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images as the witness of time, telling stories and the passion of life: A talk with Tim Bruening


“People often do not distinguish between beauty and perfection. But there is a big difference between those things. Beauty is not perfection.”

Hamburg based photographer Tim Bruening captures the supposed coincidence, the pearls of daily life with a strong influence of youth culture. Mostly shooting on film you can see his passion for life in all his images. Like snapping the vibe and power of a concert, the cheerful world of kids and the naturalness and pureness of woman. With publications in Neon, Vice, Purple Fashion and many more he is on the road of success and we are more than happy to talk with him about his future plans and influences.


Watching your images is fun as you capture so many different things. What are your influences besides youth culture?

It´s the people who surround me. My friends and family. Specially my grandma taught me how important it is to be interested in life – in friendships and the small things in daily life. I guess that´s why i´m so interested in people and their stories and not in photographing landscapes, or cars or something like that. On the other side my uncle Frank Pabst, who was an artist as well, taught me to believe in myself and my art. He had a very radical attitude towards life and art. He never did anything else, even if he couldn´t make a living with his art he stayed true to himself and his work. It was really good to learn how hard life as an artist can be that early.
He and my grandma really sharpend my eyes for the interesting stuff out there. The weird and funny things, the interesting people. And of course music has always a big influence on me and my work.

And you are snapping moments of life. Have you ever felt riled about not having a cam with you and therefore could not record a situation?

I have these moments even when i have a camera with me. It´s not possible to take pictures of every moment passing by. That´s ok. You just have to learn to deal with it. I´m not going out without a camera that often, but from time to time I do. One day i saw a drunk homeless man in a wheelchair, rolling backwards and spinning around in circles under a bridge at a train station while he was yelling at the people passing by. It was evening and the dawning sunlight was sparkling the whole scene into a beautiful orange light. It was like a scene from a movie. I searched my pockets for a camera, but I forgot it at home, so all i could do was watching this weirdly funny situation. I really need to learn to relax and go out more without a camera in my pocket. Sometimes it can be really stressful to have a camera with me all the time. Then I always have this “I have to take a picture of this or that” stuck somewhere in the back of my brain. That can be really annoying.


Tim Bruening / timbruening.com


Where does your passion for photography come from?

I don´t know. When i´m really into something I can get lost in it. It´s just passion. I can´t describe it. It´s the same thing with music. When I hear or see a band for the first time and i really like them I buy the record, get a shirt and tell everybody i know to come with me to the next concert and if they don´t come with me I tell them what they missed. I really burn for it. I want people to be part of what i hear and see because I care about them.

And what are your working tools?

Most of the time I shoot with a Contax G2. I don´t really enjoy digital photography. Also I´m not really into technical stuff. These facts brought me to the Contax. For me it is the easiest way to get the photos I want to do.
I also do the scans by myself. As I hate editing, shooting on film is very good, cause most of it is already done and you have to deal with it. From time to time I use digital cameras too, but it´s not the same as using film…it’s just sometimes it doesn’t make sense to shoot on film, for technical reasons or because a client wants a selection of 200 photos the same day. Which is ridiculous in a way. Sometimes i take three photos and I know that´s it. It has all changed with digital photography nowadays. It´s normal for most of the photo editors and art directors to ask for so many photos.


Tim Bruening / timbruening.com


I am very fascinated by a potrait series of you called “cinnamon”. Its so lovely and natural. So, when is a woman beautiful in your eyes?

You answered it already. To me a women is beautiful if she is natural. In this series you see this girl who just woke up. It´s like 6 in the morning and the sun is coming up. There´s no make up. No styling. There are natural skin folds and there is pubic hair. That´s real beauty. People often do not distinguish between beauty and perfection. But there is a big difference between those things. Beauty is not perfection.

If we were to hang out in Hamburg for a night to talk about god and life, what place would we end up?

We start at the kitchen of my friends Klaus and Jana and as we are out for talking I guess we would end up in some bar, like “Na und?” or some other old place in St.Pauli. I feel much more comfortable at places where I sit next to a 70 year old drunk man who tells me something about his life and the good old days than listening to guys and girls in a cool bar wearing fancy clothes and talking about what awesome project they are working on right now.


Tim Bruening / timbruening.com


Where do you see yourself in a few years?

At a bar, talking to a complete stranger telling him about the good old times… Haha, no. I don´t know. You never know. It´s this random question everybody asks you. Even the job center asks you questions like this. I could answer this with stuff like: I wanna have a house with a garden, three kids and a beautiful wife – Or I see myself flying around the world, shooting with top models and making shitloads of money – or have my pictures shown in this gallery or that museum. Of course it would be awesome to fly around the world, or see my photographs in some gallery on the other side of the world… But fact is, I could be dead by tomorrow. I lost three people last year. Each one of them was close to me and meant much to me. I´m really trying to deal with it and there is no day i´m not thinking about them. I´m happy to live and have great friends I can hang around with. I don´t need more. If i´m doing good with money in a few years and I can pay my rent, feed the dog…It´s all good.

The most important thing in life is?


Your favorite quote?

This is very difficult for me to answer. As I´m a big fan of movies and a huge music fan, there are a bunch of quotes. I do use quotes a lot. As a name of a series or a single photograph, you´ll really find a lot of them in my work.  I used a lot of Antitainment quotes lately. I´m also a big fan of german rap group K.I.Z. I quote them all day and night while talking to people, which can be really annoying if you don´t know them or don´t like them at all. There are complete songs I could quote from Mike Skinner and The Streets. They´re just perfect. But as this is the last question of our interview i would say: Hasta la vista, baby!



Tim Bruening / timbruening.com

Tim Bruening / timbruening.com

Tim Bruening / timbruening.com

Tim Bruening / timbruening.com

Tim Bruening / timbruening.com

Tim Bruening / timbruening.com

Tim Bruening / timbruening.com

Tim Bruening / timbruening.com


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