top of page

Vienna Calling

As soon as the latest lock-down came to an end it was clear that traveling was on top of my list for this summer. Since we took over the street photography hub Street Grammers (@street.grammers on Instagram) and the Vienna based photographer Alex (@a_l_x_ender on Instagram) joined the team, Christian (@clmfub on Instagram) and I wanted to visit him for a first real team meeting. After all the travel planning was done we started the preparation process: What do we want to shoot? What are the best locations? What gear do we need? What conditions do we face?

Every time I visit a new place to shoot I start to browse through the Instagram feeds of local photographers whose work I like and search for interesting spots or situations. Based on the results of this desktop research I decide which gear to bring along. Main decisions to be made are: Do I need zoom or wider lenses? Do I need fast primes for low light shooting? Do I need filters? For this trip I decided to go with my Sony a7c mainly paired with my Tamron 28-75 2.8 for more versatility in daylight and two primes for shooting at night (Sony 85 1.8, 55 1.8). When it comes to filters I choose the Tiffen Black Pro Mist 1/4. I love to use these especially in daylight to get that softer cinematic look.

Location-wise we had three major spots on our list:

Vienna Nostalgic Trams

If you are into urban and street photography from Europe and -like in my case- digging commuter shots, the Vienna Nostalgic Trams are a mandatory photo subject. Without diving too deep into details here there are mainly two types of nostalgic trams in Vienna: the red and white ones and the blue ones (called Badner Bahn). In preparation Alex told us that the tram stations around the "Wiener Staatsoper" are good spots to shoot trough the tram windows. We quickly learned that there are a few challenges to overcome. First of all finding the right angle is a must since the images look the best with a clean background (like the bricks of the opera). Focussing is another issue since the trams only stop for a short period of time in which you need to find the right subject and frame it correctly. Manual focus might be the most accurate form but might make you miss some shots. Shooting in auto-focus does the job too if you stop down a little (e.g. f4.0) to get that extra depth of field. Finally, finding the right exposure can be challenging especially at night. Playing around with different light situations is also a good thing to do here.

The "Schwedenplatz"

The second location on our list only caught our attention because of the research we did before. Otherwise, I am pretty sure we wouldn't have noticed this spot. We saw a few interesting shots on Instagram and asked Alex where they were taken. And it turned out, they were all captured around the "Schwedenplatz" or the "Times Square" of Vienna like Alex names it. All in all, it´s a pretty crowded place with a lot of food booths and small grocery stores surrounding a subway entrance. To be honest, we wouldn't even have found the frames we were looking for without the help of a local. But if you explore the area a little there are some really interesting framing options here. The key to success is waiting for the right subject to cross your composition ALONE. As before focusing can be bit tricky here too. What I like the most about this place are the lights and signs as well as the solid almost gritty patterns.

The "Red Neon Light"

This "spot" may sound a bit funny in the beginning but describes a famous photo location in Vienna that first caught my attention when Alex posted an umbrella shot taken at this specific spot on his Instagram. What we are talking about is basically just the window of a bank with a neon light attached in front of a red wallpaper. Honestly spoken, at daytime almost no one would have recognized the potential in this set-up. Shooting at night when the light is switched on and the right subject passes the frame it´s a pretty unique and cool composition. On the first evening we had to learn that there is just a specific time period in which the light is switched on. Unfortunately, we were too late and had to come back the second evening. Besides finding the right angle and exposure, waiting for the right subject was our biggest challenge. In situation like this, the subject is the main thing to play with since tones and the general composition are pretty much straight forward. Since Alex already caught an umbrella, a great scenario could be a man with a hat or somebody wearing a dress or a trench coat ... But that just remains a dream. Nevertheless, I am pretty happy with the results.

This trip showed me how important traveling is for my creativity. Seeing new patterns, colors, lighting situation and subjects helps me to develop my skills as a virtual story telling. Doing your homework really helps a lot to get the most out of short period of time in a foreign city. So does contacting and meeting local photographers and learning how they approach a location.

What I learned the most on this trip is, waiting is often a better option than hunting and a location can just be a small sign or frame and not necessarily a whole building, street or neighborhood. Thanks a lot to Alex for showing us Vienna from a photographic perspective and giving us some insides on his approach to streetphotography. The next trips are already in planning!

60 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page