It’s a crazy story: in 2014, Paul Ripke is glued to the television, watching Germany play its World Cup matches in Brazil. As the final draws ever closer, he is itching to be there in person. A photographer, Ripke already knows the team, having previously done portrait shoots for the German Football Federation (DFB). He has not been commissioned for Brazil, however. So he screws up his courage and sends a mail to team manager Oliver Bierhoff, asking for permission to join the team in Rio. One day before the final, he is given the green light. Ripke flies to Brazil, gains spectator access to the stadium with the help of the DFB, storms the pitch after the final whistle and takes the most important pictures in his life. After the World Cup victory he published a selection of the most emotional and most intimate moments in a volume entitled “One Night in Rio”, over 100,000 copies of which have been sold.
Enthusiasm, spontaneity and proximity
If he wasn’t already before, Paul Ripke has certainly become one of Germany’s most sought-after photographers ever since landing this coup. He works with athletes and musicians, has had German national team member Jerome Boateng in his studio, has accompanied the rock band “Die Toten Hosen” on tour, and numbers Hugo Boss and other well-known brands among his clients. And yet Paul Ripke has no formal training in photography. At the age of eleven or twelve he began experimenting with his father’s camera while skateboarding. “To be honest, I was simply too rubbish at skateboarding, so my role became clear fairly quickly – I was the photo guy”, he explains. Later he had a hip hop craze, which landed him his first job taking photos for a music magazine.
What sets Ripke apart above all is his enthusiasm for his work, his spontaneity and the proximity he establishes to his subjects. “Once I have finished a job, I have no desire to spend months editing and enhancing the photos. I do precisely one editing session and then set off for my next job.” Paul Ripke, who is 35, will be moving with his family to Los Angeles this summer, where he plans to set up a “Ripkedemy” and train young photographers – assuming he doesn’t suddenly pop up at Euro 2016 in France, that is.