“Café Lehmitz” by Anders Petersen

Prestel (Prestel Publishing) is republishing the groundbreaking book that established Petersen as one of the leading proponents of subjective photography. Made when Andersen was just 23, these images offer a captivating and compassionate look at the tender side of those whose life has been hardened by misfortune or circumstance.

Anders Petersen is a well-known Swedish photographer born in 1944 in Stockholm, Sweden. He is best known for his intimate and gritty black-and-white photographs of people, often from the margins of society. Petersen’s work is characterized by his raw and unflinching approach, as well as his ability to capture the human condition in all its complexity.

Petersen studied photography at the Christer Strömholm School in Stockholm in the 1960s and has since become one of Sweden’s most acclaimed photographers. He has published several books of his work, including “Café Lehmitz” (1978), a seminal work documenting the patrons of a Hamburg bar, “City Diary” (2011), and “Soho” (2012).

This march of 2023 we’ve learned that Prestel Publishing is bringing all this magic back with the renewed release of “Café Lehmitz”. This gives us a glorious opportunity to look back and remember that Petersen has exhibited his work internationally and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2003. His photographs are held in the collections of major museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Anders Petersen’s style of photography is characterized by its raw, intimate, and unflinching approach. He often focuses on people who are marginalized or living on the fringes of society, such as prostitutes, alcoholics, and drug addicts, and his images capture their humanity in a way that is both honest and compassionate.

Petersen’s photographs are often shot in black and white, which enhances the starkness and contrast of his subjects. He has a keen eye for detail and composition, and his images are often tightly cropped, emphasizing the emotion and intensity of his subjects.

What sets Petersen’s work apart from other documentary photographers is his ability to establish a deep and intimate connection with his subjects. He spends months or even years getting to know the people he photographs, building trust, and forming a relationship that allows him to capture their innermost selves. This approach is evident in the emotional depth and authenticity of his images.

Now, as a long-time fan of Ellen von Unwerth’s work, I personally gravitated toward Petersen’s work because, in my opinion, they share some of the same qualities. While Anders Petersen and Ellen von Unwerth have different subject matters and themes in their photography, there are some similarities in their styles:

  1. Intimacy: Both Petersen and von Unwerth have a knack for capturing the intimate and private moments of their subjects. They both create a sense of closeness and familiarity in their photographs that draws the viewer into the image.
  2. Black and White: Petersen and von Unwerth both frequently use black and white photography in their work, which can enhance the contrast and drama of their images. This approach can also lend a timeless quality to the photographs.
  3. Rawness: Both photographers have an affinity for capturing raw and unfiltered emotions and expressions. They often choose subjects that are unconventional or edgy, and their images can be gritty or provocative.
  4. Documentary Style: While von Unwerth is more known for her fashion photography and Petersen for his documentary work, both photographers have an eye for capturing a sense of realism in their images. They both convey a sense of authenticity and honesty in their photographs that give them a sense of depth and meaning beyond just aesthetics.

If you share our interest in intimacy, black-and-white photography, rawness, and documentary-style images, look no further than this gem right here.

Also available at the Publisher’s website:


Harel Sharon
Editor in Chief
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