Berlin After Dusk: A bike tour from literature to photography

Working as a self-employed publishing sales rep in the early 90’s, Detlef Bluhm visited many bookshops in the former GDR. On his travels, during those turbulent years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he started to use his camera as a personal notebook by photographing the shop fronts of the visited bookshops. The photos ended up in his files and had been forgotten for many years. Now we can be glad that Detlef Bluhm made those pictures, showing us images of a society that has rapidly disappeared. Last summer it resulted in the exhibition »Leseland im Umbruch« in Schloss Reinberg’s Coach House. From April 15th until May 17th 2019 the photos will be exhibited in the Library of Potsdam, near Berlin.


As mentioned, Detlef Bluhm wasn’t a professional photographer in those days. By the time photography became more than a hobby to him, he already had made a career as an author and publisher. And in those roles he had been working on many books about Berlin. So it can’t come as a surprise, that his first photobook »Berlin im Glanz der Nacht«  (Berlin After Dusk) puts the spotlight on the German capital.



Literally. As all photos were made after dark. Night can add character to a place that wouldn’t even be noticed after daybreak. A couple of years ago Detlef Bluhm photographed the small village off Sandberg and shortly after that the mayor of nearby Gersfeld  commissioned him to document his town in the same manner. The idea came during a night walk, when barns and stables seemed to have an almost ominous presence, that couldn’t be felt at daytime. Those inconspicuous places, have their special attraction in the dark of night. After the Gersfeld series it only seemed obvious to Detlef Bluhm to dedicate a book to his hometown Berlin by applying the same approach. So he started to roam the city at night on his bicycle. Twenty months he worked on this book and exhibiton. The photos do not only show us the icons and well-known sites of Berlin in an unusual light or from a new perspective, some also give us access to places that usually are out of bounds at night.


For »Berlin im Glanz der Nacht« Detlef Bluhm used a Fuji GFX. He’s very happy with the camera, but gradually it became clear to him, that some scenes and perspectives couldn’t be shot in the way he intended to. Enter the Cambo Actus. A view camera small enough to accompany him on his bike tours through the city and a welcome addition to his photographic abilities. He was pleasantly surprised to see how using the Actus gave him more technical possibilities and creative freedom. “In my new photographic project (the book will be published spring 2020) I’ll use the Cambo Actus-GFX even more frequently, as it will be all about architecture.”



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