“Fine Art for Brave Hearts”
“These pictures certainly refute the cliché of the informatics specialist as a nerdy type who spends whole days in front of a computer in the cellar,” says Professor Heinrich Hussmann, obviously impressed by what his students have brought back from their photo safaris. Under the motto “Große Kunst für kleine Herzen” (“Fine Art for Brave Hearts”), 40 of these images were offered for sale at an auction organized by the Munich Rapid Transit Authority in conjunction with the Research Unit for Media Informatics at LMU. The auction itself was the final stage of an unusual practical course in photography, and brought in the tidy sum of 3190 euros for HORIZONT e.V., a local charity that helps homeless kids.
Riding the rails
It all started when the Munich RTA was looking for talented photographers, and turned to Professor Hussmann for help. Hussmann immediately hit on the idea of passing the RTA assignment on to his students by integrating it into his practical class in Media Design. “In this way, the students would be able not only to exercise and extend their technical and compositional skills – the basic goal of the course – but also to gain worthwhile experience by getting involved in a real project for a commercial client.”
Among those enrolled for the introductory course in Digital Photography, which is compulsory for students of Media Informatics, Hussmann recruited ten promising individuals – including Christina Rennebeck (27) and Matthias Nefzger (19) – for his practical. During the week-long course, they formed part of several small groups who took the train and rode the rails of the RTA system looking for interesting photo opportunities. Every morning the photographers discussed their previous day’s shots with the two supervisors of the project, who assisted them by providing advice and equipment.
Spurred on by a good cause
At the end of the practical course, the harvest of images was pruned by a jury – and 40 photographs were selected for inclusion in the auction catalog. Christina Rennebeck‘s photo entitled “Modern Perspectives”, which shows the junction between two lines against the background of a striking building, topped the bidding, surprising even the picture’s maker. “My first reaction was dismay – but I soon realized that I had reason to be proud. I got lots of compliments from photographers for this particular image, because buildings have a tendency to ‘fly out of the frame’. Of course, there is always a bit of luck involved in making a good shot.”
Lady Luck also contributed a little to Matthias Nefzger’s entry Zug-Vögel (a punning title that might be rendered as “Training Flight”). On the spur of the moment he clicked the shutter as a flock of birds getting into shape for the journey back to their winter quarters in the South wheeled above the railway tracks. Nefzger, who is in his third semester, says “Photography will always be a big hobby of mine, but I’m not yet sure whether I want to make more out of it when I have finished my studies.”
Rennebeck and Nefzger agree that the knowledge that their work would benefit a good cause was an added motivation. “Taking pictures for a good cause was definitely an extra incentive. We earned course credits and gained practical experience – and the Horizont project got something out of it as well.” So this exercise in practical fundraising was a win-win situation for everyone involved.