Petra Hartmann and Stephan Schmitz have been working together as photographers since 1987. They concentrate on the genre of group portraits as a component part of everyday culture and the way this culture is presented.
Their photographic work holds fast human communities in their own respective spaces, repudiating common clichés about groups and clubs. On the contrary, it discloses insights into the interests and the predilections of those portrayed.
By the moment of the presentation and its choreography the photographers succeed in capturing both the individual human being and the group situation. The photographers arrive at artistically convincing works by clinging close to the heels of the groups and pursuing a kind of photographic field research.
The illustrated colour volumes about the fire brigades, clubs and societies, carnival celebrations in the various quarters of Cologne can be read as a photographic sociogram; they are also an historic document of contemporary social life.
The photographer’s view is analytically precise and yet respectful; the perspective adopted is direct and sometimes accompanied by the genial winking of an eye.
The exhibition‚...die für uns durch’s Feuer gehen....’ (those who go through fire for us) displays a selection of large format panoramas with presentations of large groups from current fire brigade projects. Another book about ‚Fire Brigades in Wuppertal‘ is in progress and will appear in mid-December.
Petra Hartmann and Stephan Schmitz work with digital camera technology. They favour the panoramic format. A transportable studio flash light system provides them with support in designing the portrait.
They also carry out work in the field of classical portrait photography for highly diverse companies – both in the field and in their own studio.