Photographers in Focus: Carl Brunn

Onefootball interviews German photographer Carl Brunn in the first of our Photographers in Focus series.

Onefootball interviews German photographer Carl Brunn for our Photographers in Focus series. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Carl grew up in Köln and now resides in Aachen on the German-Belgian border.


I think the first question must be about how you initially developed your interest in photography?

It initially came from my father, who took pictures, and I would borrow his camera to shoot with. Later I had two friends who were also interested in photography and so we would go out together taking pictures and develop them in the dark room.


What’s your earliest football memory

My earliest football memory was with 1. FC Köln. My uncle and I went together to the stadium, the old Radrennbahn. It was the beginning of the seventies and Köln was at home against Mönchengladbach. Mönchengladbach had Netzer back then and Köln had Overath, it was one of the rare home wins for Köln against ‘Gladbach.

My first TV memory, funnily enough, was also Köln and Mönchengladbach; the famous DFB-Pokal final, which is supposed to be the best German football game ever, and it was the game when Netzer, in his final game for die Fohlenelf, scored the winning goal in extra time after he substituted himself on in the 91st minute. Everybody talks about Netzer and Mönchengladbach but for a good game you need two good teams and, well, Köln were very good on this day. As a Köln supporter I’m mad when everyone talks about ‘Gladbach when it comes to this game.


Who were and are your influences?

I didn’t have an idol I tried to follow and emulate, but Robert Frank was the photographer I admired most when I went to university. For my football blog I’m influenced by the fashion blogs and I guess in a way it is a fashion blog; football fashion and fan fashion. That’s the way I see it.


What is it about football and football culture that attracts you to document it?

I love the game. The most important thing for me is the passion. When I go to other towns and cities I like to talk to the fans about their relationship to their team. I’m much more interested in the little clubs in the lower leagues. I find more passion in these fans than the ones in the bigger leagues.


What do you look for when you take a photograph?

I’m more a ‘of the moment’ type of guy. I don’t have a special clue before I go there, I just try to capture the atmosphere and the spirit of the location, and in a way also my feelings about the situation; ‘Einfühlen’ is the German word – to become integrated into the environment around me. I’m empathetic to the situation.


How do you feel about technology and the emergence of digital?

Actually, I’m more of a traditionalist. My whole studies at the university were in film and black and white and I still like that, I still like putting film in a camera, but I only do this in my free time. The last time I used film on a professional shoot was around a couple of years ago. I mainly work digital with a Canon EOS 5. The Bolzplätze series is on film (6×6 Hassleblad) as are some of my older football pictures.

I have an internet site and I have two blogs, but my daughter tried to attract me to Instagram. She made an account for me and we tried to post some pictures there but I don’t really have the time and the interest to be using it regularly. You can get lost so fast. I’m not too much into it but still I think Instagram is interesting and my daughter showed me some very interesting accounts.


What is your favourite photograph by others and which is your favourite of your own work?

I think more in a collection of images when I look for good photographs. So if you ask me whose work I admire, I like I told you earlier Robert Frank, but also Richard Avedon and Wolfgang Tillmans. Of the football photographers I very much like Stuart Roy Clarke. I just bought a book of his work about football and football culture in England. His work is fantastic.

But I have at least two favourite pictures of my own, one of which is the black and yellow fan scarf hanging out the car window. I feel it captures the feeling of travelling to an away game in a perfect way. What I like very much about this picture is that it looks like a snapshot but it’s all made up. We did it for an Alemannia Aachen calendar a couple of years ago. Wolfram, the designer who worked with me on the calendar, and I organized the car and the driver and we got up real early – 6am – and went to the highway to have the early morning light. I took 6 or 7 rolls of 6×6 film and we got the perfect picture in the end.

And I like the picture of the fans on the top stairs of the Würselener Wall stand in the old Tivoli in Aachen. This pictures captures the feeling I had in this old stadium – with the floodlights and the fans watching the game – the spirit and also my special feeling about going to football. It’s grey and cold and you go with friends and me and my friends we’re not too much into wearing scarves or team shirts. We just go there and watch the game, support our team, talk and drink beer.


What are your plans for the near future and do you have a bucket list of grounds you want to shoot at?

I want to continue taking pictures for my fussball fan foto blog and I would like to go to see Union Berlin and Rot Weiss Essen. I want to go to France to see Lens and Metz and to Belgium to one of the teams I haven’t seen yet. Also to England but mainly the second division or third division. I’d like to go to see Charlton Athletic and Leyton Orient, and maybe to Burnley and Sheffield too.


What is your own favourite club and where’s the best place you’ve shot so far?

My favourite club is Allemania Aachen but I come from Köln so I went to see Köln games for a long time. I wasn’t very interested in Aachen at the time because they were playing third division and I was supporting a first division team and I had no real interest in seeing this lower class football, so to speak, but then a friend of mine took me to the game and I fell in love immediately, primarily because of the atmosphere. I liked the way the fans were a team together with the team. Actually they are regaining some of the spirit now they’re in the fourth division, which they lost over the high flying-years. This season there were some games with fantastic atmosphere in this new stadium.

One of my best experiences was in Paris. Paris Red Star, the third division team. I also liked it at Leeds United. It was a special atmosphere, the support and the intensity of the game and how the people reacted to the game was great.

I also have a special fondness for FC Sevilla after Aachen played them in the UEFA Cup. Alex Klitzpera, a former Aachen defender, said afterwards it was his schoenster; the most beautiful defeat he’s had because of the spirit in the stadium and that special night in general.

Are you a football photographer? Do you want to be featured in our Photographers in Focus series? Email us at editor[at]onefootball[dot]com to enquire. 

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