Credit: Alexander Schliephake /  Fox on the run

Credit: Alexander Schliephake / Fox on the run

Today is the last day in the year of 2018. By now, such a thing really doesn’t matter to me anymore. There are rarely substantial changes at the turn of a year, it’s just all about one (sometimes two) damn number. But I’ve had this tradition since 2013 (with the exception of 2016 for some odd reason I can’t remember) to use this opportunity, take a step back, and retrospect on the soon-to-be passed year.

I keep saying it in every post, but it’s true: 2018 has been the most stressful year so far for me. It’s been rough and frustrating at times, but also extremely rewarding. So, without further ado:

The Statistics

First some statistics for us geeks: this year I achieved a new personal record in the sense that I photographed a total of 123 live music events, and 320 different bands and artists. I ended up with roughly 85,000 photos which accumulates to just over two terabytes of data. And yes, storage, redundancy, and backups are becoming serious issues at this point.

The events

Fuck Art, Let’s Dance!

Fuck Art, Let’s Dance!

I shot my first show of the year merely 20 minutes into it with a NYE concert of Leoniden, shed tears with clouds. at their final show with their then-current line-up, lost footage of Kettcar and Coppersky due to an SSD death, covered countless concerts for noisiv.de, and went on tour several times with Fuck Art, Let’s Dance! and Roast Apple. I collaborated with superb bands like Arkells, Schreng Schreng & La La, clouds., Maloun, Keele, Alex Mofa Gang, Joe Astray, and others.

Furthermore I shot several concerts as well as the whole Reeperbahn Festival for Molotow as one of their house photographers, and I had the chance to be part of the photography teams for Jamel rockt den Förster and Booze Cruise Festival with whom I collaborated numerous times since then.

Bloc Party

Bloc Party

One very special thing I’d like to highlight was the opportunity to shoot Bloc Party’s concert in Berlin for noisiv.de. This show was part of their “Silent Alarm” tour in which they perform their debut record front to back (or rather in reverse, I should say). I literally grew up with this record, and it has (and still does) influenced me in a great way when it comes to my musical preferences. This concert was probably the best I’ve ever seen, and I’m still in awe every time I think of it.

The costs / The Why

It should come at no surprise, that piling so much work onto yourself comes at a cost when you’re already working a full-time day job. I don’t get to enjoy life in a sense that most people would define “enjoy”. No relaxed evenings, no work-free days, no free time in general. But I’m fine with that. I don’t know it any better, I’ve been living this life since I started as a tech writer almost a decade ago. Again: it’s all I know, and it’s all I want. Some people get their enjoyment exclusively out of the work they do, and I’m one of them. Working any less would make me proportionally more unhappy.

But in the end I have to say that every bit of stress, all the struggles, and all the late nights were worth it. I had the chance to work with incredible bands and people whom I deeply respect for what they do and who they are. The kind of human beings which are extremely talented in their fields, but always strive for more. This inspires me and keeps me going to further improve myself in every regard.

A Peace of Mind

Credit: Alexander Schliephake /  Fox on the run

Credit: Alexander Schliephake / Fox on the run

I went into 2018 vowing to take a step back on my concert photography to focus a bit more on writing again. In 2017 I went to 102 concerts and festivals, this year I’ve got 123 on my credit. Obviously my New Year’s resolution didn’t work out that well, so there’s that. But in actuality, I don’t regret failing at that at all. Much more than that, this year showed me that I’m predominantly a photographer by now, and then a writer.

Don’t get me wrong: my writing will always be an essential part of how I define myself. After all I’ve been doing this for the past eight years. But in those last three years, photography really took over me, something I wouldn’t have expected when I picked up my dusty Nikon D3100 again back in January 2016. Basically my whole work was tuned upside down since then, and it’s been a roller coaster ride ever since.

At this point I feel like I’m getting where I want to be. I’ve developed a certain style for my photography in terms of composition and editing. I’m constantly working on something I deeply care about, and I’ve built a network that enables all of that and allows me to grow on a daily basis. I’ve gotten rid of several distractions allowing complete focus.

What’s to come in 2019

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

I generally like to not think the next year through too much. Instead I’ll just see what happens, act accordingly, and make my way as I go. I appreciate the spontaneity that comes with it, and my instinct has always done good job for me when it came to work-related decisions.

But one thing I definitely want to make a bigger effort in is this blog. In the past this has merely acted as a garbage dump for photos that didn’t make my portfolio, until I completely stopped updating the blog due to a lack of time. What I’m getting at is that I want to broaden the spectrum in terms of subjects. I definitely feel the desire to write about other photography-related topics, and I plan on doing that on a regular basis, especially when it comes to opinionated pieces. So, you might want to follow me on Instagram and/or Twitter where I’ll keep you updated on the progress of that plan.

The final words

At this point there’s nothing left for me to say other than a big thankyou. Towards everyone who worked with me, trusted in me, had patience with me in tough times, covered my back, supported me in all kinds of ways, and just stood by my side. I don’t take that for granted, and it really means the world to me.


My 2018 in Concert photography

Charles Engelken