Sometimes, we all need to see things from a different viewpoint to gain a little perspective. And in our eyes, one of the best (and most enjoyable) ways of doing this is by looking at Bernhard Lang’s photography. In the past, we’ve seen him take on solar plants, fish farms, fields of tulips and phosphate mines from a breathtaking aerial perspective. We’ve oo’d and aah’d at his shots, which don’t seem quite real on first glances, but on further inspection, are discovered to be a cluster of chairs on the beach, coal mines, or even, a stack of crates.
The Munich-based photographer had planned to shoot a totally different project when he came across this beverage production yard in Ruhr, in last November. Originally, he had planned to shoot the largest conurbation in Germany – conurbation being an extended urban area consisting of several towns which merge with the city – and in preparation for this shoot, something caught his eye on satellite imagery. Thousands of crates sorted by colour and assembled in long lines, stood satisfyingly in the distance.
“I wanted to capture just a few shots of the crate stacks location,” Bernhard tells It’s Nice That, “But when I looked through the viewfinder and saw how interesting the crate stacks looked, we spontaneously changed the plan and flew over the location several times from different heights and angles to get as many interesting and different motives as possible.” Flying over the stacks, which look more like some kind of digitally rendered bar chart than real life, the photographer captured a little known aspect of the drinks industry.
Across Germany, the beverage industry employs around 60,000 people in more than 500 sub companies. And as Bernhard circled the air in the small plane, he was struck by the overwhelming graphics of the block colours “spontaneously captivated [him].” The photographer continues, “What I find remarkable is that, for a bird’s eye view, the thousands of stacked beverage crates do not look like the hard work of experienced forklift drivers, but rather like a Tetris game or a PowerPoint diagram.”
It goes to show, no matter how many times Bernhard takes to the air, the stance he returns with never fails to surprise. From the skies, Bernhard presents us viewers with a different way to look at the world. What may seem trivial or unalarmingly ubiquitous in every day life, like a crate for instance, is seen in a totally new light from the way Bernhard twists and turns the camera lens from high above. In turn, for the photographer, this matter at hand is the most challenging aspect of the shoot, as he works out how to get that money shot.
With the camera in one hand, he carries out the tricky task of shooting from above by directing the pilot. Instructing the pilot with accuracy, the plane weaved through altitudes and a number of appropriate flight paths to capture a wide array of shots. No stranger to shooting from the skies out of planes and helicopters, for Bernhard, the consistent goal is to find “the best shooting perspectives within a limited time,” a doable feat for someone who’s amassed a portfolio of aerials photography. No matter how many times he takes to the air however, for us viewers, it never gets boring. And with each new series, we can rediscover a sense of beauty we didn’t know existed in the first place.
GalleryBernhard Lang: Crate Stacks
Bernhard Lang: Crate Stacks
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.