Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
This shot took me about 4 minutes to get. There was a girl posing like an idiot while her boyfriend laid on his back shooting her. How are you not embarrassed to take those pictures? And that is some whipped boyfriend to put up with that.

Photos of Berlin

A couple days ago I posted about how I was having a hard time framing photos in Berlin.  It wasn’t that the scenes weren’t pretty damn cool, it was just that there were cranes sticking out of every corner of the city, adding distracting elements to every photo.  But, well Berlin might be “under construction”, once you get past the cranes and learn to accept them, the city is actually quite photogenic.  I was on some of my best behavior in Berlin.  Unlike Amsterdam where I was a bit of a bad travel photographer who let a bit of rain and wind deter me from getting out and shooting, in Berlin I was out shooting photos constantly.  

I focused my photography of three places: the Berlin Cathedral, Mauer Park and Flea Market, and the Brandenburg Gates.  But, I also got some shots of other parts of Berlin in there as well.  

Here’s the story, and photos from my time in Berlin.

Berlin Cathedral

“Damn cranes,” I spit as I stare through the viewfinder of my camera. “They are everywhere. Worse than tourists; at least tourists get out of your shot if you yell at them.”

I stare blankly towards a skyline of cranes stacked upon cranes. One after another, they pierce the sky like pillars of steel forest in the heart of an urban jungle. They stretch their arms into nearly every photo I attempt to frame and every view I attempt to be awed by. Sure it’s cool, just like the 4 billion hipsters who have visited this city before me have said, but Berlin is under construction.

Berlin Cathedral
The first place I wanted to shoot was the Berlin Cathedral. It’s a great building, but it’s a bit of a challenge to shoot. On the river side, they don’t light it up and it can be a bit dark. I used the traffic from the road to add some depth and colour to the image instead.
Berlin Photos, Dome
Another shot of the Berlin Cathedral. I have been shooting too much HDR in Europe, but I think this one is done the right way. I love the bike, the street light, everything.
Berlin Cathedral
When crossing the tunnel to photography the “Dome” from the other side of the road, I saw this scene. Sometimes, it’s not what you expect to be shooting.
Bubble maker, Berlin
My favourite photo from Berlin because it shows all my favourite sides of the city: architecture, alternative people, and a little bit of imagination.

Mauer Park

Among the travel community, people speak so highly of Berlin.  In fact, it’s the European base for many on the continent, and it’s easy to see why.  When you look beyond the cranes, there is a nice calm vibe to the city.  Nothing really seems rushed here, aside from the ambulances which may have the loudest speakers I’ve ever heard, and the cyclists that refuse to use the roads.

For a travel photographer with just 4 days, like myself, I was impressed by the scenes of the city.  I found classed culture on museum island and near the Brandenburg Gate.  But there was also a strong human aspect to the scenes in places like Mauer Park and the old airport. But of course, in every scene there is a crane.  And within any earshot there is a jackhammer smashing away at the cement.  Along any road, there is a barrier forcing you to choose a new sidewalk.

Cameras, Berlin
Inside Mauer Park Flea Market there were lots of old cameras and Polaroids. It’s a good thing I didn’t have any money with me or I would have left with one of these.
Mauer Park, Berlin
Back in Mauer Park, this is my second favourite photo from Berlin. I love how you can just sit there and pick at the faces from the crowd.
Bubbles, Berlin
Last photo from Mauer Park. I love this photo and the composition, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t about 20% talent and 80% luck and good timing.

Brandenburg Gate

There’s such diversity in Berlin too.  In the museum quarter, tourists with cameras slung casually over their shoulders.  At the train station, business men and women pace quickly with briefcases in their hands.  In the parks, hippies sit and strum acoustic guitars they don’t know how to play, hipsters sit circled in deep conversation, and a man wearing a scuba outfit from the 60s chews on a hotdog. 

The architecture too is varied, and not even from on area to the next.  A perfectly modern building can stand side by side with a derelict building that hasn’t seen repairs since the fall of the wall.  I guess that’s where the construction comes in.

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
This shot took me about 4 minutes to get. There was a girl posing like an idiot while her boyfriend laid on his back shooting her. How are you not embarrassed to take those pictures? And that is some whipped boyfriend to put up with that.
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
The Brandenburg Gate was packed with iPhone wielding tourists when I got there. The last time I was in Europe, if I was shooting my DSLR people would respect me and get out of my shot. Nowadays, with so many DSLRs, people act as if I’m anyone else, and stand right in my shot. It was hard to frame a good image. I decided to make this bike cart a part of my image.
This was easily the best light I got in Berlin. You’ll never hear a photographer complain about clouds and really, these were the only decent clouds I got the whole time I was there. The shot is worth all the bland skies though!

The Berlin Wall

Over at checkpoint Charlie, one of the classic spots on the Berlin Wall, there’s some beautiful street art that makes for a decent photography subject. I walked up and down the length of the Berlin wall for ages, just exploring. I loved it.

Berlin Photos, belin wall
I had mixed feelings about the Berlin Wall. It was amazing, but I found myself extremely annoyed with the amount of graffiti and random pen scribbling on the wall. Don’t they enforce that as vandalism??? All the John + Jane = Love pissed me off. No, John and Jane, you are not cute, you’re bastards.
Berlin Wall, Berlin
Another shot from the Berlin Wall. I took quite a few photos there, but then again, who hasn’t.

Visiting Berlin for Photography

Berlin is a very photogenic city. And while some places are walking distance from each other, the city is actually really spread out. Get a good feeling for the public transit system. It is a good system and will help you get around fairly easily.

For accommodation, try to stay close to the museum island. I feel like you have the highest density of photography locations in that area.