Seconds2Real: The Formation of a Collective

Guido Steenkamp is a member of the street photography collective Seconds2Real. Beginning initially as a Flickr group aimed at promoting street photography in both Germany and Austria, it has since grown from an online organization to a real-life collective with the first exhibition to be opened on October 14th in Berlin. Guido Steenkamp shares more about the collective from its beginnings to what is planned in our interview with him.

Q: When was the Seconds2Real collective formed? Who came up with the idea for the collective or how did it get initiated?

A: Seconds2Real actually started as a simple Street Photography Flickr group created by Ronny Künniger in 2007. After some time the most active members decided to set up Seconds2Real as real-life Street Photographers collective. It was in 2008 when we first met in person in Vienna. Since then we gather once or twice a year, each time in a different city. I guess what differentiates Seconds2Real  the most is the fact that it is not just another online project. We help motivate, criticize, and value each other constantly. It’s a close family of like-minded individuals. The following photographers are members of Seconds2Real:

Alex Magedler – Vienna, Austria
Andreas Stelter – Minden, Germany
Christian Reister – Berlin, Germany
Elisabeth Schuh – Vienna, Austria
Friedrich Schiller – Vienna, Austria
Guido Steenkamp – Berlin, Germany
Heiko Menze – Vienna, Austria
Kay von Aspern – Vienna, Austria
Mario Cuic – Munich, Germany
Natalie Opocensky – Vienna, Austria
Ronny Künniger – Augsburg, Germany
Siegfried Hansen – Hamburg, Germany
Thorsten Strasas – Berlin, Germany

Q: What’s the main goal of the collective?

A: The otherwise rather neglected Street Photography has evolved in recent years, but mainly in the anglo-american world. Seconds2real’s focus is therefore on promoting Street Photography from our home countries, Germany and Austria.

Q: What’s your role in the collective?

A: Actually we do not have a clear division of responsibilities at Seconds2Real. We are a equal group where everyone does what they do best. Some are specialized in printing, others in doing public relations or in organizing events. Because it’s close to what I do in my day-time job, I take care of our website as well as of our social media activities.

Q: What are the main characteristics of the collective’s members?

A: One of the main characteristics is – of course – the passion for Street Photography. But beyond that, the collective  has a wide range of photographic styles, from classic black and white to modern street shots in colour. Photographic diversity is one of the strengths of Seconds2Real, and as a result our members must be very open-minded about other styles.

Q: What are some of the projects and activities that have come out of Seconds2Real?

A: Most of our members exhibitions and publications are individual and therefore not organzied by the group. However a group exhibition always was something we wanted to do. We are delighted to present our first group exhibition “fascination street” in Berlin this October. As the participating photographers work very differently, I think this exhibition will very well show how many facets contemporary street photography does have. Next year we will show “fascination street” in Vienna. Other cities are being considered too.

Q: If someone is interested in joining the collective, what’s your advice for them?

A: Well, we do not aim to be the biggest “street photographers club” or something like that. We are far more interested in establishing a stable community of street photographers that are willing to work hard on joint projects. For this of course, the chemistry between the photographers has to be right. If in doubt, this point goes to the photographic skills.

A geographically distributed organization like ours only works if we keep the number of photographers to a manageable size. We are therefore very cautious when it comes to adding new members, but are not completely closed. At the end of the year there will be probably a new group member joining Seconds2Real.

Q: What’s the collective’s relationship with Leica?

Street Photography in general has been dominated by Leica photographers the last couple of decades. This has not changed with today’s Leica M9, which is generally considered as the gold standard for digital street photography tools.

Together, with the cameras high responsiveness and small size, it’s actually the rangefinder system itself that sets the Leica apart from other cameras and makes it particularly suitable for our type of Street Photography. With rangefinder cameras the clear view of the subject remains even during exposure and guarantees extremely fast and precise focusing. You don’t get this from any of the omnipresent SLR cameras. It is therefore not surprising that most of the Seconds2Real photographers are using digital or analog Leica Rangefinder cameras for their work.

Personally I use a 25-year-old Leica M6 most of the time and for colour work the M9, both with the Summicron 35mm ASPH lens.

Q: Can you share more information about the street photography exhibition in Berlin this month. Where will it take place?

MEINBLAU Kunsthaus
Christinenstrasse 18/Schönhauser Allee 176
10119 Berlin
Germany

Q: How long will it be available to see?

A: The exhibition, which is solely sponsored by Seconds2Real. will be shown from 15th October until 30th October 2011 (admission free).  The opening is on 14th October 2011 at 7 pm (admission free).

Q: What do you want people to know about the exhibition?

A: Seconds2Real, a co-operative of thirteen passionate Austrian and German street photographers are going to be hosting an exhibition titled: “Fascination Street”, their first group exhibition of contemporary Street Photography. Seconds2Real will be showing more than 120 Street Photography prints at the unique Meinblau Gallery in Beriln. This event will be a very comprehensive exhibition devoted to Street Photography from German speaking countries.

Q: How were the photos selected for the exhibition?

A: Seconds2Real members live in different cities, some in Germany, some in Austria. It happens only once or twice a year that we meet in person. Therefore more of the editing is done via the internet. We use an internal forum for discussions, Dropbox to manage and edit our picture pool, Skype whenever something needs to be clarified short-term and Doodle to vote on images. In fact, an organization like Seconds2Real would be inconceivable without the Internet.

Q: What can people look forward to from Seconds2Real in the future?

A: As already mentioned above, besides our current show in Berlin, we are planning to show “fascination street” 2012 in Vienna and probably in some other cities too. Besides that we also working on a book of contemporary Street Photography from Germany and Austria. We hope to have the book published in 2012.

Guido Steenkamp, thank you very much!

-Leica Internet Team

For more on Seconds2Real please visit the website: http://www.seconds2real.com, and connect with them on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seconds2Real/49399813432 and Twitter http://twitter.com/seconds2real.