Thorsten von Overgaard Smokes Cigarettes, Drinks Coffee, Takes Photographs

Shot over seven days in Rome, Italy, this short film documents the process and beliefs of photographer Thorsten von Overgaard.

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“Maybe the most important thing that I try to teach people and inspire them to believe is that they have a unique viewpoint,” says Danish photographer Thorsten von Overgaard, sitting in a cafe in Rome, sipping an espresso and smoking a cigarette. “You have that viewpoint. And if you have a camera, you can record that viewpoint.”

On the table in front of him is a Leica, resting on its lens. “It’s really important that the camera is just a tool for your viewpoint,” von Overgaard adds. “Leica is the only one who has managed to keep it simple.” He speaks about teaching people photography. In the classes, he teaches people all that he knows, from start to finish, about the art. Then, they ask him if they can learn more next year. But he says, befuddled: “I just taught you everything!” He believes that’s the moment when people need to find their own inspiration. You have education and your tool, and now, you need inspiration. In Rome, inspiration is all around, and what matters then is that you are ready when the inspiration crosses your vision. That’s when you encounter the final step: action.

“When I look at the winning photographs in competitions, when I judge, it’s always photographs that just happened. It’s never somebody who planned something and set it up. It’s somebody who just had a camera with them and something happened and they just caught that moment.”

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