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Chris Mock: ‘discover the landscape in front of your doorstep’

Cologne-based street photographer Chris Mock speaks to us about his love for black and white and rock ‘n’ roll!
How did you discover photography?

I discovered photography three times in my life. The first time was when I was 14 years old, and I got my first digital camera (a Sony Mavica MVC-FD7, with 3.5’’ Floppy Disk!). I was very much into computers and programming, and the camera gave me a chance to add another creative layer to my hobby.

The second time I was around 22. My flatmate and I both had digital SLR cameras and experimented with all kinds of styles, without really knowing what we were doing. I lost track when I went to the university to study sound engineering, while he became a very successful photographer.

Three years ago, I re-discovered photography while being on tour. A photographer was documenting the artist I was working for, and this was the moment I had an epiphany. It clicked again, and I haven’t stopped since.

I started with a lot of landscape photography but then realised that I don’t have the time and money to spend travelling to all those different places in nature. That is when I started to discover the landscape in front of my doorstep—the streets.

You seem to have a preference for black and white photography, what appeals to you about that?

First of all, it’s what I like. It’s like having a favourite dish or colour, or spirit animal. It adds another layer to the feeling of emptiness I’m often looking for in my photos. But behind this are probably several more technical reasons. Black and white reduces distractions, sets the focus on the composition and the subject. Geometry and forms become more important.

We first noticed your street photography, what is your method for taking great street shots?

When I go out with my camera, I start walking without a plan. I don’t have a route in my head; I follow where the city takes me.

I’m drawn to empty spaces and lonely places with few people around. I think what I’m longing for is some sort of post-apocalyptic emptiness with a few lonely survivors.

Next Level, an image selected for our ‘100 Days. 100 Commissions’ project

“I think what I’m longing for is some sort of post-apocalyptic emptiness with a few lonely survivors.”

I usually take one camera with a prime lens with me, and some batteries. Sometimes I have a second lens with another focal lens with me. That’s it. I leave all my gear at home.

What are your favourite cities to visit?

There are so many…some of my favourites are Budapest, Bilbao, London, Porto, Warsaw and Ljubljana. But I also like Cologne a lot. It’s not very pretty. Most parts have been rebuilt after the bombings in WWII and it’s not the most beautiful architecture. But even though it’s one of the four biggest cities in Germany, it feels smaller.

The people who live here are not typical city-dwellers. It’s more like a big village.

How did you discover Affinity Photo?

I was looking for software to edit my photos, so I started looking for a Lightroom/Photoshop alternative. I didn’t like their pricing and subscription model.

I found Affinity Photo and it blew my mind. It’s like Photoshop but cooler, faster and feels much more like future technology. No subscription, no bollocks.

Can you describe your workflow regarding editing an image?

It’s simple. I load the RAW photo into Affinity, add some details, make corrections on the exposure, sometimes I add some contrast. Then I develop the photo.

The first thing I do after that is duplicate the layer. On this one, I make little corrections with the clone and healing brush if needed. Then I use the black and white adjustment layer. I add a curves layer and adjust the curve to my taste. That’s pretty much it for my standard basic workflow.

Are there any features you wish Affinity Photo had?

I really miss something to organise my photos. I’m desperately waiting for that! I want to be able to make changes to RAW photos and then easily copy and paste those changes to a range of photos. But I’m sure, Serif is working on that already.

What do you do to pay the bills?

I’m a sound engineer and tour manager. I mostly tour with bands and artist around Europe, taking care of their live sound and day to day business on tour. Although, right now (August 2020) I’m not able to work since concerts and tours are not possible because of the global pandemic.

I have a little studio in Cologne where I produce and record music, but that’s more of a side business.

Do you have any photography advice for our readers?

Trust your feelings and follow your instinct. Be bold. Print photos! Gear can be a nice motivation but it does not make you a better photographer.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I write and record music, I take photographs and I play golf. I would say, these are my main hobbies. I cook a lot, pretty much every day and I like to watch series on Netflix on some evenings.

It sounds like a pretty standard life, but that’s my compensation for all the Rock ’n’ Roll happening on tour ;-)

Chris Mock

If you want to see more of Chris’ work you can follow him on Instagram and check out his website.

Artist relations

Umar is part of our artist relations team. He likes to tinker with computers, build things and play competitive games. His favourite colour is green and he enjoys bouldering, which is basically climbing without any ropes. It’s less dangerous than it sounds.

Credits & Footnotes

All images are copyright of Chris Mock and used with permission.