‘I rescued my old 500CM from its cobwebs and took it with me to try the new CFV-50c digital back. It was such a great moment – exactly the same feeling I had ten years ago when I was last shooting analogue.’ – Peter Boettcher
Leading German music photographer Peter Boettcher has a deeper insight on this enigmatic group than most, as he has been photographing Kraftwerk at concerts and in their secretive Kling Klang Studio in Dusseldorf for over twenty years.
This notoriously reclusive band who famously refuse to accept visitors and mail and despise any kind of noise pollution, would completely remove ringers from their studio area telephones during recording sessions.
But Peter who has also worked with REM, Morrissey, Sonic Youth and Guns & Roses, was able to break down the barriers way back in 1991 when he was asked to do covers shots on Kraftwerk’s hugely successful remix album (The Mix).
He adds: “Nobody had ever taken pictures at their studio before so it was quite a frightening experience for me at that time – but I think I must have done a reasonable job because we have been working together ever since. And I can honestly say I really do love their music. Every concert – and my camera and I have now attended well over 200 – excites and inspires my work in a new way.”
Peter’s Kraftwerk photography never includes stereotypical rock band backstage shots; sweat-soaked pop stars or sobbing groupies. He uses reduced form and colour and his own individual perspective –all embraced in what he describes as a ‘most congenial’ way.
He notes: “I developed my own style and not what you would usually see from a band photographer. I am very direct, very straight, and very minimalistic. But this was always my style even before I met the band. Fortunately it syncs perfectly with the whole Kraftwerk ethos.”
When Peter was able to invest in a Hasselblad 500CM, it was still just the early days of his budding career. He says: “I adored that analogue Hasselblad but I have had it locked in a safe for the past ten years – until I discovered Hasselblad’s superb new CFV-50c digital back at photokina last November.
I rescued my old 500CM from its cobwebs and took it with me to try the new digital back. It was such a great moment – exactly the same feeling I had ten years ago when I was last shooting analogue.
The new back looks just like the old one I had for film. It feels the same too…it was just like a vivid flashback moment for me.”
Adds Peter: “I first tested it for real at the newly-opened $143 million Louis Vuitton Foundation building in Paris and then last month I was delighted to test it again at the latest Kraftwerk concert at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) in Berlin.”
He explains: “I used my new Hasselblad lenses at the Neue Nationalgalerie. Kraftwerk include 3D shows at their concerts, so alongside the obvious lighting challenges, it’s a tough shooting environment. But with the 6400 ISO capability on the CFV-50c I achieved superb results. It was like using the old camera and its excellent ergonomics but now with a very high-tech and very versatile digital back.
While Peter was covering the Kraftwerk concert he had a show of his own going on at the Pavlov’s Dog gallery in the German capital. Says Peter: “It was my MINIMUM MAXIMUM exhibition with some very large (3 metres high) images of the Kraftwerk robot project: the collaboration between man and machine. It was extremely successful; we had TV cameras there and extensive press coverage too.
Now I’m off with Kraftwerk again soon to Copenhagen and Barcelona – and the CFV-50c will be the first thing I will be packing.”