Potsdamer Platz. Berlin

Potsdamer Platz. Berlin

This is Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, around 1999, at the time the biggest building site in Europe. It looks very different today, all glass, steel and concrete, but there are hidden costs for everything.
In 1999 the vast site that was the beginning of the Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz was a hugely cluttered array of massive metal pipes and concrete pylons.
After taking the above picture and finishing the roll of film I headed home, it was cold, dark and I wanted to be away from this noisy place. Just before I entered the subway station a young man who was guiding a crane stacking huge underground pipes on the ground somehow managed to get his arm caught under a pipe as it was laid on the stack. I along with other passersby heard his agonized scream, and saw the frantic attempts of other workers as they attempted to free him and call for help. Separated from the building site by a high chain link metal fence there was nothing we could do but watch in horror.
No mobile phones in those days, only walkie talkies. It took over five minutes to get the pipe shifted, a life time for the man trapped, and who knows how much longer it took to get him to hospital. Even as I write this I can still clearly hear the choking roar of outrage and pain.
The photo was shot hand held with Ilford HP5, 400ASA, 120 film. The camera, a Bronica SQA with a standard 6×6 back and a 50mm wide angle lens. The exposure was around 4 seconds. I know this because I had perfected a technique of hand-held night shots with this camera.


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