Marius Vieth is a street and travel photographer from Amsterdam. Two years ago he was going to give up photography but instead challenged himself to finish a 365 days project that changed his life. He quit his day job and began his journey around the world to discover culture, art, people and meet passionate photographers. The very successful completion of the project, which also won him many awards, convinced him to delve deep in his photography endeavours and develop an individual style that revolves around what he calls ‘the human element in an urban world’. This is a beautiful world soaked in light drizzle and shimmering with shining streets. It’s vividly coloured and thoughtfully monochromatic. It’s fantastic. More from Marius:
My name is Marius Vieth, I’m a 26-year-old fine art photographer focused on street photography and I’m originally from Germany. I grew up in a very rural area in the North of Germany. Since I was very young I was always fascinated with foreign countries and languages. That’s why I decided to attend University in the Netherlands back in 2007.
I graduated with a Master of Science in Communication Science, Psychology and Marketing in 2012. After a while in Germany I moved back to the Netherlands and currently live in Amsterdam. When I’m not taking photos or taking care of my International Fine Arts Label NEOPRIME, I love to cook, meditate, go for a run, watch TV shows or old movies and have fun with my friends and family. And I love pugs. A lot.
I bought my first cam back in 2011 to bring back some nice memories from my trips. As far as my output is concerned, it strongly depends on the project. During my 365 project I took photos every day and almost couldn’t stop at the end. But during regular weeks I go out to shoot every other day. When I’m traveling I spend most of my time hitting the shutter.
After two years of taking photos I just couldn’t find anything I truly was passionate about. To be honest, I was about to give up photography at one point, because I couldn’t even take portraits and I still can’t. I thought that photography maybe isn’t meant for me if I can’t even find pleasure in one of the most popular fields of photography. On the verge of quitting I decided to give it one more try with something bigger than I’ve ever done: a 365 project, which changed everything for me. At first I took photos of everything I could find in the city ranging from architecture to streets. It was great that way, but after a while I lacked the fuel that kept my machine running. I didn’t really have a driving force behind my work.
The one thing that fascinated me more than anything else during my photo walks, however, was how incredibly atmospheric everyday life on the streets could be. Sure, it felt weird at first to take photos of random strangers, but capturing real moments instead of set up shots immediately mesmerized me.
The most challenging part of my photography is definitely the minimalist approach to my street shots. While street scenes are generally very packed and vivid, I try to design a unique stage for one or two people within milliseconds that seems almost unreal. Someone once called it editorial street photography.
‘Human Element in an Urban World’ describes my approach to street photography in its essential form. I’m less fascinated with particular faces or features of people, but rather with their mere presence in atmospheric city scenes. Anyone can love a rose, but it takes a great deal to love a leaf. It’s ordinary to love the beautiful, but it’s beautiful to love the ordinary.
In order to truly focus on everyday beauty, I want to think as little as possible in terms of gear and as much as possible about composition, colors, lines, natural contrasts and exciting moments. The more gear I own, the more I’m trapped in gear thoughts. Psychologists would call this “Paralysis By Analysis”, I just call it “Gear Avoidance Syndrome”. That’s why I only own a 5D Mark II and a 35mm 2.0. As far as settings are concerned, I usually stick to high ISO values and an open aperture, because I’m mostly producing at night. After a night out with my cam I import all photos in Lightroom 5. I’m convinced that editing is a great way to add another facet to your photographs and express your true intention.
Although I’ve travelled around the world, I must admit that I’ve taken the most beautiful photos in the ugliest of all places. Sometimes true beauty lies hidden between grey buildings and creepy alleys. However, I loved shooting in Seoul in South-Korea. Such a vivid city with so many beautiful places and really kind people. I’ve learned that no matter where I go, you’re having a great time as long as you’re open-minded, nice and have a smile on your face.
One of my absolute favorites is “Retina” (see below). At the end of my 365 project I twisted and turned street photography as much as I could. What I wanted the most was take street photography into the infinite depths of surrealism. For one and a half months I was looking for real moments that seemed unreal. A Danish artist called Olafur Eliasson put some sort of steam installation at the side of a corridor next to a museum in Düsseldorf. However, that day the installation released way too much steam filling the entire hallway. It may have been a malfunction, but to me it was the moment I was desperately looking for.
My biggest achievement in photography for me is finally being able to express myself after desperately looking for that creative outlet for half my life. On the other side I’m really proud that I’ve already won 17 awards so far and ended up on 8 shortlists in the last 2 years. My favorite award so far is certainly the “Urban Photographer Of The Year 2014”. Since I’m working as an international fine art photographer, my art buyers come from Germany to California. I’m happy that my signed and limited museum quality prints end up in family homes as well as companies. I haven’t published my own book yet, but I was published in newspapers and magazines worldwide.
I feel that I’ve just started with exploring “The Human Element In An Urban World”. There are just infinite possibilities to twist and turn this concept and create interesting sets. One idea I would love to bring to life is capturing amazing street shots with a tripod and putting myself into the scenery as an unobtrusive bystander.
I love street photography more than anything else. To me it’s the most interesting and wonderful genre there is. However, I have to say that I’m surprised how little innovation there is. Yes, it’s one of the hardest genres there is. It’s incredibly hard to generate amazing results, because you got to have heart, eye and soul to see the beautiful in the ordinary. I have the feeling that there is still this idea floating around that street photography has to be black and white to appear artsy and that the classical elements of photography such as daring compositions and clear subjects are less important here.
To contribute to the development of the genre, I decided to capture rather minimalistic scenes with strong compositions, colors, natural contrasts and only one or two subjects. One might call it editorial street photography and I think it’s a valuable contribution to our community. I think that street photographers are among the coolest photographers there are, because they generally have a lot of heart, eye and soul. My only wish is that the genre becomes as diverse in style as the people on the streets we shoot - and I’m sure we’ll make that happen!
When I wanted to sell my photographs as signed and limited editions, most galleries loved them, but rejected me, because I’ve never studied photography. That’s why my biggest wish is to take my International Fine Arts Label NEOPRIME to new heights with my dear friend and business partner Martin Dietrich. We founded this label, because we believe in breathtaking photography by young and aspiring photographers. We don’t care whether our signed artists have a degree in art, but to what degree they love photography. We’ve sold quite a few museum quality prints worldwide so far and I deeply hope that this trend continues and we can welcome many more passionate photographers to our label and show the world how incredible photography can be!
When it comes to inspiration, I’ve got to say that my biggest inspiration by far is life on the street itself. Just walking down the streets of a city, listening to beautiful music and being the hidden director of candid street scenes.
There are a million photographers out there, but you will always be one in a million. Your most important gear will always be your heart, eye and soul. Forget the world around you for a moment and just capture what you truly love no matter how ridiculous it is. Look, I’m shooting the backs of random strangers on the streets. Start a 365 Project to find yourself as a photographer. Always have your cam on you. The best moments happen when you don’t expect them. Aim to create your own signature and make yourself and the world happy with your photography!