Of pens and pencils – sketching and a sense of place

(above: Charlottenburg, Berlin – Rolf Schröter)

I first met Rolf Schröter when we organised a Slow Travel Day at the Circus last year, and he came along with the other members of Urban Sketchers Berlin to put together a sketching tour for people who fancied the chance at trying to capture their immediate environment on paper. Since then we have seen each other a handful of times, usually at a similar events, and I think that I probably would not recognise Rolf if he did not have his trusty sketchbook in hand.

To get a sense of what Urban Sketching means to Rolf, you should check out his article on Slow Travel Berlin. Here ‘s an extract:

“Although it’s only quick sketching there’s always this feeling of “stepping outside of the moment”. You’re outside the movement and everybody else is in it. The drawing gives you a reason to stand and watch, a gesture that would not be always be accepted socially without a sketchbook in hand. In this state my relation to the environment changes, because I am not heading towards anything – I try to let the sketching just “happen”. I start to see things – and the relationship between things – that I would not have noticed before; if things go well, this might find its way into the sketch and be of some kind of common interest at the same time.”

Funnily enough, this sums up how I personally feel about writing a “sketch” about a place, or indeed the approach to photography that most appeals to me. It is about getting the sense of a place, and taking the time to step back and observe, to see those things “I would not have noticed before.” It is all about capturing a moment, to use the pen, the pencil or the camera lens to help gain a greater understanding of a place that may be a new discovery, but that can just as well be somewhere totally familiar.

(above: Kaster, Rhineland – Rolf Schröter)

(above: Sophie-Charlotte-Platz, Berlin – Rolf Schröter)

(above: Sardine Cannery, Istria – Rolf Schröter)

You can see more of Rolf’s sketches on his blog.

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