German photographer Christian Reister has been documenting the streets of Berlin since 2001, when he moved to the city from southern Germany as a 25-year-old bass guitarist.
In 2011 he decided to make the switch from colour to black and white and digital to analogue, turning the lens of his new compact 35mm camera on the city’s well-known club scene.
“I wanted my pictures to get more abstract, less perfect, grainy, darker, more melancholic,” says Reister. “Since then it’s my choice to photograph in black and white as soon as the night breaks. I work with small cameras that fit in any pocket and can be used in almost every situation without drawing much attention.”
Reister’s atmospheric photos of Berlin by night are the subject of a new photobook published by Hoxton Mini Press, which features 70 images taken by the photographer over the last decade.
The book is part of the publisher’s Tales from the City series, which began life in London with photo series such as Nick Turpin’s painterly portraits of London commuters on night buses (as featured in CR’s 2017 Photography Annual) but has now expanded to include other cities.
Reister’s photos capture a place that has seen many clubs come and go – and stay, for that matter – over the years, but none of them are really identifiable from the images. Instead, he tries to capture the spirit of the city after dark.
“Berlin is versatile, big, constantly changing [and] has a lot of crazy facets, but also bourgeois and even very boring sides. At night, the contrasts seem to intensify,” says Reister. “I’m not aiming to make an objective documentary. Of course, there is not one kind of Berlin nightlife, but many. I try to show a bit of my personal one, in an atmospheric rather than descriptive way.”
Berlin Nights is published by Hoxton Mini Press, and costs £17.95; hoxtonminipress.com