About me

My name is Bernd Spyra (中文名字叫徐辨德). I’m 34 years old and just finished my PhD at Hamburg University, where I researched the history of photography in the People’s Republic of China. Besides photography, my research interests are the visual and material culture of 19th and 20th-century China.

In addition to research, I enjoy to practice photography myself, the results of which I want to present here. I restrict myself to “classic” monochrome film photography for a handful of reasons: I like how the photochemical process results in a physical artifact with its own aura, something sorely lacking from purely digital photography; I can’t reasonably do colour processing in my darkroom/bathroom (and I don’t like the idea of giving an exposed film to someone else for developing) and last but not least I just like the look of a nice monochrome picture, its way of showing the grit or essence of a scene. Recently I employ a hybrid workflow, meaning I shoot my pictures on film, develop the negatives myself, then scan them and do the “darkroom work” on my computer.

Apart from limited social/cultural documentary projects, which depending on the project can be over after a few weeks or go on indefinitely, I especially like to practice reflexive photography, i.e. photography without aims or goals as a spontaneous reaction to a visual or emotional impulse. Most of the single photos seen on these pages belong to this category.


96 Photos of Small-Town Japan. Selfpublished.

at the Nachladen in Sternstraße 17, Hamburg.

at the Nachladen in Sternstraße 17, Hamburg.

at Asien-Afrika-Institut der Universität Hamburg
in cooperation with:
Konfuzius-Institut an der Universität Hamburg e.V.
Hamburger Sinologische Gesellschaft e.V.

with Francoise Le Boulanger, at Künstlerhaus Bergedorf

with Dorothea Ney, at Asien-Afrika-Institut der Universität Hamburg