As a child of the 1980s, he was undoubtedly born 30 years too early or 30 years too late. Supposedly too young to celebrate the once glamorous era of photography and yet too old to come to terms with today’s developments in photography. He is an analogue player trapped in a digital world.
But let’s go back to the beginning. The desire to pursue a creative purpose in life grew in Alexander von Wiedenbeck at a very young age. It was his wish to create something “real”. But as is so often the case in life, he was to lose sight of this path. Having gone astray training to be a car mechanic and then completing a commercial apprenticeship, his professional career finally took him into the world of media in a round about way after studying when he founded his own advertising agency in 2004.
Dazzled by the creative options on offer to him at the beginning, the magic faded with the years though and he realised that he was just a puppet of the consumer society. Selling untruths, presenting facts differently to what they actually are, that was his daily bread a lot of times. His clientèle was “bien sur” very high class and his agency’s client base included reputable brands. But the bigger the budget the more it resembled a kind of prostitution and his personal fulfilment was increasingly overshadowed by the slavery of his services.
It was time to consciously live life again, to limit himself to the essentials and to pursue his dreams, whatever the cost. And so Alexander left everything behind him in 2012 and started his first independent production of the Obsession for Freedom photo book. It was a kind of “revolution back to the old values” for him. In doing so, he limited himself exclusively to black and white photography for the first time, which as he says himself, actually limits the images and emotions to just the essentials. To that what his dreams always aspired to – something “real”.
Alexander once called it “a leap into uncertainty”, which you can undoubtedly agree with him on. But this newly achieved freedom, the escape from the prostitution that had bound him, is an infinitely precious gift that it is worth striving for. And as a result, he can look back on lots of these independent creative productions today. Whether it’s a campaign for a fashion label, a magazine editorial, a famous person’s portrait, or a reportage on a profound issue like war or poverty, in every case he has expressed what drives him – the essentials.
Alexander has found a new passion and his personal empathy in the form of social projects with the latter in particular, the reportage. As a result, he travelled to the Philippines in 2015 together with the German “Aktionsgruppe Kinder in Not e.V.” aid organisation to visit the children living in cemeteries and on rubbish dumps there and take portraits of them. This series resulted in a touring exhibition where all the proceeds from the sales of exhibits and the exhibition catalogue were donated to those projects on the Philippines where the photographs were actually taken.
In the same year, just after his trip to the Philippines, he was also involved in another transnational project by the international CARE aid organisation, which works on empowering women in Nepal, Uganda and Ethiopia. Alexander saw a significant link to his actual genre, fashion photography, in the women’s rights issues, as the respect and rights of female players is still an issue even in the Western world. It therefore simply seemed consistent with his own world view to get involved here. The resulting photographs are now being incorporated into publications on the issue of women’s rights and will be displayed at numerous charity exhibitions arranged by the aid organisation.
Today, in his mid-30s, Alexander von Wiedenbeck has reinvented himself so often to finally end up where he is now – in the midst of life. Having finally found personal fulfilment and the photography that he once was supposedly too young for. Capturing genuine, authentic moments that celebrate “real” photography, regardless of today’s modern and yet bedazzled understanding of the same, he does exclusively what his heart desires – he photographs the essentials!