Cafe Lehmitz

Anders Peterson (born 3rd May 1944) is a Swedish photographer noted for his intimate black and white documentary photography.  In 1967 Peterson began photographing a bar called Café Lehmitz.  The Cafe Lehmitz sat at the end of “die sündige Meile” (“the sinful mile”), the red light district in Hamburg. He focused on the late night regulars, whom, he described,

“Had a presence and a sincerity that I myself lacked. It was okay to be desperate, to be tender, to sit all alone or share the company of others. There was a great warmth and tolerance in this destitute setting.”

The regulars included prostitutes, transvestites, drunks and other children of the night, all people who sat on the fringes of German society. Peterson continued to photograph Café Lehmitz for a further three years, visiting the bar and it’s misfits. Its photo book ‘Café Lehmitz’ was published eight years later in 1978.

The photographs hold a certain affection and warmth making Peterson the passionate chronicler of disruptive daily life. The subjects seem relaxed despite their photograph being taken and the images appear to be completely natural and genuine. This openness within the subjects is something I want to explore within my own imagery. So far I’ve mainly focused on the crowds of people in the bars and pubs I’ve visited, not regulars, friends or acquaintances.  I want to visit The Trough again as it’s the main place we always end up going to and the place where I know quite a few people. This could make for some interesting portraits of people who regularly go to The Trough.  I also plan to take some images of friends, to capture that openness evident in Peterson’s images.

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