Kai-Uwe Gundlach's downtime downtown photos

After a shoot the advertising photographer drops his crew and opens up the aperture for long-exposure cityscapes
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Hong Kong by Kai-Uwe Gundlach
Hong Kong by Kai-Uwe Gundlach

You might have come across German photographer Kai-Uwe Gundlach's work beforewithout realising it. He's the photographer behind countless adverts for Mercedes-Benz, Audi and HP among many others and has had his work featured on billboards and magazine pages across the world. But while traveling, Gundlach spends his spare time photographing the cities he's visiting, and it was those images, from a recent trip to Hong Kong, that caught our eye.

 

Hong Kong by Kai-Uwe Gundlach
Hong Kong by Kai-Uwe Gundlach

Gundlach, who trained with several advertising photographers in and around Hamburg before going it alone, finds himself frequently in some of the world's tallest cities and uses these opportunities to photograph their skyscrapers.

"Each journey is different," Gundlach tells FStop. "Sometimes I photograph my hotel room; sometimes I shoot out the window of a moving car. It's not a particular thing I'm looking for. I'm looking on each job, on each trip, for new things."

Often shot from inside the buildings themselves, his images capture skyscrapers from dizzying new angles. Rather than being dwarfed by them, the viewer instead sees the full expanse of the city unfold before him. 

 

Hong Kong by Kai-Uwe Gundlach
Hong Kong by Kai-Uwe Gundlach

"For jobs, I have a big crew and lots of technical equipment around me so I don't have the flexibility to shoot other stuff. It can be boring," he says. "Sometimes in busy cities I shoot cityscapes or landscapes with a small amount of civilization in them. The typical postcards of landscapes and blue skies are not interesting to me." Instead, Gundlach's signature hazy yellow and cyan colour palette ties much of his work together.

 

Hong Kong by Kai-Uwe Gundlach
Hong Kong by Kai-Uwe Gundlach

"I often like the colour tone of Polaroids," he explains. "If I get the contacts or the transparencies it looks totally different. Often I tell my retoucher to look at the Polaroids first, and go in that direction with the colour tones. Then sometimes he turns it a bit more and adjusts the colour tones to make them more interesting. I often like to go just in the light with a bit more yellow and in the shadows a bit more blue tone."

Producing commercial work for clients such as BMW, Audi, Smart, HP, Mercedes-Benz and the Qatar Financial Centre, Gundlach has a large production and CGI team working with him. At the end of such a shoot however, he prefers to work alone.

 

Hong Kong by Kai-Uwe Gundlach
Hong Kong by Kai-Uwe Gundlach

"It's a very interesting job," Gundlach says. "I like the combination for jobs. I have learned a lot from jobs that required a lot of postproduction. But for my personal work, I prefer to shoot more simply. It's just the Linhof [large-format camera]  - open the lens for six minutes, shut down, and print the picture. It's a very simple method."

See more of Gunlach's pictures here. For more stunning aerial shots, take a look at our brilliant EarthArt book. For greater insight into life in the world's most populous environments, consider our book, Living in the Endless City. Buy them both from the people who made them, here.


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