How Fine Art Architectural Photography Saved My Life

I think it’s time to finally write and publish this very personal blog post.
That I enjoy fine art architectural photography is probably clear to anyone who knows me. This homepage is my business card for my work as an architectural and real estate photographer. Still, fine art architectural photography means so much to me that I created a subpage for it here.
Sure – somehow it’s a related kind of photography. Both have architecture or buildings and urban elements as integral pictorial content.

Differences between real estate photography and fine art architectural photography

Nevertheless, in my opinion, both genres differ fundamentally in one aspect:
In architectural and real estate photography, there is always an economic aspect in the foreground. I take the pictures of interiors, houses and apartments because someone commissioned me to do so. Someone who wants to rent or sell a property. Due to this economic aspect – logically – certain guidelines have to be followed. My real estate photos must reflect the realistic impression of a residential or commercial property. These recordings are then used in exposés to address potential interested parties in a short time. I love my work as a real estate photographer because this kind of targeted work is a fundamental part of the value chain. It gives me the opportunity to see many different living spaces and capture them in pictures. Since I love architecture, design and interior design and can combine these personal interests with my greatest passion – photography – I consider myself extremely lucky. I switched careers from packaging engineer/designer to photographer in 2016 for good reason. Photography was – and still is – exactly what drives my engine and I love every aspect of it. Before I ramble on…here are the differences with fine art architectural photography:
If I photograph for my fine art portfolio, then I work for myself. I work without an order. I work because I want to. I photograph what I want. Behind my fine art photography are (to date) no financial or economic interests. I see this kind of photography for me personally as a balance and logical balance to the purposeful work in the context of orders as a real estate photographer. Likewise, fine art photography is my lifesaver and vital to my survival – but more on that later. These two genres are the ideal and perfect balance for me, allowing me to live out my passion both as a photographer and as an artist.
In the long run, or as the next logical step, I would also like to work as a fine art photographer on a commission or commission basis. Then the balance of my economic existence would be perfect and complete.

How Fine Art Architectural Photography Saved My Life

It would be too trivial to leave it all like that, so I would like to explain these sentences in more detail: What few people know about me is that I had a burnout in 2015. To put it bluntly, my body; in particular my head, has applied the emergency brake. At that time, I was still working as a packaging engineer and packaging designer. I worked an average of 14 hours a day, traveled a lot, and sometimes didn’t know where I was when I woke up in the morning. I have moved 7 times in 11 years. My diet was miserable (as was my alcohol consumption), I was under constant stress, permanently in a bad mood and unhappy deep down. Due to the constant stress I had for more than 10 years at a time, I had completely forgotten how to listen to myself. Rather, I had completely forgotten how to understand myself. I was in a transformation of myself that was going in a direction that was harmful to me. I was successful in my job, the salary was right and on the surface everything seemed perfect. Nevertheless, in hindsight, I can say that (metaphorically speaking) this plant grew on rotten ground. In retrospect, my breakdown was a logical and inevitable consequence of my lifestyle. A consequence of what I did and – above all – of what I did not do.
Even when I was still in my professional life as an engineer, I had my camera with me on all business trips. Capturing and exploring strange, new places with my camera was extremely important to me. It put me in a state where I could forget everything that was not good for me. At least for a short moment. Likewise, at that time I had already worked part-time as a photographer and photographed weddings and apartments here and there. Somehow it seems (in retrospect) that I had the solution right under my nose at the time. However, the swirl of mettings, stress, travel, company politics, etc. took away my rational, logical view. At the same time, I was blind to myself and my own needs. And of course, there was the financial dependence on my well-paid job….

The burnout…yeah…what can I say….

I am very open about it, even though it makes me vulnerable. However, I would like to emphasize the following: I am infinitely grateful that I had a burnout. Without this emergency brake, I would probably still be in my old job right now, I would be unhappy, and I would not be earning a living with my greatest passion. The bottom line is that I now feel stronger, more content, happier and more fulfilled than I ever have in my life. I needed this complete standstill to reorganize my life. Likewise, to finally make the decision to devote the rest of my life to photography.
At the same time, I know very well that an alarming number of people currently live an extremely unhealthy life, just as I did back then. The number of burnouts is increasing rapidly. The working world is getting harder and more stressful. At the same time, life is getting sadder because of the current political situation. If you don’t do what you love, or what you stand behind 100%, then at some point you’re going to have a problem. In my job as an architectural and real estate photographer, I (apparently) also have “stress”. I have deadlines, shoots that need to be done in the shortest amount of time, I have to do my accounting, my advertising and actually everything on my own because I’m self-employed. But here’s the serious difference: For me, none of this is stress. I feel all this is part of the dream I am living. I currently work up to 16 hours a day in some phases. However – since I’m doing what I love most – it doesn’t feel like “work” or a “job” to me. Rather, it is the living out and realization of my vocation.

Thank you Burnout!

