Markus Andersen is an Australian Documentary & Street Photographer based in Sydney and a huge inspiration for myself. Ever since I saw the short-movie “Belly of the Beast” on Vimeo, I tried to re-create his style and his awesome photographs. Unfortunately, I don’t come even close, but in this article, I want to present his work and how You can at least follow his work.
Biography of Markus Andersen
Markus Andersen describes himself as a Documentary / Art Photographer. He was born and raised in Sydney, which has ever since been his source of inspiration and plays a big role in his work.
He attended the Sydney Institute Of Technology where he acquired a Diploma of Photography. Since majoring in Photography, he worked as a freelance photographer.
The short-movie “Belly of the Beast”, that I presented earlier on, was part of the promotion for his first book “Rage against The Light”, which has been published on www.tgpublishing.com.au.
In his body of work, he focuses very much on the light to create a compelling photograph. The light becomes often the main subject, with people being the extras to complete the scene.
His work has been exhibited in New York, Paris, Istanbul, Toronto, Sydney and the United Kingdom.
He focuses now on more personal work and aims to complete recent projects to present them in upcoming exhibitions.
Gritty Streets in Black & White
When discovering his images, I was instantly fascinated by the way his black & white images looked like. They have a very classic style, which can be seldom be found today.
The reason behind that look is, that he actually uses analog cameras in addition to high-end monochrome Leica cameras. Mainly equipped with the Leica MP and the Leica M4 he is able to create a black & white look that is very unique.
Very characteristic for his work is the strong grain and contrast. Although most of it is already present at the spot, some of it is enhanced in the post-processing.
Nonetheless, the sun of Sydney seems to play the main role in these images. Creating a similar look with such strong contrasts can be difficult when You live in other areas, where the sun is usually higher.
In the image above, You can also witness the great composition of utilizing the rule of odds and rule of thirds. There are exactly three people present and they are present in each third of the picture. Additionally, there is also a strong contrast between the guy on the left, who has a white shirt and the guys to the right, who either have complete black suits or are standing in the shadow.
If You want to create similar images, head down the street at noon and shoot with a film camera and black & white film. Push the film and experiment a little bit in the darkroom, until You get the desired effects.
You can also use the Silver Efex presets in Lightroom, to come at least somewhat close to his style with “average” digital equipment.
Below You can see an image of mine that I have taken in Saigon and resembles his gritty style.
The Belly of the Beast
I first discovered his work through the awesome short-movie “The Belly of the Beast”.
It is one of the best-made documentary movies about Street Photography in general and is very worthwhile. Not only do You receive insights of his way of working the streets of Sydney, but You also get to know Markus Andersen more personally.
Description of the Movie
Markus Andersen doggedly pursues not merely cool images but great images. Sydney, Australia is his canvas – he calls it the belly of the beast. His art practice encompasses documentary, street and conceptual bodies of work using analogue 35mm, 120 film and the iPhone as his capture mediums.
Marks Andersen collaborated with Rob Norton and together with the unique music, this movie is one of the sources of inspiration for me whenever I don’t feel like going out on the street.
The movie also transports the general atmosphere of being a Street Photographer very well. We are walking on the street to absorb the city and sometimes we get lost in the chaos of the city, only to photograph it and make sense out of it again.
Rage against the Light
The first book from Markus Andersen is titled “Rage against the Light”, which describes his overall style very well.
Description of the Book
“Markus Andersen’s photographs feature the city of Sydney as an abstracted backdrop for a fragile human presence, one dwarfed by overwhelming architectural development and consumerism. In these moody black-and-white images, people scurry about and are literally exposed by light. Struck by shafts of illumination between buildings, they are like insects coming out for food.
With a title taken from Dylan Thomas’ famous poem (‘Do not go gentle into that good night …. Rage, rage against the dying of the light’), Rage Against the Light features analogue and digital photographs in which Andersen captures bleak city vistas inhabited by people who are often solitary and lost in thought. He admits to being drawn to the ‘darker side’ of this city but his images are also marked by flourishes of whimsy and irony.”
You can try to buy the book here.
Unfortunately, the book is so popular, that it is sold out very frequently, but from time to time there might be new units.
In addition to his Black & White work, Markus Andersen also experiments more and more with color in his photography.
Interestingly enough, he stays very true to his original high contrast photography style and is able to create the same atmosphere, only this time in color.
He carefully combines the colors as You can see in the example above. In contrast to the his Black & White work, color adds a whole new layer of depth to his work.
Although his focus remains in gritty monochrome photos, his color photography is evidence, that he is an overall strong talented and proficient photographer.