Sascha Rheker is a German editorial and corporate photographer based near Frankfurt, Germany. Born in 1973 he worked as a paramedic during civilian service after school and took up studies in medicine and political sciences, as they said there was no future in photojournalism. In 2001, Sascha started working as a photojournalist. He shares with us pieces of his instant photography created with the Leica Sofort.

Please share a bit of the background of this project. Why Hong Kong? 

I first came to Hong Kong by rather by accident as we stopped there for some days after visiting my wifes uncle in Australia. What immediately caught me was, that this city is so full of life. Especially if you compare it to Frankfurt were you have those big bank skyscrapers too. But in Hong Kong you find all these little businesses right in the alley behind the fancy luxury shops. You’ll find a butcher and a fishmonger selling their goods right in the street next to someone drying fish or herbs in the sun on the sidewalk. What might sound sort of chaotic in the first place can be, on the other hand, a very calm place and it’s these contrasts that really attracts me to Hong Kong.

How was the experience using the Leica Sofort and the instant gratification it provides?

The most remarkable moment for me was, when I was standing in a small photo store in a back alley on Hong Kong Island buying film abroad. Something I haven’t done for more than a decade. And it really felt good.

Compared to a digital camera, the Sofort is not really that “instant” (compared to a digital camera) because it takes some time for the photo to develop. Often I put the Sofort pictures right away into a small plastic box and only find the time to look at them in a calm moment later on. One big benefit for me is, that I have no undeveloped film that I have to get safely through the x-rays at the airport. What is really great is that you can just shoot an extra frame to give away as a present.

When shooting with the Sofort, was it easier for you to make street photography knowing you wouldn’t be able to change or modify the result as happens with digital?

Being a photojournalist I normally do only few things in post production. So the difference was not that big.

As I mentioned before I was introduced to the Holga in 2004 by David Burnett, at a point where I had totally abandoned analogue photography, and it really changed a lot for me. Because the restrictions (12 Images, no controlls) really helped me to focus more on my subject even when using digital cameras. The same goes for the Sofort. It is quite a reassuring experience that you can take great photographs even with rather simple cameras and that very much helps you with any other camera, too as it keeps you from thinking to much about technical aspects.

The Sofort is camera that teaches you to make the most out of the camera you have, by adapting the way you photograph something, whereas system-cameras often mislead photographers into thinking that the solution is to adapt the camera, lens, etc. to a situation.

You’ve used other Leica cameras including the Leica M9 and Leica M (Typ 240). Can you describe the shooting experience between these and the Sofort?

Luckily I started my career back in the analogue age and I benefited from my work with the Holga, too. So I’m not afraid of cameras with limitations (if you compare the Sofort with the Holga, it actually offers a plethora of settings). The Sofort, in my eyes, is a great addition to the M, because it is totally different. For example I rarely use the M at apertures above f 2,8, the Sofort starts at f 12,7.

Do you envision yourself using this format and camera in your photojournalistic projects?

Yes, very much! The photos from the Sofort are perfectly printable and that beyond the size of the actual picture. Maybe some people miss that the images, from the Sofort – being  “chemical images” – are in a way “positive medium format negatives” and that one can scan them and print them at quite big sizes.

Lastly, do you have anything else to share with readers or other projects you might be working on?

Maybe it would be interesting for readers to take a look at the Hong Kong pictures from the M in comparison to the ones from the Sofort:

Thank you Sascha!
To know more about Sascha Rheker, please visit his official website.

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