Till Brönner: Faces of Talent at photokina 2014

This series examines the photographers who exhibited at the Leica Galerie at photokina 2014. The focus of this year’s exhibition concept was on impressive photography from the world of music. It embraces all facets of music photography, and today we’re featuring Till Brönner. Brönner is not only one of the best and most successful jazz trumpet players of our time having been nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009 in the category of “Best Jazz Instrumental Solo” for his solo on “The Standard” by the legendary vocal ensemble Take 6, but he also has a special relationship with the visual arts. Since the moment he received his first Leica camera, he discovered a love of photography. He captures internationally famous musicians and actors from Beth Ditto to Armin Müller-Stahl, David Guetta to Gregory Porter. Here Till shares with us his passion for music and photography.

Till Brönner was born in Viersen in 1971. After receiving a classical training, he studied jazz trumpet at the Music School in Cologne. In addition to his international solo career, Brönner has been a Professor at the Dresden Music School since 2009. He lives in Berlin and Los Angeles.

Improvisation plays an important role in jazz – using the moment and being spontaneous. “This plan B is a central component,” Till Brönner explains. The trumpet player, singer and composer likes to set himself new challenges – and not only in music. He frequently reveals his spontaneous side in his photography. “The shorter the session, the better the result. That means either intense preparations or a reduction to the essential.” He focuses mainly on musicians or other artists that he encounters during his work playing jazz.

Mieze Katz of Mia © Till Broenner

Five pictures, ten at most – this is his approach to producing the black-and-white portraits, after a performance, during a joint interview, at a dinner. His love for photography arose when he was loaned a Digilux 3; but nowadays Brönner prefers to photograph with Leica R lenses, either on a full format body of his choice or on his Leica M. The camera has become a constant companion when he is on tour. He uses it to capture anything he finds important. “A frame, a face without too much stuff or hair around it, inevitably draws the glance to the eyes. Even so, you still need to be able to recognize the person. I prefer if it’s ‘recognition at a second glance’, in which case, so much the better.”

Q: What image is your favorite in this gallery and why?

A: I would never answer this question about my own work, because it would damage the mystery. People’s minds or eyes are very different from each other … Billie Holiday wrote a song saying “don’t explain, what’s the gain”.

David Guetta © Till Broenner

Q: How have music and photography influenced each other in your life and work? Meaning, what has music done to the way you see photography and vice versa?

A: I fell in love with music that was created on the spot – Jazz. You always have to be prepared for a change of plan. That’s very similar to photography. But after that it has to sit and rest in the drawer for a while until you listen again with fresh ears. If you still like it, chances are it’s good. Photography needs the same sort of spontaneity and impulse in the beginning while the decision for or against a picture in a book or magazine needs more time. So it feels natural to me to be doing both because the rules are similar.

Thank you for your time, Till!

– Leica Internet Team

See #DasWesentliche impressions from photokina here.

See more of Till’s photography at tillbroenner-photography.com and preview his limited edition book “Faces of Talent“. Check out his music at tillbroenner.com and his brand new album coming out today “The Movie Album“. You can also connect with him on Facebook and read the transcript of our Twitter chat with him here.

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