Photographers You Should Know: The Bechers by Erika Jacobs

The German husband and wife team are known for their systematic photography of disappearing industrial structures. If you’ve ever shot a project based on typology, or presented in a grid format, you should be aware of their work. (Everyone else knows them, you should too).

The Big Deal: Bernd and Hilla made their life’s work out of consistency. They photographed water cooling towers, cable winders, furnaces, and mining equipment with the same, straightforward approach each time. The images are presented as stark typologies: grids each comprised of one subject, allowing the viewer to compare and contrast the types displayed.

Life in Brief: Meeting in art school while studying painting, German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher begin photographing together in 1959. They marry in 1961 and continue their work for the next 40 years. Bernd dies in 2007; Hilla continues representing their work. 

Trivia tidbit: Students of “The Becher School” include Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, and Candida Höfer. 

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Erika Jacobs is a Toronto-based freelance photographer and the co-creator of the Knock Twice blog, which is where a version of this post originally appeared. It's is an online resource to assist and inform budding creative professionals. You can visit Knock Twice here.


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