New York's Harlem inspires a photographic duo to draw on documentary and fashion photography
Originally from Munich, Germany, photographic duo Max von Grumppenberg and Patrick Bienert have been working together since 2007, producing campaigns for designers such as Valentino, Miguel Adrover and Hussein Chalayan.
Two years ago they moved to New York, where they found themselves drawn to Harlem and its rich artistic heritage. “Spending time walking around the area and meeting people who live there was very inspiring,” they say.
The result is a project which they named after the district, shot with a model but given a gritty, documentary feel.
“We asked Drake – a model and actress – to be part of the project, to find the right balance between reportage and fashion,” they explain. “We took these images where Harlem connects to Central Park and tried to capture authentic moments and the social landscape.”
The project also includes several candidly shots of passersby; in one image a seated woman is seen from behind, for example, while in another a woman walking down the street is shown from the waist down.
It’s an unusual approach but one that’s often worked for von Grumppenberg and Bienert – “we like to spend time in a place to get a better understanding of it, and to document it from our point of view”, they say. In doing so they hope to capture “the ordinary moments and surroundings of the people we portray”, they add, while combining it with their trade-mark lo-fi glamour.
See more of Max and Patrick’s work here.