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44 Minutes with Christian Schwarz, Photographer of Zürich’s Eyes

Christian Schwarz - Kreis1 - Ernst Scheidegger (2000)(Pictured is Ernst Scheidegger, a Swiss photographer and painter. He has passed away on February 16, 2016, at the age of 92 years.)

Christian Schwarz is a Zürich based photographer who has lived and worked in the old town for years.

And it is under the roof of Zürich that this artist has been capturing unique and unrepeatable ordinary, but yet timeless, moments of the city. Since 1994, Christian Schwarz has been working as a freelance photographer and has published several photo books, including Kreis 1 and 178 portraits. His latest work, Du Liebe Zeit, has just been released in March 2016.


Christian, your portraits capture moments of Zürich’s old town and the people living there. Why Zürich? What is so special about this city?

Christian: For years I have portrayed Zürich - and in particular Kreis 1 where I live. This is a place I can relate to, like a big roof under which there is an entire universe that I felt the urge to frame over the years. This is where I grew up, it is my own world where I never knew what was going to happen.

Taking pictures of ordinary and extraordinary lives has been my adventure. I wanted to create an intimate portrait of Zürich through the unique relationship of this changing city with its people.

Christian Schwarz - Kreis1 - Andrea (2001)

Christian Schwarz - Kreis1 - Marco and Nan (2001)

Christian Schwarz - Kreis1 - Rolf Brunngasse (1999)

Christian Schwarz - Kreis1 - Sela (2000)


Where do you find your inspiration?

I am a "Menschen" photographer. To me, we are the most interesting species of the planet, but yet we are our own enemies. Nevertheless, people remain my first source of inspiration. I have been shooting every single day since years with the aim of capturing the inner soul of each "Mensch" regardless of their social value.

I have never been interested in models or long shootings with recreated scenes, but in telling a story through the instant of each photography. Each of my books is a personal diary narrating my journey through Zürich. They are more then any exhibition, a true expression of my work.


What is needed to take a good picture?

For me, curiosity for life and for people in general is the secret to creativity. My photography is all about being curious, going slow and taking the time to discover the life around me with open eyes.

Over the years, Zürich has been the perfect location to satisfy my appetite and curiosity for life. It has enabled me to spot interesting individuals and scenes, and I have built my own technique around this curiosity.


Who are the people you have portrayed over the years?

Shooting mainly in black and white, I have dedicated my work to capture interesting and unique characters, creating a story in a frame between Zürich and its inhabitants. I have always been fascinated by how people interact with their surroundings, what they feel and live in their own moment which I try to share with viewers within the timeless frame of a picture.

In my work there are no models. There are a variety of people including local personalities: From the old town's bar patrons and showgirls to old artisans that have worked their entire life in Zürich, to famous film directors.

All those portrayed, whether friends or acquaintances, respond to my need to represent a different perspective of Zürich, a different side of my home behind the stereotypical images of Switzerland.


Tell us something about your latest work, "Du liebe Zeit".

As I have always been inspired and have photographed mainly people, seven years ago I had the idea to do just the opposite. The book Du Liebe Zeit represents 267 people photographed within the second half of their life.

All of them, now over fifty, hold a picture of their youth in their hands. It is a time when they were twenty years old and their eyes were hungry for life, eager to conquer the world. Under each photo, there is a short statement which is the answer of each subject to the question "What does time mean to you?"

Christian Schwarz - Peter Fürer (2011)

Christian Schwarz - Alexandra Prusa (2012)

Christian Schwarz - Hanna Feurer

Christian Schwarz - Hans Feurer (2012)

This publication is more than just a photo art book, but a document allowing the viewer to reflect around the speed of life, of how time flies and that today is already the past.

If you are like me and you love the style and nostalgia of Christian's work, buy the books on his website or directly at the Coloritis Shop in Zürich's old town!

Christian Schwarz - Kurt Laurenz Metzler (2014)(All photographs copyright Christian Schwarz)


James Cole is a traveling banker, business man and hipster at heart. He never gets tired of traveling and meeting new people. When this Asian food addict is not roller skating, you might find him doing yoga.

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