Peter Andres · Retrospective


Chapter 2

The beginning

Today there is a camera in every pocket. It used to be different. A camera was an expensive instrument and not easy to use successfully.

I received my first camera from my father. He had bought one of the latest SLR cameras for his architectural photography. A Nikon F. So I received his old camera. I received the Nikon F a few years later. It was my faithful companion for a long time until it too had to make way for an F3, F5 and a few others.

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The first cameras The first cameras

Zeiss Ikon - Contina, Rollei 35...

My father was an architect and needed a few cameras to photograph his buildings. But what do you do with the discarded ones? Ideally, I got the first ones when I was about 15 years old. I even found some of the early photos in the archive. But they aren't spectacular.

Soon after, my father showed me the basic options for developing film and enlarging the black and white images.

That was the beginning of something more than just a passion.

Our names are Schäru, Türu and I, Pesche.
It was the big trip 1970 from Berne to Ascona. By moped, of course.

What is a camera for? What is a camera for?

The firste Nikon... an F

I soon realized how to use a camera. Aperture, exposure time and ISO values ​​ (still DIN at the time) and how it all worked together quickly became clear to me. I also soon realized what one can do with the camera.

Taking photos outside was nice, but experimenting with the camera was much more exciting. The first systematic conceptual work began. It was the start of microphotography.

My first conceptual work in 1976

The photos show crystallizations of developer fluid in polarized light. This are structures just a few millimeters in size.

For the photos I used normal slide film with a SLR camera, my dad’s Nikon F. Only the lenses were special. They came from old 8 mm film cameras, which I used in retro position. This made it technically possible to produce a better image. Good photos would not have been possible with normal 35mm lenses.

My first photo book was also made with these pictures. It contains enlargements on Cibachrom that I made myself in the darkroom.

Crystallizations in polarized light Crystallizations in polarized light Crystallizations in polarized light Crystallizations in polarized light Crystallizations in polarized light



And outside?

Of course I also photographed larger series in nature: Misty landscapes, shortly before or after sunrise. Today I see this work from a completely different perspective: The pictures were taken shortly before my coming out. They reflect my inner feeling at the time. This inner state changed shortly afterwards. My pictures became radically different!

Solothurn picture series Photographed early in the morning in the fog, usually before or shortly after sunrise in October and November.
Solothurn, early in the morning in the fog Solothurn, early in the morning in the fog Solothurn, early in the morning in the fog Solothurn - Bellach, early in the morning



Something closer?

Bern and Biel were also my photo Eldorado. Thousands of pictures were taken over many years.

>The first trips to Asia The first trips to Asia

A second passion - traveling

Away from home! Finished my studies! Into freedom!
How do you do that? Traveling is the order of the day!

But not just around the corner!

Dream destination: ASIA!

Shortly after I finished my studies, I was able to afford my first big trip to Asia. Alone to Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Half a year.

My luggage consisted mainly of cameras, lenses, black and white and slide films. There was barely enough room for the rest in my backpack.

This is why this subchapter is a bit longer.
(It contains around 200 photos.)

Ich, Peter Andres

And here he is, the backpacker. Back in 1977. But only with light hand luggage, the camera.

Even today, after more than 40 years, I still benefit from all the experiences; a great enrichment of my life.

First acquaintances

Durian! A wonderful fruit, wonderful once you've opened it. Can't be compared to anything. But not everyone's dream candidate... I loved it!

Durian! The terror of all "normal" tourists.

Drive on Kok-River — Thailand

Chiang Mai, 1977

The ideal travel destination for backpackers. Chiang Mai was a small town at the time, more of a village. Hardly known, but there was a lot to discover. The market was fantastic, lots of unknowns, everything full of surprises.

Further north, beyond the Kok River, things got even more interesting.

Chiang Mai, Thailand 1977
The market
Chiang Mai, Thailand 1977
...with music
Coca Cola (in Thai)
Try to read it...I've already got that too
Bridge over the Kok River
Bridge over the Kok River
Get the Honey Moon Set here!
Chiang Mai, Thailand 1977
Even back then there was all sorts of stuff to buy. Of course the Honey-Moon set too.
Hill Tribes

The north of Chiang Mai: Hill Tribes

Tourism was just beginning back then. Young Chiang Mai men were already offering hikes in the north. I was there with two other backpackers.

