Early work


Berlin Kreuzberg, 1969 – 1973
The working woman in Kreuzberg, 1975
Berlin-Wedding, 1976 – 1978
Berlin Cityscapes, 1979
Disadvantaged, 1980
Berlin-Kreuzberg. Cityscapes, 1981/82

Michael Schmidt discovered his interest in photography when he was a member of the West Berlin police force. He worked hard to improve his technique, intermittently in clubs of amateur photographers, but chiefly by himself. In the mid-1960s he made the first photographs he did not reject later.

By 1973 Schmidt was working as a professional photographer, having been commissioned by the district office in Kreuzberg to do a book on the district. It was published in 1973; a second edition was called for almost immediately. Other works followed, commissioned by other city districts and Berlin’s Senate.

By the early 1970s he began to give courses in photography at colleges of further education. In 1976 he founded the Werkstatt für Photographie (Workshop for Photography) at the Volkshochschule Kreuzberg, which kept going until 1986. Works of contemporary American photographers were shown there that had not previously been accessible to the public in Germany at that stage.

In 1977, he photographed the district Berlin-Wedding and its inhabitants, using a strictly documentary style. He enlarged his shots in prints rich in shades of grey and published the series in 1978.

In 1981, he accompanied four people with chronic illnesses and disabilities photographically in their everyday lives for the Senate. In Berlin-Kreuzberg. Stadtbilder (Berlin-Kreuzberg. Cityscapes), a photo book published in 1983, he began to turn away from the traditional documentary pictorial idiom and to experiment with more personal ways of seeing.