modern.  I look forward to exploring this city more…and to dinner tonight, which will be at the self-proclaimed originator of the white sausage!

Day 4 – CM

5-15-16 (more photos will be added later – technical difficulties!)



Today has been my favorite day in Germany thus far.

We got an early start this morning to see the ZDF’s (a national German channel) morning show.  The hosts mixed right in with the crowd during the broadcast, as you can see below.  The man at the left, Wulf Schniese, a host of the show, was kind enough to speak with the group after the show.

Our second visit was to the Deutsche Presse Agentur, the fourth-largest news wire service in the world, which was the topic of a media report I wrote for this class earlier in the year.  After listening to the company’s Head of Corporate Communication and Chief Photographer speak to the group, I felt reassured that I would be able to find a job in photojournalism, and that the field will not be overtaken by bystanders with iphones.  My questions posed to professionals about the future of social media, photography and the internet usually are met with sarcasm and pessimism, but these men presented valid arguments and business models with a confidence that was refreshing.

Later, we visited the Reichstag.  I took lots and lots of photos (which will be posted later)!

Day 5 – CM



Today we visited Axel Springer, a media company in Berlin that not only produces media but trains journalists at the Axel Springer Academy.  The group met students from the program, and an editor of one of Axel Springer’s papers Die Welt.  I enjoyed learning about this paper because as opposed to trying to keep papers in print, Die Welt is embracing technology and having success with digital circulation.  It will be interesting to see how Die Welt continues to adapt to new technologies, and if other papers will follow their lead.


Tomorrow we leave for Munich.  It’s been gnarly Berlin! I’ll be back again someday.

Day 3 – CM


We spent a lot of time on the subway today.  A little bit of a pain, but well worth the reward of what we saw.

We woke up early to go see the East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall left standing that artists painted over.  It seems they are somewhat frequently updated, some pieces were dated as recent as 2009.  There may have been newer paintings, but unfortunately we did not have time to view the entire wall.




The above image is one of my favorites from the trip thus far.





After a quick lunch and little bit of tricky navigating, we found our way back to the hotel in time to go to our media visit of the day, the Deutsche Welle, an international multimedia news organization.










We toured DW’s headquarters, including the broadcast sets and control rooms.



Although I don’t know much about broadcasting, I thoroughly enjoyed touring DW.  I’ve never seen how broadcast journalism actually works before.

I will try to rest tonight…Tomorrow, we visit the media outlet that I will be covering, the Deutsche Presse Agentur.