I am infinitely grateful and happy that I lived through this physical and psychological emergency brake. However, the burn out itself was anything but a walk in the park at the beginning. I consider him to be a stern teacher who – if taken seriously – holds much wisdom.
I know – for everyone this condition manifests itself in a different way. That is why I can only briefly describe my experience here. My experiences and how my camera and a Dutch photographer turned out to be lifesavers.
I don’t want to dramatize it – so briefly described: The transformation from the state “functional worker bee” to “not capable of anything” took me only a few days. I was suddenly unable to do anything. I was sad. Infinitely sad. Nothing made sense anymore. I could no longer eat properly, my breathing was permanently stopped. I had a permanent headache. My nose was stuffy all day and I had heart arrhythmias. I was afraid to go out on the street. I could no longer ride the bus or train because I was afraid of people in confined spaces. Going shopping was impossible. Actually, I just wanted to sit at home and do nothing. I had no more energy for anything. Everyone and everything and even myself were strangers to me. It is extremely difficult to describe this state with words.

The day clinic

After 2 months of waiting, I was fortunately able to go to a day hospital for 4 months where patients with burnout were treated. At the clinic, the program included things like gardening, music therapy, art therapy and, of course, lots of group and individual sessions. It was precisely thanks to this time that I felt my creative energy re-enter my life in extremely large spurts. In art therapy, I painted abstract oil paintings (finally again after many years); in music therapy, I finally played guitar again; and in gardening, I finally got grounded again – literally. I was also very lucky with the therapist who took care of me – more about her later…
At the same time, the clinic gave me a structured daily routine.
The clinic gave me a jump start, so to speak, in the form of various therapies and occupations.

The way out

My life at that time was either at home or in the clinic. Nothing in between. At some point, however, I felt the desire to photograph. The problem: I have to go outside to do this. At some point, the desire to take pictures was great enough that I was able to overcome my fear of going outside. I photographed buildings, flowers, nature and all sorts of things and was amazed that my fear was secondary as soon as it came to photography. The photos I took, I then edited at home and started to learn something again and actively educate myself in something. For a while this was a great support and a help to see a little progress in me. However, my pictures were always too “meaningless” and too meaningless for me. Somehow I was still unhappy

learn to read…

At some point I came across photos on the Internet by Dutch photographer Joel Tjintjelaar. He is virtually one of the founders of black and white fine art architectural photography. When I saw his pictures, something happened in my head. His paintings transported me to another world. Into a dream world. The weightless atmosphere, the manifestation of beauty and elegance had a depth that I had never seen before. His pictures spoke to me, so to speak. It was a magical moment that I could write about for hours. It was his images that put the following in my head at the time: Someday – no matter when – I want to be able to create something like that myself. I want to create such images from a content and an aesthetic level. I want to create dream worlds. I want to manifest things through my images. I would like to give thought-provoking impulses through my pictures. In short: I suddenly had a task. A task that my inner voice and my true “I” made for myself.
However, this meant a lot of work. Not just work in the sense of “learning”. No – it meant, in my particular case, that I first had to relearn how to learn in the first place….


First tests

One effect of my burnout that I had not yet mentioned was that I could no longer read. So – well…I could still read, but I couldn’t repeat what I had read after I had read it. So if I wanted to learn something again, it meant that I had to reacquire basic skills that I had lost through the burn out. Figuratively speaking, I have worked on myself through Joel Tjintjelaar to live a normal life again. I read a lot, I went outside more often again I learned more with and about my camera – especially in the area of long exposure.
By the way, here is one of the first serious attempts with ND filters that I made after the clinic in Charlottenburg:

bridge in berlin castle park


I learned Photoshop and I educated myself about architecture. I suddenly had a serious task again and a goal to work towards. Finally feeling a fire again, a drive was magical. I owe both photography, the clinic and Joel Tjintjelaar for getting me back on my feet. However – and this is extremely important – I also owe it to myself: I finally listened to myself and my inner voice again.
As already mentioned, I was very lucky with the therapist in charge of me at the day clinic. As a thank you and parting gift, I printed her a photo on which I had applied my newly acquired long exposure skills. With a flashlight I wrote “Thank you Mrs. Göhler” in the air

lightpainting with a flashlight

In the following years I improved all my photographic skills. My personality became more and more solid. As mentioned before – I am happier, more content and more balanced than I have ever been in my life. However – and this is the interesting thing, which is also related to my burnout: Once you’ve had a burnout, you have to actively fight it every day until the end of your life. You have to do something for yourself – and that’s different for everyone. In my case it is actually the black and white fine art architecture photography.
By the way, besides real estate photography and fine art architecture photography, I have another site as a wedding and portrait photographer – HERE
you can go to it.

