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It was summer 2017. I’ve spent three months traveling in Guatemala and Mexico. I dipped into the spiritual world for the first time, meditated, had a dark retreat, did some psychedelic rituals and detoxed from the virtual world. At the end of my trip, still in Mexico, a friend from Austria contacted me. He wanted to know if I could help him with a project. I had a lot of work to catch up to but I still blocked almost 2 weeks for him, not even knowing what this was about or if it is really happening. So after a personally transforming three months long journey, I ended up going back to Austria. A few days later, I was on a plane to San Francisco.

I was going to take photos and video at the Burning Man Festival! I had no time to even do much research and was not prepared for what was waiting for me in the desert.

Because of all the digital gear I had to carry around already, I only brought one film camera (rolleiflex) and a few rolls of bw film. After a few days, I realized that my time is slowly running out to take some photos for myself. So I took a few rides on my own, leaving my ‘crew’, just to take photos of random people that attracted me. I had no real concept in mind. It was all just intuition. You look around and start feeling people and then just decide right there.

I had to be economic though, so I decided to take only one photo per person. Whatever pose and expression, it was in the moment. I wanted to keep it simple and pure. I think I wanted to focus on a person or appearance of a person. I’ve only realized later, that not knowing much about the festival and its reputation in the media made me have a more naive but also less influenced way of taking photos. I’ve not looked for the most extravagant and crazy. I guess I’ve tried to capture a set of portraits that almost seem normal, as if this was just another species of human kind, a visit to another planet, time or culture.

So here is the selection of silvergelatine prints I’ve made for an exhibition last October.

One night, Juri from my camp, we were already like brothers, and I rode our bikes through the the deep playa. We found one of our favorite cars, the ‘bounce car’ and decided to stay for a while. I looked around and watched people dance. It was dark, the only lights were the bounce car lights and fires it spit. It was no place to drink coffee and have a chat. Yet, I couldn’t let my eyes go of this one dancing creature. I kept thinking I need to walk over or I’ll never see her again. I decided to skip the part of saying hello and starting a conversation. Instead I typed out a message on my phone and handed it to her. I asked her if I can meet her the next day, to take her portrait. She typed into my phone, when and where to meet and handed it back to me, not saving anything in hers. We left with the most beautiful hug into the deep playa. I could only trust the universe if we will meet again.

Despite all the odds and craziness of this place, I did find Vanessa the next day. When she saw me walking towards her at her camp, she realized I was serious about taking her portrait. All the photos that I had taken for my series were more or less taken on the spot. This time it was different, we met specifically to take her photo. So we started to talk and walked around until I found a place where I wanted to take her portrait. I sensed her nervousness and wasn’t sure why so I kept talking to her. I still stuck to my one shot only rule and told her about it, which didn’t make her feel more comfortable, making it ‘an all or nothing’.

I chose a spot to sit down. It was only us – we were in our own space. Everything was calm now. We both knew it’s now time to take the photo. I asked her to close her eyes and just feel her own presence and whenever she feels ready, to open her eyes again. It felt like time stood still. It didn’t matter anymore where we were. I looked at her, still having her eyes closed, ready to take her photo. It felt like all energy around us was now flowing between each other. I was electrified. Then she opened her eyes and looked at me. Instinctively I took her photo, almost forgetting that I was still holding a camera. All was silent. No words spoken. She thanked me for this moment and all I could do was thanking her back. Our hands in prayer, reached out to each other. All craziness of the last days came to a halt. Everything was exciting, yet so familiar.

We kissed. Magic happened.

After two more insanely beautiful, mind boggling days at the burn, I went back to Austria.

After some time in Vienna, I traveled with the band “shake stew” to Morroco. I was stuck in Rabat for a few days. I dedusted my rolleiflex and took some shots on my walks.

We’ve shared three absolutely wonderful weeks together.

Full of love, curiosity, laughter, crying, sharing stories and emotions in the most pure ways and finally in the last days we both felt like we arrived home, that we belong together.

  1. Always a big fan of your work. Inspiring brother. Thanks for sharing. Wishing you and Vanessa all the best.

    Comment by Tasso — May 5, 2018 @ 1:15 pm
  2. Lovely shots as usual. Love the shots of your girlfriend too. She’s very photogenic. I can’t wait to see more. Cheers.

    Comment by Elaine — May 6, 2018 @ 3:42 am
  3. Fantastic post again, especially the Rolleiflex Portra images! Now I have to wait again….:)

    Comment by Domagoj — May 7, 2018 @ 6:51 am
  4. Wishing you the best in search of your love. Glad that you found a special someone. This blog has been in someway like a Korean love drama but a bit western without those cliche.

    Keep on shooting bro. :)

    Comment by kinoz4eyes — May 7, 2018 @ 5:06 pm
  5. Thanks for sharing those Sev! Always a pleasure to see a bit of a world through your eyes.

    Comment by Michał T — May 10, 2018 @ 10:00 pm
  6. Again, an amazing post and an amazing story!

    Comment by Alex — May 11, 2018 @ 8:33 am
  7. Appreciate all these personal words and photos – which are beautiful, once again!
    Wish you two to live happily ever after…! ;-)

    And haha: here’s a b/w version of the LV store window shot: http://photojournal.danielpietzsch.com/2017/November.html#053 ;-)

    Comment by Daniel — May 25, 2018 @ 11:37 pm
  8. amazing! this time not only for the beautiful pictures! wish you all the best!

    Comment by luca — June 11, 2018 @ 10:03 pm
  9. …if only could all the hatred,sickness,silliness of the world could be washed out by reading this post…
    Respect Severin, deep deep respect.

    Comment by Reiner — July 26, 2018 @ 7:46 am

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