Today you can still do a similar tour. It is now called «Sustainable Chiang Mai Coffee Tour with a Hill Tribe cultural Experience». You no longer need to walk. It is «easier»... However, you will hardly see any fields of opium poppies.

After a bumpy ride on a Bemo, a track, from Chiang Mai to the Kok River and a long hike afterwards, we reached the villages of the hill tribes where we could spend the night. Today it would be easier. The Mae Fah Luang - Chiang Rai International Airport is nearby.

In the first Karen village, the bed consisted of a standard bamboo cot, about 30 cm above the ground. But this was built for Karen. They were a lot smaller than us. That's why the chief of the village immediately took out his big knife and artfully extended the cot.
Imagine such a service from us…

Hill Tribes: Karen Hill Tribes: Karen Hill Tribes: Karen

Hill Tribes: Indigene im Karen-Dorf

Kok-River. This was our first overnight stay.
Mountain landscape, view from the Karen village
Mountain landscape, view from the Karen village
Karen village
Karen village, this was our first overnight stay
Karen village
Karen Village
The Golden Triangle

From there it wasn't far to the Golden Triangle. You had to go there! According to what we were told, we also got to Burma on foot, which was of course illegal. Trying out the local "herbs" was part of the concept of the trip.

Walk to the Golden Triangle Trying the local “herbs” Opium poppy, scratched to extract opium Our guide prepared the herbs for our use
Golden Triangle, Poppyfield
Golden Triangle, Poppyfield
Opium poppy
Opium poppy
Our guides prepare the local herbs
Preparing the local herbs
My travel partner with an opium pipe. I came later...
Opium pipe



The journey continued to Chiang Rai by boat on the Kok River, close to the Burmese border.

There were military attacks from both sides. According to our guides, our journey was not dangerous, because we were accompanied by Thai soldiers. Shots were fired into the bushes a few times. A resounding demonstration.

On the way to Chiang Rai
On the way to Chiang Rai
Our boat captain
Our boat captain
The accompanying crew ensures our safety
The accompanying crew for our security
Sometimes shots were fired into the bushes. A resounding demonstration!
Sometimes shots were fired into the bushes


Jeepney Drivers — Philippines

Rice cultivation in the mountains around Sagada

I wanted to travel to the Philippines the following year. North Luzon with the rice terraces was the first destination.

First image: Approximative Map of Sagada and surroundings

Approximative Map of Sagada and surroundings Northern Luzon Northern Luzon Northern Luzon with the rice terraces
Rice terraces early in the morning Rice terraces Far above Sagada Working on the rice fields Working on the rice fields View of the rice terraces


Talavera Province

January 1980, stopover on the way back to Manila. Talavera, north of Manila, far away from any tourism. There I stayed in a bamboo house together with the local population. I enjoyed great hospitality!

The wonderfully prepared food, straight from the local market. Cheese, wrapped in banana leaves! We never had anything like that back then (and now).

Visiting the local people I was, of course, the only one with a beard. That was very noticeable... Cheese wrapped in banana leaves! The cheese unpacked


Manila Downtown

Jeepneys – the former symbol of the Philippines

Public transport in downtown Manila. That was in 1980. Today, unfortunately, these wonderful means of transport are hardly to be seen anymore.

They were originally old Willys jeeps that the Americans left behind after their withdrawal from the Philippines. They were quickly converted into minibuses by the Filipinos and are considered a typical Filipino means of transport.

Jeepneys have been lovingly converted, modified, beautified and maintained. It would be so nice to have them here too. However, they would fail our traffic controls by a landslide.

Sexy Riders — The name says it all!
Sexy Riders — The name says it all!

The Sexy Riders photos got me advertised again during the Polaroid hype for some "instant pictures".
More on this in the chapter 'The way to the studio: Pola Works'.