Fine art architectural photography for my peace of mind

Leaving the house to take photos for my fine art portfolio always means spending a lot of time outdoors. I will walk a lot and be in the fresh air. I will pause where most people – caught up in the daily grind – carelessly run past. I will attentively explore different angles. I accept according to Forest Gump: “life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get”. In plain language: I might not come home with a usable photo at all. But that would be ok – I was outside, moved around, learned something about my camera if necessary and collected new impressions. Or maybe I’ll come home with some great material that I’ll spend a painstakingly long time developing.
These facets alone make fine art photography extremely valuable to me.

However, there is much more…

I currently distinguish my images and motivations for certain motifs between “celebration”, “manifestation”, “transformation”.


“Celebrate” for me are the images in which – as the headline says – I celebrate exactly what I see. These are always motifs I look forward to. They are motifs for which I take a journey. They are motifs of places that I do not yet know or to which I do not yet have an emotional attachment. Most often, these images are exactly the ones that exude a certain lightness. They are light, as I feel only pure joy here. Likewise, anticipation and enthusiasm also resonate in these images. I usually find out in advance about the buildings, the architects and suitable angles. “Celebrate” to me is emblematic of my exuberant joy in discovering a new place. Inspiration at every turn. A pedometer that goes towards 30,000 at the end of a day. Physical and mental expenditure and satisfaction. The first feeling of a new place, a new culture and impressions that will stay with me for a lifetime.
Example of “celebrating” is my trip earlier this year to Doha. I was booked there as a real estate photographer for a 3-day assignment. To the 3 days I had added an extra day that I wanted to dedicate to black and white fine art architectural photography. In advance I informed myself about suitable spots, buildings and was full of anticipation. I believe that this joy and lightness is also reflected in my paintings:

black and white fine art photo of a skyscraper in doha

What was a twist of fate, however, was that on this day of all days, when I was taking fine art photos, I happened to run into Joel Tjintjelaar (yes…that’s right…my lifesavers – reading teachers). It was absurd. I fell to my knees and screamed “oh my god…are you Joel Tjintjelaar?!?!” and he “yes…I am Joel Tjintjelaar”….

We spent the rest of the day together – he took me to the top of a skyscraper he had access to. In the evening he came to me in Lusail, where I gave him access to one of the apartments from where he could photograph the skyline from the 18th floor. I don’t have to explain further that this chance meeting means the world to me. That was – due to my previous history – by far one of the most beautiful days of my life. Here is a photo of me with the Grand Master

joel tjintjelaar and tobias trumpp in doha


The images under this heading are those in which I deliberately highlight a building, or an element. However, the selection for what I consider important is not done arbitrarily. I must have an honest and sincere reason for doing so. There must be a need for me internally. My pictures are always honest and I invest my time only when I stand 100% behind a picture and its message. Likewise, the selection is by no means based on an aesthetic reason. With these images, I want viewers to ask themselves “did I always miss that…?”.
Manifestation can – according to my definition – also be achieved by changing the point of view. Many people who run from A to B under stress tend to look at the ground or straight ahead. Often the view upwards escapes them.
The latest example of from my portfolio is the picture of the bridge in the government district. The bridge is so prominent and dominant. However, it is surrounded by other prominent and dominant objects. For this reason (and also for the functional reason) I felt the need to present this great object once as a “superstar”.

bridge in berlin government district


These images are the “heaviest” images from my portfolio. Images with many personal statements, messages, experiences and emotions. These pictures are from places I personally associate a lot with. However, these by no means have to be negatively charged.
They are images where I am in a trance-like state both while photographing and developing. I don’t think so anymore. I only feel. I bring out old emotions and let them flow into the respective picture. After completing such a painting, I feel the greatest form of satisfaction. Either a great burden was worked through or I relived beautiful memories. In the end, there is a creative creature that has been shaped and created by my personal experiences. It is precisely these images that always bring myself back to life.
One of the most recent and personal examples is the picture I took of the Marco Polo Tower in Hamburg.
The story behind it is that I worked in the building next door for 2 years. I had the tower right outside my window. From there it was static and dreary. It often blocked daylight and darkened my office. I wanted to clean up my impression of this tower with this picture. I wanted to make it look dynamic, bright. Located right on the water, I often had wanderlust daydreams in the office. So I chose my angle so that the canopy of the neighboring house resembled a wave. The dynamic Marco Polo Tower is now riding away on it. He has changed. I have changed.


the importance of fine art architectural photography in my life

Black and white fine art architectural photography is more than just a hobby for me.
Fine art architectural photography is a calling.
She is my best friend.
My outlet, my muse, my inspiration, my voice.
I would not be happy without them.

This is the longest and most personal post I have ever published to date. But it was a great need for me.
A need because I know that a lot of people currently feel the same as I did shortly before my burnout.
A need to show that there may be a way out despite the current hopelessness.
A need to show that even nowadays you can talk openly about feelings.
Likewise, I personally find it important that you know all this about me – maybe now some of my fine art architectural photography – images make sense…?
Anyway – if you have read this far – feel hugged!

Thank you so much for reading everything down to here.
I look forward to hearing or reading from you