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.

Apart from research, I like 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.


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