Our thanks to Aggie Morganti for getting in touch to share a love of Anders Petersen’s ‘Cafe Lehmitz’.
If anyone wants to continue the conversation with Aggie, you can do so on Twitter, here.
I’ve often wondered what makes Cafe Lehmitz so special to me. It’s not only about its exquisite photography, its visual intensity, its emotive tension running through the edit. That special something is, somehow, a step backwards, hiding in the making itself rather than in the final object.
I am amazed every time I flip through it by its unique way of being so rich and so poor at the same time. It is rich in all the above mentioned, and poor in pretentiousness. Straightforward, down to earth, honest-to-God report of what had to be reported – and nothing else. The book itself is stripped down to the bare essentials and it only makes me love the fancy title lettering even more, so much that I almost see it blinking on and off as a neon light from a bar would do in the dark of night.
It’s so transparent you can see through it – or feel you’re there. And the reason why I love it so much is that I have a very personal photographic memory related to Cafe Lehmitz (I’ll be brief – promise).
So, I was around 20 and I had just started to discovery what you could do with documentary photography in terms of storytelling and powerful narratives. It was a gloomy afternoon in December, in Lucca, and I was attending photojournalist Massimo Mastrorillo’s workshop on such matters.
To provide us with guidance and advice, he had brought some of his favourite photobooks with him (and many of them would also become a pick of my favourites later on, such as Billingham’s Ray’s a Laugh or Telex Iran by Gilles Peress). The table was literally flooded with wonderful things, and I remember this little, black and white white compact book striking me straight on. Cafe Lehmitz was special to him as well, for Massimo’s main advice to us was to follow what really means to us in our photography. To follow what literally grabs your heart and your stomach and does not let you go, to photograph what you love, in any possible way.
So, as I have tweeted before – this is what I’ve always found in Cafe Lehmitz from that moment on. Love, warmth of heart, being human, humble and true. That’s what I like about it and what I think of every time I start doing something photographic.
– Aggie Morganti