In the late 1970s, Berlin was the place to be for the younger generation. The city was undergoing a radical change. It was overpopulated by young people and had a fascination of its own. David Bowie attracted many musicians to go there and as Konstantin was an eager guitar player, he packed his few things and headed to Berlin at the age of seventeen.
He dreamt of becoming a musician, but around that time Berlin was about to re-invent itself. Punk gained popularity and so unfortunately he never achieved his breakthrough playing a Hendrix sound.
After a few wild years, he was broke and felt broken. It was the best to return to Mannheim to recover, Konstatin decided. Looking back, he told me, it was sort of an introverted phase in his life that began. He reflected what he had experienced, began to travel to Asia, South and North America. When he returned, it was nice to have collected memories, but he wasn't able to show them to others.
So he had to buy his first camera, a Minolta with a 50mm lens.
He was friends with a successful catalogue model and she needed a new sedcard. She asked him to photograph her, but Konstantin wasn't sure if he was able to produce a sedcard. He didn't have the experience and knowledge, he thought.
Nevertheless, he was giving in and took the images. They turned out in the most weird way. He was shocked with the results when the films were developed, but the model agency celebrated them. They looked like cross-processed film, a totally different look. Something new, something hot.
He was asked, if he learned this in Miami and all of a sudden, there was high demand for him as a photographer. It stressed him out, but he took the challenge, turned his apartment into a studio and did one model shoot after another.
Drawing comics had been a big passion for him, so he also did the makeup for the models, all by himself. By that time, a shoot still took around nine hours, Konstantin admitted and laughed. As he was having a hard time, controlling all the technical gear, models thought, he was gay.
So, they said to each other, you can easily pose nude in front of Konstantin. And this is how he started shooting nudes.
The work of Patrick Demarchelier inspired Konstantin and he admired him for his expressful and stylish photographs. He studied his fashion pictures and learned from those.
It didn't take long and Konstantin had his first publications, too.
The international break-through came in the middle of the 90s with the internet gaining popularity. There were not many websites and Konstantin was one of the first to have one.
Konstantin Dahlem, the photographer who shoots nudes that look dressed.
When we spoke, I realized, that curiosity is key for everything you do in life. And Konstantin is a good example of how important it is to listen to your gut feeling and to follow your intuition. And to always stand up, when something knocks you down. Some day, you might be at the right place at the right time.
As he is a very intutive person, it didn't surprise me, when he explained to me in detail how some poses don't work for him, because even thought the shape looks nice, the body language tells a story that is stronger, always. So, the most important thing is to get the body language in your photographs to match the expectations of your audience.
As he works for calendar publishers for such a long time, I asked him, how he thinks, photography has changed over time. The most significant development lies in post-production, Konstantin claims.
For example, the way photographers like Khoa Bui and Kesler Tran redefine colors and create additional depth to their pictures in post. This refreshing and always changing Zeitgeist is something Konstantin loves to watch on instagram.
Thank you, Konstantin, for telling me about your inspirational life as a photographer!