Willys-Special — The ultimate original
Willys-Special — The ultimate original
Horses and roosters provide powerful propulsion
Horses and roosters provide powerful propulsion

From Sexy Riders to Love me Tender to Prise the Lord

I took the color pictures in Manila in 1980. The black and white pictures were taken in Cebu in 2002.
The speed and driving style of the Filipinos leaves even our hottest drivers in the shade!


Mindoro, Puerto Galera

In 1980, Puerto Galera was one of the deserted beaches on the island of Mindoro. However, local tourism already existed.

My companion lived in Manila and traded T-shirts. We met in the guesthouse on a small beach.

With Gina, I was never quite sure whether she was a man or a woman... He/she was the companion of the other backpacker in the same guesthouse.

In the guesthouse In the guesthouse Men Gina
Gina Gina My companion


The south of the Philippines

Camiguin, Mindanao, Davao

Camiguin is a small island off Mindanao. At that time, far away from any tourism. Here I had my first really impressive contact with a coconut. It fell from a height of about 20 meters, two meters next to me. I was lucky again in my life!

My next destination was Davao in the south of Mindanao. The boat trip to Mindanao and the trip to Cagayan de Oro were no problem.

The hitchhiker's guide recommended the route along the coast, as there were good roads there. But that would be about 1000 km. But how about going right through Mindanao? The hitchhiker's guidebook said: Forget the route!

But I tried it anyway. After asking around a bit, I got some good information:

  • A jeepney leaves at 6 a.m., you change once.
  • It takes two days, with an overnight stay in a camp in the mountains.
  • After that, you'll soon be in Davao.
Art. You can find it on the beach... Art. You can find it on the beach High Tech, preparation for Christmas business in Cagayan de Oro


The trip to Davao

Perfect, no problem at all, at least at first. Soon we were driving over bumpy roads. Shortly afterwards it was a real stream bed. So we got out and pushed! We reached the camp just before dusk. Here I was warmly greeted by a lady.

She was white, middle-aged, busty, with a perfectly broad US-English accent and offered me a tour of her station. I immediately agreed, but had to promise not to take any photos.

What I saw was extremely interesting! There were power generators, air conditioning systems, Digital Equipment Computer PDP-11 and terminals VT52…! I was able to talk shop with her very well, we talked about hardware and software.

I was very familiar with computers and terminals. The computers were the size of wall cabinets. I worked at home in Solothurn at Autophon, where I was employed, with the same devices. Remember: that was in 1980. Laptops had not yet been invented. And the Internet certainly wasn't!

On the way to Cagayan de Oro The condition of the road was a bit more difficult In the highlands of Mindanao Stopover in the highlands of Mindanao


Computers – at the end of the world...?

Well, guess what you do with such high-tech devices «in the middle of nowhere»?

In this station, dictionaries of the language of local indigenous people were created.
But what can you use such dictionaries for?

They were used to translate the Bible!
I was in the middle of the last white spot on the Christian world map.

Welcome to the camp Today you would be invited for selfies Indigenous people in the highlands of Mindanao Indigenous people in the highlands of Mindanao Welcome, indigenous people in the highlands Welcome dance of the indigenous people in the highlands of Mindanao



It continues in a Christian way... Davao was soon reached the following day. It was December 25, 1980. Sun, tropical heat, blue sky, just as you would imagine Christmas to be!

Stopover just before Davao  Where there's a goal, there's a way... Davao, Christmas. Hopefully the mega durian doesn't close... Davao, Christmas Davao, Christmas in wonderfully hot weather Davao, Christmas Davao, Christmas


Palme — Indonesia


Tana Toraja

The Toraja are a people on the highlands Tana Toraja on the island of Sulawesi. Organized tourism was already emerging in 1980. There were not many visitors yet. And if there were, the nightmare was over after an hour. I was the only hitchhiker.

The Toraja build wonderful houses based on architectural traditions from centuries ago. Their funeral ceremonies are just as famous.

The people are extraordinarily friendly. I was also invited to a funeral ceremony with buffalo fights. It would have been almost an insult not to go.

