Utah-native Matthew Jorgensen has been running the website “A Peoples' Picture” for a number of years in the United States, leaving disposable cameras with a note taped to them in public places. He decided to bring his project with him when he moved to Dresden, Saxony, last May.
“At first I thought that Germans might not pick up the camera at all,” he told The Local, explaining that he imagined they would be less likely to do something so random. “But I was wrong and they took to it as well as people in the States.”
So far Jorgensen, 28, has dotted four cameras around Dresden, largely in parks. The resulting photos showed, he said, that the Germans were trying to be more seriously creative compared to their US counterparts.
German snappers also tended to take a couple of photos nearby and return the camera, while in the United States, people would take the camera for several hours before returning it.
“This project was started as part of an effort to get people to notice the beauty around them every day,” the note stuck to the camera reads, inviting the finder to pick it up and be creative. Instructions can also be found on the website detailing how people can make their own disposable drop, should they have the urge.
“People clearly like taking photos of the most beautiful things around them, normally their partner, family or friends,” said Jorgensen. “This makes it a rewarding hobby and one which reminds me of the good in people.”
None of the developed films have rendered any weird photos, which initially was a shock to the Humboldt scholarship scientist. “It's a chance for people to take a picture of anything without consequences as it's completely anonymous.”
One of the only hitches so far with the German edition of “A Peoples' Picture” is that two of the cameras disappeared, something that was more unusual in America.
“I don't think people are stealing them though,” said Jorgensen, adding that it was more likely that they were a little confused.
Jorgensen, a nano-scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden hopes, he said, to take on some of the country's bigger cities. “Especially Berlin, it's a really creative place and creates some really interesting photography,” he said.
Until then, he's waiting for an unfinished camera which he has been trying to get Dresden students to use. But putting it out in the morning “accompanied with a note in very basic German” on the university campus before returning in the afternoon to collect it has yet proved unsuccessful.
“I'm not too sure the university students are into it, maybe they're too serious,” he said.