Jens Franke recently completed a 100-day hike through Germany, accompanied (almost) only by Aiko, his husky, and his Leica M9. He has documented his trek in fascinating pictures and published them in his blog. These photographs have triggered great enthusiasm. And we were excited too. Especially considering Jens walked all the way to our offices in Solms to chat about his journey. Here he shares the story of his trip, which you can also read in the original German.
Q: Jens, what gave you the idea to spend 100 days on a hike through Germany? What prompted you to undertake this journey and what did you do to realise the idea?
A: I got the idea after I had worked as an IT programmer for ten years. At that time I considered indulging in a prolonged vacation, to be spent maybe in Iceland, Norway or Sweden. But since I wanted to take Aiko, my dog, with me on the journey, I began to think of Germany as a destination. For, indeed, I had not seen very much of that country! That the hike should take 100 days was caused by my sense of perfection; I always try to do things 100 percent. So, I have been on the road not for one or three months, but for a 100 days.
Q: How long did it take you to prepare for this trip?
A: After roughly nine months, all had been prepared and my route planned. And then, I could start my journey!
Q: Apart from Aiko, your husky, the Leica M9 has been your permanent companion.
A: From the beginning, an important aspect had been to choose destinations that appealed to me as a photographer also. I wanted to document landscapes that are somewhat off the beaten track and show places from an unknown, new perspective. The important aspect was to focus on nature – I did not want to take photos of people. In the photos, nature should appear secluded and untrodden.
Q: Did you search for specific situations or did you just find them along your journey?
A: There have been places I purposefully put on my route. Yet, the circumstances under which I visited, experienced, and photographed these locations had always been determined by nature. As a rule, I set out early in the morning, to follow the course of the sun. I did, of course, not always know which locations I would come along on my way. Sometimes, I simply chose to sojourn longer at a place waiting for the sun, for the appropriate light that I wanted to show with my Leica. I had not been in search of the classical subjects of photography – my interest has always been to convey my experience of the specific moment. I have always been incentivized by exciting perspectives.
Q: You published your pictures in your blog. What have been the reactions?
A: In the beginning, it was meant to be nothing more than a blog for my friends and family but, now, many people have shown their interest in my pictures. People wrote detailing their personal reminiscences with the locations I had photographed, and, of course, they also comment on my pictures. By the way, many people can hardly believe that the places I photographed are actually located in Germany – and, to me, this is really the best feedback!
Q: During your voyage, you blogged, but did not publish your pictures and texts on a day-to-day basis. Why was that so?
A: First of all, I wrote very much every day. People should have enough time to read. And secondly, I had been determined to re-experience parts of my voyage at home; I wanted to share again – without ruffle or excitement – the experiences I had fixed in texts and pictures. After the end of my ramble in Germany, I set up diverse series of photographs focussing on different details, like windows that I had photographed. These pictures that do nothing more than register trifles, tiny details, have really been a part of my journey.
Q: One last question, how did you experience the M9 on the road?
A: I have been extremely satisfied with the quality the M9 delivers! Especially in nature shots, the Leica’s colour fidelity has been the decisive factor, and I have been, and still am, really excited about that. Other advantages of the camera are the high degree of luminosity and, of course, the special characteristics of the lenses by which scenes do really come into their own. I, for example, have been using an older Summilux-M 50 that is, to me, an ideal tool when combined with the M9.
Jens Franke, thank you very much!
-Leica Internet Team
You can read more about Jens’ journey on his blog, 100tage.jensfranke.com.