Houses in Tana Toraja Houses in Tana Toraja Houses in Tana Toraja Houses in Tana Toraja
Funeral ceremony Buffalo fight Big procession Here the buffalo won Who wants more... Gravesite Gravesite Procession Gravesite Gravesite Gravesite




From Medan we head up to the plateau to Berastagi. A longer stopover is recommended here, because the market is far more than worth seeing.

The smell of fish at the market is unmistakable. Durian has an even more intense smell. Europeans usually run away in panic. I love them as soon as they're open. But wait! They're prickly, almost impossible to hold in your hands. I wanted to take two with me the next day and put them in my room the night before. That wasn't a smart idea, because it smelled so bad that night that it was impossible to sleep. The two durians were a gift...

I was also sitting in this Bemo, as these extremely practical means of transport are called here. As you can imagine, there were all kinds of vegetables, fruits (including durian), chickens, firewood and more.

The market in Berastagi At the market in Berastagi Durian. Not for tourists!
My shopping is ready I'm at the back of the Bemo. Under a lot of vegetables, of course. Entrance to the market in Berastagi
The composition is magnificent! We didn't invent recycling. Jackfruit Village near Lake Toba, Sumatra



My mother talked a lot about her childhood, because the environment was "slightly" different from what we normally have here. For example, there was the snake in the chicken coop that blocked her brother's exit or the dog that was eaten by the tiger. My interest was piqued!

My grandfather, born in 1889 in Frutigen, was a doctor. After his studies, the Swiss state examination and a little later the state examination in Amsterdam in Dutch, he and his wife were drawn out into the wide world. That was in January 1918. He wanted to go to Sumatra as a specialist in tropical diseases to build a hospital there. The path there was not exactly easy, because the First World War was still raging. Her journey with her one-year-old son was, to say the least, unimaginably difficult, because a direct route was impossible as the Suez Canal was closed due to the war.

My mother was born in 1920 in Negaga, North Sumatra. But the story begins a little earlier. It was often told to me by my grandfather and my mother.

Hospital in Negaga, Sumatra The hospital was built under the direction of my grandfather in 1918. My grandfather worked here as a doctor for 12 years Drinking tee...

Their journey first went to Spain. There they had to wait six weeks for the ship to America. Then they set off. But after a short journey the ship was stopped by the German military. There was talk of sinking it. Only my grandfather and the second Swiss on board, Gottlieb Duttweiler, were the only German-speaking people. After intensive negotiations the ship was able to return to Spain. After a few weeks the crossing to New York was successful. Then across the USA and another ship to Sumatra.

In the province Asahan Regency (North Sumatra) my grandfather built the hospital in Negaga. The family grew, my mother was the first child born there. Four more followed.

If you're already in the "area", it would be worth taking a look! My mother drew me a map and some location information, all from her memory after more than 50 years. After all, Google Maps didn't exist back then. Even today, Negaga is still nowhere to be found. But I did it! Hour-long bus ride past many palm oil plantations, asking around, showing my plan…

My mother told me about these trees As a child she could climb around here There she is, the «Kereta Api»


My mother had told me a lot about the steam locomotive. In Indonesian it is called "Kereta Api", which, according to my mother, translates back as "fire horse". A more correct term would be fire train. This was a direct indication that I was in more or less the right place.

I found the hospital and was warmly welcomed there. Some photos of my detour can be seen here.

Here are some inspirations for travel options from Medan and the surrounding area...

Selamat Jalan, safe journey! Selamat Jalan, safe journey! And it works! Shortly after Selamat Jalan Ideal, there's always air conditioning up there



Puncak Pass

Trips to Java, Bali and other islands in Indonesia followed. The first was in 1980. Here are some pictures of that.

The route from Jakarta to Bandung led over the Puncak Pass. It was cold and foggy. Very unusual in the tropical climate.

Fog on the Puncak Pass Fog on the Puncak Pass



My tour guides in Yogyakarta were very accommodating and showed me many interesting places. Of course, they also wanted a photo with a handshake and an exchange of writing tools, just like heads of state always do. Afterwards I was the “proud” owner of a chewed ballpoint pen.

