It starts around December 2021. My partner and I live in Toulouse. She works in an administration office, I’m a young lawyer. I’m the firm’s little hand, I work crazy hours and don’t learn much. She’s tired of the slow pace of projects and the gossip between colleagues. One evening she says to me: “Why don’t we drop all this? Why don’t we go and join our friend F in Berlin for a while?
At first, I didn’t take it well. There’s this comfortable apartment we’ve just bought. There’s the stress, a real illness with me, which I’m treating and I’m just starting to feel good.
And then the idea takes hold. At work, the days are long, waiting for someone to need me in court or for my boss to deign to give me a file. So, locked away in my office, I start doing other things, such as reading about photography. It’s important to kill some time, and photography interests me more than the law as I was practicing it at that moment.
A few weeks later, the decision was made. My partner’s contract was coming to an end. As for me, I gave my notice and set up my own photography business. We’re off.
We arrived in Germany at the end of August, staying with our friend F while we looked for accommodation. We searched and searched, but found nothing. We discover Berlin’s housing crisis. Without a proper work contract, it’s impossible to sign a lease. So we stay at F’s for a while, before finally finding a sublet.
When it comes to photography, I do odd jobs. Photographing dishes in restaurants for home delivery platforms, a report on a tattoo artist for a journalist friend. The rest of the time, I work on free projects and live off my savings. A few shows at Berlin Fashion Week and mostly street photography.
Berlin in 2022-2023. My local contacts tell me that the city is changing. It used to be that artists lived in Mitte, in the heart of the city center. Real estate was cheap. You could get by without having to earn too much money.
Today, the economy has developed. The alternative movements have moved to the outskirts, to Moabit and Neukölln. At the same time, buildings are changing, luxury properties are multiplying and the working classes are moving away from the city center. The city has become gentrified.
I wanted to photograph this. A changing city, marked by its past, counter-culture movements and current events, such as the war in Ukraine. To keep a trace of Berlin between two periods, a city halfway between the end of the Soviet Union and a standardized European capital.
As for me, I was between my gap year and my entry into the professional world of photography.
Full gallery: www.balaynphoto.com
Also on instagram
I would like to exhibit my work in a gallery, feel free to contact me on this link.
This work was mostly shot on Fomapan 200 with a Leica III paired with the Voigtlander Kolor Skopar 35mm f2.5 LTM mount.
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