“Images that leave enough room for the viewer to interpret something into the image. Pictures that invite you to linger.” Silke Heyer: an Interview.

“Images that leave enough room for the viewer to interpret something into the image. Pictures that invite you to linger.” Silke Heyer: an Interview.

Established photographer, Silke Heyer talks to IMAGO about her journey into photography and her life that has evolved around it ever since. From developing films in the bathroom of her shared apartment, to marrying her two passions music and photography to how her hearing loss elevated her devotion to photography. Read her story in full with us here.

Photography. Almost everything in my life has to do with it. For me, photography means overcoming obstacles again and again. Without my camera I would not have done and experienced so many things. 

Since music has always been my world, I started photographing concerts after moving to Hamburg. Somewhere inside me since childhood I had the need not to miss anything and so I stood several times a week in front of a concert stage and it fascinated me to capture the artists and bands, the lights, the vibes of the music. 

Through concert photography, I got in touch with daily newspapers and started taking assignments for them.

IMAGO / Silke Heyer
Photo: IMAGO / Silke Heyer

I developed the films in the bathroom of my shared apartment and there the self-developed prints hung to dry. My flatmates were always very generous and tolerated my use of the bathroom without a murmur.  

Often I drove to the daily newspapers during the night to deliver the photos to the editorial offices. 

A concert of “The Chameleons” in the Hamburg market hall should be then for the time being my last. Already since my youth I had several hearing impairments and my hearing loss increased more and more over the years. Then, at the concert, I suffered a hearing loss due to the loud applause of the audience and left the hall almost deaf.

From then on, I had to protect the rest of my hearing from loud noise and thus I had to completely eliminate concerts from my world. So I looked for other stages to be able to take pictures.

IMAGO / Silke Heyer
Photo: IMAGO / Silke Heyer

I went to theaters, to the opera and to cabaret performances, which were shown for example in the Schmidts Tivoli or St. Pauli Theater. I also listened to the music of artists like Cora Frost, Tim Fischer or Georgette Dee in private and felt completely at home there as a lesbian on such evenings.

The theater and opera world was a completely new experience and quickly captivated me. They have fantastic sets and lighting effects that were exciting to capture. A colleague once said when I showed her a photo, “So? You can’t see that in the picture, should I put it underneath?”. That was her measure of quality and became mine as well.

My goal was to capture an image at every performance where you could see something happening between the performers. Images that leave enough room for the viewer to interpret something into the image. Pictures that invite you to linger. My hearing loss helps me to concentrate fully on the photography.

IMAGO / Silke Heyer
Photo: IMAGO / Silke Heyer

Over the years, I have always had changing focal points. It is exactly this variety that I still love today. It makes me feel like I can go through the whole variety of photography and that keeps it alive. 

Wedding photography is like theater photography, only without actors*. So many emotions and people in one day, you have to put your whole person into it and get in touch with the people, the better the pictures will be. 

Underwater photography – a new world under water. Impressive and fascinating and beautiful. I could go on photographing endlessly, because nature gives endless variations of motifs. Nature photography is so beautiful for me because I feel completely connected to nature in those moments. 

IMAGO / Silke Heyer
Photo: IMAGO / Silke Heyer

With all types of photography, knowing the subject helps you photograph good subjects. If you don’t know anything about surfing, you can’t even judge what is a special moment and a special achievement, for example, in a championship. 

The better you know your métier, the more precisely you know when the special moment comes. 

I have fallen in love with 360° virtual tours and the possibilities of 360° images. Finally you can show e.g. audience and stage in one photo at the same time. Walk through rooms, walk through distant museums or look around in other countries as if you were there.

My current cameras are Fuji because I love the ease and quality and the wide range of professional lenses. 

And my wife? Yes, I found her through photography, too, of course. 

IMAGO / Silke Heyer
Photo: IMAGO / Silke Heyer

Browse Silke‘s photography on IMAGO for all her latest photographs and musings.

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