Public transport in Yogya My Rickja Driver I've let go of my camera again...



A little away from Kuta

We know pictures of Bali. That's why they are not shown here.

Instead, I saw me with my indispensable travel luggage with two cameras (one for black and white, the other for color slides), a few lenses and enough film material.

I saw the boats early in the morning on Blue Lagoon Beach. The beach still exists today, but these boats no longer exist, because now they are all motor-driven. On the other hand, the electrical installations with the tangle of wires have hardly changed.

But perhaps you should go to Tukang Gigi, the dentist, again. Only he is in B.TINGGI. This is the abbreviation for Bukittinggi, which local rickshaw drivers usually call out as BUKI – BUKI – BUKITT. And that would be in the middle of Java.

Me with essential travel luggage Early morning at Blue Lagoon Beach Here he is, Tukang Gigi, the dentist Fishing boat at Blue Lagoon Beach


First workshops First workshops

Many more trips followed. I only want to mention a few here, those that are directly related to my photographic work.

Workshop 1978 with Jost J. Marchesi in Portugal

Portugal to the Algarve: photography course with Jost J. Marchesi. Unfortunately, I have not archived many photos, especially the Polaroid shots. Looking back, what I learned from Jost was like a photographic shot across the bow. The effects are still felt today.

Workshop 1978 with Jost J. Marchesi in Portugal, Algarve Workshop 1978 with Jost J. Marchesi in Portugal, Algarve Workshop 1978 with Jost J. Marchesi in Portugal, Algarve Workshop 1978 with Jost J. Marchesi in Portugal, Algarve


Workshop 1980 with Sepp von Mentlen in Santorini

Santorini was the ultimate photo Eldorado at the time. The subjects just tumbled into the camera. I had a lot of fun implementing the experiences I had previously gained at Jost J. Marchesi.

The workshop with Sepp von Mentlen developed into a long-lasting friendship. Together with other Bernese photographers, the Bernese photo team was formed.

Workshop 1980 with Sepp von Mentlen in Santorini Workshop 1980 with Sepp von Mentlen in Santorini Workshop 1980 with Sepp von Mentlen in Santorini Workshop 1980 with Sepp von Mentlen in Santorini
One look is enough and the instant photo session is born. Instant Photo Session: Phase 2 Instant Photo Session: Phase 3 Instant Photo Session: Phase 4 I needed some persuasion


Santorini Is art being created here? Santorini Santorini Santorini Santorini It was hot, had to take off my t-shirt to match the picture Santorini

Workshop 1981 with Christian Vogt in Lausanne

I wanted to give up my job as a software developer and work as a freelance photographer. That was my idea. Christian Vogt was the pioneering art photographer in Switzerland at the time, author of many art books.

In a discussion that was very decisive for me, Christian told me that even he only made a living 20 percent from his freelance photography. The rest is advertising. I stuck to my "art", the emerging computer industry. I filled my extended free time (thanks to the companies I was employed by) with my truly freelance photography.

Workshop 1981 with Christian Vogt, Instant Photo Session: A task for pictures with a cloth Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4 Workshop 1981 with Christian Vogt, Pola in the studio Workshop 1981 with Christian Vogt, Pola in the studio Workshop 1981 with Christian Vogt, Pola in the studio


A tenth of a second in my life A tenth of a second in my life

On September 26, 1981, the biggest change in my life took place. Patrick came into my life. We met in the Bern gay club Ursus. A tenth of a second during the first contact was enough. That made everything clear. It was that simple...!

The tenth of a second turned into 31 years. Unfortunately, there were to be at least 31 more years. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. After a short illness, Patrick's life ended on December 23, 2012.

Patrick was, is and will remain my elixir of life.
I still love him. With all my heart!

Looking through my archives confirmed this for me. There are many photos that bring back many memories. I show some here, others remain in the archive. And that's a good thing.

Patrick and I remain very closely connected in spirit.


To Chapter 3: The Way to the Studio To Chapter 1: Foreword, Introduction
Bild: Author Peter Andres
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