Robert Götzfried is a German photographer based in Munich, whose work revolves around themed series that tend to treat one particular subject or repeat pattern of subjects. He favours architectural structures and produces crystalline clear images that bring out the inner beauty of what would generally be considered fairly mundane settings.
Some of the finest examples of his original approach are evident when he examines every day venues when deserted of people, namely his transformative work on indoor swimming pools and petrol stations. Magazine publications are quick to laud his visionary talents and he regularly features in the likes of Germany’s Spiegel Online, Spain’s national daily newspaper El Pais and design magazine Novum, among many others. Robert’s studies mainly focused on architectural photography and in 2015 he was commissioned by Canon Europe to create a series examining his hometown of Munich: “Looking Down on Munich”, which was part of a greater campaign for Canon Europe’s “Come and See” project. He has travelled to Australia, the US, Thailand, Croatia, Sweden, Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the UK in the quest for the perfect shot and remains refreshingly open to his audience, frequently inviting us to visit his social media pages with questions and suggestions.
Robert Götzfried’s style of photography is one that could be defined as hyper-real. Colours and perspective are so pin sharp as to draw the eye to details we would perhaps take for granted in every day life. Robert has the ability to draw the viewer into arguably banal settings and create magic through intense colour and repeated patterns. I asked him if this approach was studied or organic.
Studying design and photography definitely made my work more conceptual. Whenever I take a picture, I have an imaginary grid in the back of my mind. I guess when you’re into graphic design you somehow end up thinking in grids, lines and patterns. My design work is also very clean and minimal.
Robert’s body of work includes an impressive array of series that examine life's venues through a technicolour lens. He explains how he chooses his subjects and if he has a result in mind at the outset.
Some of my series really just come to me spontaneously, while others I plan over a long period of time. The “POOLS” for example, I had to plan out a lot. Things like the “Bodensee” series represent a piece of me and my childhood, which I felt compelled to shoot. By taking photos of everyday things with little tweaks, I hope to draw the viewer in close. We’ve all seen an indoor swimming pool and they tend to be noisy and crowded places to be. In my series Tunnels, Bowling Alleys, Pools, Stadiums, or Stations I uncover a completely different perspective on these settings.
There is an element of fantasy and romance in some of Robert’s photographic observations, namely his aforementioned shots of station platforms, swimming pools, as well as the playfulness in the 'Things I Found' series. It's a refreshing outlook in what can sometimes seem like a bleak world.
Right now I’m still working on my “Looking down on Munich” series, which I started for Canon Europe last year. All of my projects are ongoing anyway. If I have the chance to take another shot of a great swimming pool or a bowling alley, I’ll absolutely go for it. My series “The things I found” is also therefore an ongoing project. It’s a combination of me taking photos in the studio of things that I randomly find, and then commissioning selected authors to write a fictitious story around a given object. Maybe some of your readers would like to jump in and write a story? That would be great!
Robert goes on to talk about the most interesting and enriching subjects he has worked on so far…
It’s a hard one to answer. Everything I work on is extremely satisfying. None of my photography projects are money-driven - there’s no request behind them and in fact I rarely work from requests, because I want to feel absolutely free in my photographic work. That means that all my projects are done to achieve personal satisfaction first and foremost. Of course it’s a great thing if I can sell prints through my gallery but that’s not why I do it. The pools for example where a really amazing series to shoot, because there’s something wonderful about being the only person in one of these swimming cathedrals. The “Hochstände” were great in a different way. Going to the forest on your own and walking for hours is very calming and it brings me a sense of inner peace. The “People of the South” series on the other hand was all about communicating. Very different again but just as satisfying as the other ones.
Robert explains what he hopes his audience will find in his work
I hope to communicate the feelings that made me want to take the photo at the time I took it. It’s different from series to series. If the viewer wants to hit the road after looking at my “Fill’er Up!” series, or if they experience that same sense of calm that I did in the swimming pool pictures, then I think I have done a good job. Most of the time I set the subject matter of my series myself and this will be influenced by the places I spend time in.
Robert unveils some of his future plans
I will keep on working on my current series but I will also go travelling to South East Asia again and I hope to be as inspired as I was with the “BTS” series I shot in Bangkok. I have other things talking to me in the back of my mind but they need lots of planning in advance so I tend to keep them to myself for the time being. I hope I can come up with something new that you find worth sharing again.