Photographs by

Mark B. Anstendig

My Best Work

Visits from East Berlin to the West after the Wall was up

Click on small images to see photo series for each image.

Parting Sequence

The finest photos I know, bar none!

Enkelkind(grandchild) Series

Greeting Sequence

Reunion sequence

The images below are all single images.




My reportages of the visits of the East to the West were the most difficult photographic assignments I ever had, and, IMO, the greatest.....due mainly to the Messraster focusing device, which allowed me not only to focus precisely in little or no light, but that precise focus makes this series absolutely true to the  extraordinary emotional qualities going on during this amazing time. Photos made with normal means, using stopping down and depth of field, instead of exact placement of the plane of focus, usually on the main subject's nearest eye......such photos would not have been an accurate representation of the emotional qualities going on.

Some time after the Berlin Wall went up, it was negotiated that East German citizens could go to the West for one day to visit relatives in the West. Those who were allowed to go had to have ties in the East, like family, loved ones, etc., that ensured that they would return. Otherwise those people left behind would be arrested or worse.

People came over to the West as early in the morning as possible, which meant I had to be at the border by 2:00 AM, and they went back as early as possible, which was as near to midnight as possible. I went to the border early and late, took my films home, developed and printed them, shipped them, and went back to the border again. That went on for a week or more, including a whole reportage for a German magazine of a young man who lived with his father in the East, who came to visit with his mother and meet his siblings on her side for the first time in years. I had little sleep at any time. After it was over, I went home, crashed and slept for almost a whole day.

Most of the East-West visits photos are made in little-to-no light, with available light and sometimes indirect and direct flash, held by an assistant. This sequence is exactly as it is on the film. Nothing is ever posed (also, none of my theater photos are ever posed).

It took me a while to get to posting these photos, because they took and still take a lot out of me. I know of nothing quite their equal in delicacy and precision of emotional content nor of such fine depiction of the human condition in the most delicate of nuances, under the most difficult of circumstances. For their time, they were absolutely state of the art of photographic possibilities and still remain right up there with anything else. For content, I am of course biased, but I know of nothing comparable.

Berlin Index

©2006 Mark B. Anstendig. All rights reserved.

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