Photographer In Focus: Arina Dähnick

Arina Dähnick is a Photographer Based in Berlin, Germany

I have known Arina for such a short time, yet it seems as though we have been friends forever. I met Arina when she opened her show at the Rangefinder Gallery (she was the show before mine in May and June). She has subsequently opened two additional shows in Chicago and is a photography force to watch.

Thank you Arina for taking time to share with RedDotBlueDot readers!

Five Foto Facts

First camera: Canon AE-1

Favorite camera: Leica M – right now Leica M10 with a Summilux 35mm

Photographer who has most inspired you: André Kertész

Favorite travel destination: My photographic eye follows an inner experience (for example of space) - where ever this happens. Right now in Chicago.

One place left on your travel bucket list:  Would to like to see more parts of America- perhaps this is will happen with one of my next projects ;-)

Photograph by: Arina Dähnick, Tugendhat House 20 Brno 2018

The Interview

RDBD: Tell me a little bit about yourself.  What do readers need to know about you to get to know you?  What is your personal, professional, and photography background?

A.D.: I am a photo artist active in the fields of fine arts and architecture, I live and work in Berlin. Having grown up in a creative family, I came into contact with art and photography at an early age.

My first professional photo exhibition was when I was only 17. In 1986, I resolved not to have to live from my art, this sparked a long pause in my output. The presentation of my work at the Leica Camera Blog 2014 was followed by countless exhibitions as well as publications in newspapers and magazines. I made a name for myself inside and outside Germany and gained a firm place in the international photography scene with my series Perfect Life, Contemporary Architecture Barcelona and The MIES-Project.

When I visit metropolises the world over, a legendary Leica M rangefinder camera (an unusual choice for architecture photography) is forever in my hand. I follow my photographic intuition, select the angle and distance, the light mood at different times of days and in different seasons, set the aperture, exposure and focus manually. I add nothing to the result and consistently forego any post-processing that might manipulate the images.

The key themes I address in my pictures are city life and urbanity, reflection and the experience of space, the diametrical opposites of inside and outside, of blurring and acute clarity. My photographic eye penetrates the outer facades in the search for the poetic qualities and mysteries of urban space. With my camera I grasp the soul of the architecture, and use color and lines to create an intimate, sensory experience of the spatial setting.

RDBD: What type of photography do you consider your primary genre and why? What does it mean to you?  How did you become focused on this area of photography?

A.D.: It is difficult to answer this question… André Kertész invited me to follow my own perception of reality. Trust yourself, be an Artist!

Henri Cartier-Bresson has taught me: Follow the moment and be prepared for it. (I love the Leica M.) I suspect, that this is street photography.

So I am a architecture photographer.

RDBD: Why Architecture?

A.D.: Mies just came to me... I followed and photographed them for many years, throughout different seasons and conditions.

It was his work which invited me to the open field of architecture and one day I decided to stay there...

RDBD: What motivates you as a photographer?  Specifically, why is photography important in your life?  When you are tired of shooting, what gets you out the door anyway?

A.D.: Keith, I would like to let you know about my current project, The MIES Project which is presented until the first of November at S.R.Crown Hall in Chicago.

(To get a sense of Arina’s motivation, she pointed me to the text discussing about the project that currently motivates her, The MIES Project. An excerpt is printed below.)

Thus, the MIES Project began. Toting a Leica M Body digital camera, she visited nine other Mies buildings in Berlin; Brno, Czech Republic; New York; and Chicago. Most are what Dähnick refers to as “legacy buildings,” instantly recognizable Mies works like the Seagram Building in New York or S. R. Crown Hall, though she featured Lemke House in Berlin, one of the architect’s most modest designs.

“What buildings to leave out and what to consider was not easy to decide,” says Dähnick. “I was interested in modern buildings starting from the Barcelona Pavilion and onward. Although they have different floor plans, different functions and locations I felt a very similar peace of mind and balance combined with a creative restlessness and an amazing freedom of the spirit being there. This is what I captured in.

Dähnick doesn’t seek to capture her subjects holistically or perfectly. Her “architectural portraits” are intimate, prioritizing the details of Mies’ works, and how different lighting and weather conditions interact with the buildings. (

RDBD: Please tell me why you chose the image to submit as your one image.  What meaning does the image have to you?

A.D.: I am often asked, “Which is your favorite photo of The MIES Project?” (Actually I love asking the visitors of my exhibitions myself the other way around.)

And to be honest – it changes and it depends on my personal feelings, situation. But, I chose one among others which I think are good. 

OK, this photo shows a daylight which everybody knows. It is the “blue hour” but the scene is still mysterious. Where does the light come from? 

How does it look like inside? The inside is shown, but there is still enough left to leave us picturing it to ourselves… People are inside and outside at the same time. This responds to the time photographed – between day and night…

RDBD: In an era where everyone has a smartphone and selfies and micro-blogging daily activities are quickly becoming the norm, why does traditional photography still matter? 

A.D.: To work with a rangefinder camera, which is all manual, takes time. The time needed for working with the camera makes an impact on how you work. It deepens, not only the progress itself, but also the statement of the image.

RDBD: What is one thing you think I should ask, but haven’t...and what is your answer?

A.D.: What makes you HAPPY; INNER FULFILLED by what you are doing?

RDBD: Great question! That might become a permanent questions for these interviews. Thank you. And your answer…

A.D.: When I am working I am mostly (and I like it) all by myself. I view, I photograph, I compose, I have ideas, thoughts and feelings…

What makes me really happy is, when people understand later what I wanted to express. And what I love is to be enriched and stimulated by the impressions, associations, feelings and thoughts people have seeing my exhibitions, photos… 

RDBD: What photographer would you like to see answer these questions and recommend RDBD contact to be featured?  
A.D.: My wonderful friend and colleague Alfred George Bailey from London working with the SL.

Contact Arina Dähnick:

Arina Dähnick - Fotografie
Grunewaldstrasse 27 - 10823 Berlin


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