Born in Bad Säckingen in 1965, Klaus Polkowski began capturing life through his camera lens at the age of 12. He lived and worked in Berlin from 1987 until 1992 during which time he taught himself the art of photography. By 1987 Polkowski’s camera never left his side during his travels to Australia, Asia, Africa, the United States, parts of South America and the South Pacific.
A year later Polkowski discovered black & white photography, which has become his characteristic art form. In 1988 Polkowski met Gary Woods, a British photographer who was working on a project about Mother Teresa in India. He invited Polkowski to work with him on it, which later turned into a black & white documentary about an Indian clinic for the terminally ill. Some of Polkowski’s most impressive, gripping photos later became part of Woods’ published book, Mother Teresa - A Life in Pictures.
Polkowski has exhibited his work, among other places, in Freiburg, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Berlin, New York, New Delhi, St. Moritz and Palma de Mallorca. He has lived in Freiburg as a photo artist with a focus on portraits and travel photography since 1992.
Polkowski considers the pictures that he “gathers“ during his travels to be a traveller’s visual diary. He documents his own personal view of the countries and the various people he meets through his expansive black & white photo series. The sensitive, intimate potraits he creates are the result of his gentle, gradual approach toward the people in his pictures. His technique inevitably invites the observer to interact with the subjects he sees. For Polkowski it is about both capturing life in pictures and breathing life into them through his own interpretation.
For over 25 years Klaus Polkowski has been working with an analogue, medium format camera Hasselblad 503 CXi/CW (6X6), a Mamiya (6x7) and a Rolleiflex 2.8GX, all of which stem from the pre-digital era. Using a DURST Modular 70 Vario magnifier in his photo laboratory, Polkowski develops high-quality silver gelatine prints, also known as Baryta prints. His Fine Art Prints stem from digitalized black and white negatives. In the last decade he has also worked with digital cameras from Nikon for his commercial projects. For his digital photography, Polkowski relies on high-grade photo paper to print up to size A0 when using his Epson Pro 9900.
Analogue or digital? That’s a matter of philosophy. In the end the camera is merely a tool in the hands of the photographer himself.
Capturing moments and the people within them
Klaus Polkowski illustrates the human experience – in a very humane way, the way people truly are. Without guile. Without aloofness. But always with respect. He does so consistently, whether he is working with musicians, painters, filmmakers, architects, the literati or actors. His work can be found in books, exhibits and on Websites. But he also photographs politicians, business people, movers and shakers – people like you and me.
On every page and in every picture you will notice how he lets people be who they are. Perhaps the following quote from Klaus Polkowski from 2001 says it best: “In the beginning, I was always searching for pictures. Now, more than ever, they have started finding me.“