Alexander Benz: Discovering Black and White Urban Geometry in NYC

All images by Alexander Benz. Used with permission.

“Geometry plays an important role in my life.” states photographer Alexander Benz. “I see angles, corners, shapes and curves everywhere. I often use those elements to frame my subjects to create a border other than the border given by the camera.” Mr. Benz could get this unique creative vision from his engineering education. Afterwards, he moved to NYC to study at the International Center of Photography then stuck around to work for various photographers and get a bit more of a taste for the industry. It’s there in NYC where he discovered his affinity for black and white photography and Urban Geometry.

“I often roamed the city at night, always having my camera, a Leica M6 loaded with high speed 3200 ASA film, with me.” explains Mr. Benz about his photographic journey. “Wherever I went I found situations that I had an urge to record. Not necessarily as a memory, but more for the purpose of processing what was going at a later moment.” There are many photographers who do this, actually. It’s how they learn to make sense of the world.

Why is black and white photography important to you?

Black and white photography is very important to me. This kind of photography emphasises shapes and light in a very different way than colour photography. Reducing an image to shapes of grey creates a different focus on the subject and leaves some room to fill in the rest, the way we usually experience our surrounding, by using our imagination.

What inspires you to create photographs?

I have been a photographer for more than 20 years and I love the idea that I can document the world around me by using my camera. It keeps me looking around, looking up, left and right. It is so easy to forget to do that, to let our surrounding fade in to the backdrop of everyday life.

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art world?

To me, black and white photography is not necessarily meant to represent reality as is. Of course it can be used in documentary photography where we are reminded what is happening around us every day, but I believe that even there it is used for a different, even if subconsciously, purpose. Black and white somehow separates my work from the everyday iPhone snap shot, from the family photos, and everything else that is meant to serve as a memory of reality. To me, the lack of colours are in a sense the same as the way we remember things. Not perfect, but it leaves room for interpretation, it encourages the viewer to fill in the gaps and draw his/her own conclusions.