Visiting one of the oldest pilgrimage chapels Sebastian Beck documents 1,300 years of history with a Leica Q

Born in Munich, Germany, Sebastian Beck earns his living as an editor and reporter for the acclaimed Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich’s largest and best-known newspaper that enjoys nationwide distribution and an international reputation. Here, he shares a series of images taken with the Leica Q in the town of Altoetting, Bavaria, documenting one of the oldest pilgrimage chapels.

I took these photos between November 2015 and August 2016 in the pilgrimage town Altoetting, Bavaria. I exclusively used the Leica Q for it, because it works in low light, has an almost perfect color balance and is totally silent. This is a precondition for working in a place like that. The sound of a shutter would attract the attention of the people und destroy the scenery.

Altoetting is the spiritual heart of catholic Bavaria. The small chapel in the center of the town was erected around the year 700 – so it is 1300 years old and one of the oldest buildings in Bavaria. The chapel also houses silver urns immortalizing the hearts of Bavarian kings and prince-electors. Altötting is only 70 kilometers in the east of Munich, but it seems to be on another planet. I was always dreaming of documenting buddhist spirituality in Bhutan. By instance I made a stop in Altötting in August 2015  – the first time after many many years. I was absolutely fascinated by the scenery, but unfortunately cameras are not allowed in the sanctuary, so I took some pictures secretly…For weeks later I got me a permission by the diocese and started a long term photo project. For me it was like rediscovering the the myths of my childhood. I found out, that you don’t need to travel to Bhutan to document spirituality. Sometimes you just have to make a step backwards and look at your home with the eyes of a stranger. 

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  • Not every photo project requires travel to the ends of the earth. I am glad you found something that struck a chord with you close to home. Since leaving the newspaper biz, I have sought to document the small town I now live in. It, like your spirituality effort, has been a challenge but I am hoping these shots will continue to inspire me.

  • Simply Stunning reminds me Nils Thune another Leica q very spiritual photographer!

  • Great photographs and very interesting moments covered. Being from Germany as well I heard the city’s name but actually didn’t knew what happens there and how important this place is. Well done, hope to see more of this style in the future!

  • In einer Welt, in der Enthüllung mehr zählt als Offenbarung, Gaffen mehr als Schauen, braucht es solche Bilder, die nicht nur gesehen werden, sondern in die Tiefe führen, die nicht nur aufzeigen, sondern auch verbergen.

  • Lovely atmospheric scenes that capture the essence and moody of the place… peaceful and seemingly out of this world and time…

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