Worlds Apart: A Talk with Gesine Born

If you follow Lucid. Blog, you know we show a great deal of gratitude for the people who have helped us shape Lucid along the way. This week, we express our appreciation for Gesine Born, Lucid’s resident photographer. Gesine has helped shape Lucid’s image with her fresh take on who we are, and what we represent. We recently sat down with Gesine to learn a little more about her inspirations, and get her perspective on Lucid through the lens.


Die vernünftigste Stadt der Welt Nr. 24, 2007
Photo Credit: Gesine Born

Though we here at Lucid know you as a Berlin photographer, you are not originally from the city. Can you tell us a bit about where you are from, and how you got started in photography?

I was born in Stade, a city located about an hour outside of Hamburg. As many photographers, I began my career by heading in another direction. In University I originally studied chemistry, but I gave it up after only two semesters. Being around chemicals everyday was not the best thing for my health, and the practical work we did in the lab never excited me as much as the actual theory of chemistry itself. Following my attempted studies, I did a few internships. The first at a design company, and the next at Info Screen Hamburg, the company that provides information for the TVs on public transportation. These internships opened me up to the more technical side of photography and film, and in 2002 I returned to school to study communication design with a focus in photography.


Despite your beginnings, did you in fact always want to be a photographer?

I’ve always been fascinated by the visual power of imagery – particularly films, photographs, and paintings. But I’m not sure I knew for certain I would end up a photographer. I took photos, but it wasn’t until I worked with my university professor, Ute Mahler, that I began to see photography as a form of self-expression. I think the real transition came for me when I switched from small, to medium image format with my old Hasselblad. This was when I really began to understand what photography meant to me. I photographed my thesis using this camera, and although I don’t always use analog cameras in my professional work, when I travel or focus on personal projects, there’s no comparison.


Much of your work is based around portraits. Is this the type of photography that interests you most?

I love classical portraiture, but I also am quite interested in street photography. In my profession however, I do a lot of studio work. I like portraits because I am able to work closely with the subjects. We work together to find a level of comfort that transforms through to the final photos. Sometimes this takes five minutes, sometimes a few hours. It is most interesting though, to see how it all plays out.
For my other studio work, like my fashion photographs for the label Polynoir, I like to build fashion landscapes, or almost self-contained worlds, with a mix of digital and analog. For the models, I use a similar process as my portraits, but then I’ll digitally add interesting backgrounds. For me, this mixture of analog and digital technology is important in achieving a natural effect for the photo.


Christine Krüger: Vom Verlust der Unschuld, 2009

Christine Krüger: Vom Verlust der Unschuld, 2009.
Photo Credit: Gesine Born



Dr. Gerhard Grübel, leitender Wissenschaftler DESY, 2013

Dr. Gerhard Grübel, leitender Wissenschaftler DESY, 2013
Photo Credit: Gesine Born

Did the inspiration to create photo “worlds” come from somewhere in particular? 

I was always really captivated by Jacques Tati’s film Playtime; I thought it was visually spectacular, and interesting in the way he chose to develop his characters. Though the film that continues to inspire me to this day is Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. His idea of this, self-contained, dystopian future really spoke to me. In my personal projects, I often try to recreate this.

And of course I will always admire Diane Arbus. In my eyes, no portrait will ever come second to Patriot.


Diane Arbus .. shown: "Patriot, with proud button” ..

Patriot, with proud button and flag, N.Y.C., 1967
Photo Credit: Diane Arbus


In addition to your work as a professional photographer, you also teach photography at Berlin’s Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (University for Applied Sciences). Would you say you gain inspiration from this as well?

Yes, in a way. I have been teaching at the university since 2012, and for me, I gain the most inspiration from seeing how my students embrace my knowledge of analog cameras. These days, most, if not all students, work with digital. They have always had the flexibility to manipulate their subjects into whatever they want, not really understanding the technical process and focus one needs when technology will not do this for them. This is the main idea I try to convey in my classes – digital cameras are fantastic, but a true photographer knows how to produce a good photo with any camera he is given.


You are currently the in-house photography for Lucid. How did you begin this relationship with the company?

I had recently moved to Berlin, and needed a space to work. In Hamburg, I was part of a very creative community studio, and was seeking something similar. I read one day that Lucid was renting desks, and I thought the space sounded interesting. When I met with the Lucid team, I immediately got a similar vibe to that of my space in Hamburg. As a bonus, Lucid needed a photographer to take photos from time to time, and I guess the rest is history!


LUCID Büro, 2014

Lucid Büro, 2014
Photo Credit: Gesine Born



You said you found the Lucid space interesting. What is it that makes Lucid so appealing?

What fascinates me most about Lucid, is how they approach each individual project with such sincerity and accuracy. Because we often work on projects together, it is interesting to see how each individual Lucid employee is able to contribute their skills collectively, and still work so calmly as a unit. I have worked with many agencies in the past that focus only on the outcome. At Lucid, the importance of the project lies in the process, and insisting the content is topnotch. Their work is precise and intelligent, and it is inspiring for me to be part of such an environment.


Die vernünftigste Stadt der Welt Nr. 15, 2008

Die vernünftigste Stadt der Welt Nr. 15, 2008
Photo Credit: Gesine Born



Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions we can look forward to?

For the past 10 years, I have been working with fashion designer Christine Krueger, and her label Polynoir. Together, we have already completed three exhibitions, but are soon hoping to create an exhibition focusing on all the collections captured throughout the years.


Polynoir Accessoires  2014

Polynoir Accessoires, 2014
Photo Credit: Gesine Born


How are you hoping to shape you photography in the future? What direction do you think it will take? 

For the past few years now, I have wanted to produce work similar to my series Die vernünftigste Stadt der Welt (The Most Practical City in the World), where I create an interpretation of a 1970s utopian society. I am hoping to start my new series this year, but because it will require an enormous amount of research and travel, it’s just about finding the time.
And in my professional work, I hope to continue shooting with academic and scientific institutions. Though some may see this as routine work, I am truly passionate about these portraits. I like that I can frame the scientific world in a more positively creative light. And even though I never finished my chemistry studies, I suppose this type of work is an ode to my continuing love affair with science.


Die vernünftigste Stadt der Welt Nr. 16, 2008
Photo Credit: Gesine Born


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To learn more about Gesine or her work visit:


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