“We live in fast moving times.” Starting out in photography in the 1980’s, Berlin-based Jürgen Held tells us his notion on the role of photography today alongside showcasing his art and city through beautifully compositional images.

Illustrating his home city and further, Jürgen Held breathes life and color into urban landscapes with his effortless angles, clean lines and ordered aesthetic. Among beautifully lit images are the stories of the city dwellers caught through his lens and the history of the architecture they wonder in front of. We chatted to Held to discuss what he sees as the role of photography after over 20 years in the profession and what the inspirations behind his work are.

Meet this week’s contributor – established Berlin photographer, Jürgen Held.

IMAGO / Jürgen Held
Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Held

Let’s kick off, how did you get started in photography and why? 

I started in professional photography back in 1984, working as a freelance press photographer at WAZ.  In the 80’s I studied photography in FH Dortmund ( Dipl.Des. In 1988) and since 1991 I have been working as a freelance international Stock Photographer with various partner agencies. In 2003, I founded my own stock agency www.travelstock44.de and continue now to work freelance from Berlin focusing on subjects including architecture, creative, press photography, hotel-photography, panoramic images and travel. 

I was always fascinated by the medium of photography. Ernst Haas, Andreas Feininger, Albert Watson, Peter Lindbergh,Steve McCurry, Martin Parr, Robert Lebeck , Hans-Jürgen Burkhard and other Bilderberg-photographers were great inspirations.

IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image
Photo: IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image
IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image
Photo: IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image

What was your first experience with a camera? 

I started with a Minolta SLR and black & white Film (Tri-X-Pan) and my own darkroom. Later Linhof 6x17and Widelux for panoramic views, Pentax67, a long time Canon and in the end switched to Sony for compact travel equipment.

What five words describe your photographic style or captured message? 

Creative, impressive , global, newsworthy & up-to-date (editorial photos)

What one important lesson has your work taught you? 

We live in fast moving times. If you want to make a living with photography you have to constantly adapt to changing market conditions. Be patient and develop your own style.

"Be patient and develop your own style."

IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image
Photo: IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image
IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image
Photo: IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image

What is the best element about being a photographer, and most challenging? 

The best element of being a (stock) photographer is independence. You discover the world through your photographic lens and interpret it through your artistic point of view. 

“Robert Doisneau, a photographer who has captured a picture from a wonderful moment, a random pose of someone or a beautiful landscape is the discoverer of a treasure.” 

The biggest challenge is to make a living with increasing competition and dropping royalties  .

IMAGO / Jürgen Held
Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Held
IMAGO / Jürgen Held
Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Held

To you, what is the role photography has in the world? 

Photography is still an important medium because photography;

  • Preserves memories of important moments
  • Helps to discover the world and to connect people
  • Inspires you to travel
  • Can tell you stories about life
  • Can be an expression of creativity and art
  • Informs us of what is happening around the world 
IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image
Photo: IMAGO / Travel-Stock-Image

What is currently really getting you frustrated or annoyed?

Dumping prices for stock photography, unfair splitting (Imago is fair with 50:50), others down to 15%. Restrictions in travelling because of the Covid19-Pandemic.

If you could photograph any historical event, what would it be and why? 

The fall of the Berlin Wall as it is one of the most significant events in the recent history of Germany. I moved to Berlin in 2001 and unfortunately I missed the fall.

What does success look like to you? 

Any published photo is a little success. A satisfied customer is also an success.

What’s your go to album to listen to when you’re working right now?

Manu Chao Casa Babylon & Prince Sign O´ The Times

Jürgen Held is a Berlin-based freelance photographer, specializing in architecture, cityscape, stock and editorial photography. Browse his photography with IMAGO under both his own name and via Travel-Stock-Image

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