Are you looking for a cool location for a photo shoot, a fashion show or an exhibition? Your search is over. David & Galstaun Studio is Berlin’s premier photography studio and exhibition showroom, owned by Matthias David and Simone Galstaun. Located in a stylish loft in the heart of Prenzlauerberg’s Kastanienallee, David & Galstaun Studio offers a sprawling space of over 220 square meters that can be rented for your productions.
Station to Station met up with Simone Galstaun to take a peek behind the scenes and find out what drove David and Galstaun to create this amazing studio space that most recently hosted the fashion showcase for the label Birke van Maartens and was the setting for an exciting event within the Berlinale 2014 last Saturday.
S2S: What was the initial idea behind David and Galstaun Studio?
Simone Galstaun: It was always our wish to have a studio and to operate it independently. Matthias David (my boyfriend) and I were already living together, but renting two different studios at the time. So one day we thought, why not search for a common space, a studio we both could use, since we already knew and appreciated each other’s work. We came across this studio very shortly after we had made our decision and it was like a dream come true. We had to write up a concept and a month later we were able to move into this space. It was really just meant to be. From “Hey let’s find a studio” to having one, a day later.
S2S: When did you open David and Galstaun Studio?
Simone Galstaun: We moved into the studio in April of last year and opened David and Galstaun Studio on July 12th 2013. We went through a longer period of construction until we reached a point where we were content with the space. However, we still want to change a lot until it entirely meets our expectations. To me it’s like a constant “Baustelle” (construction site) but a very nice one, I admit.
S2S: What is is like as a couple to live and work here together in the studio?
Simone Galstaun: So far it’s been a blast. We enjoy what we do and what we share, meeting new people, working on new projects. Of course there are also problems, but you just have to take a step back and admit to yourself that you can’t be good at everything- which you don’t need to be. We learned to put our egos aside, as we are no super heroes. We have acknowledged our weaknesses to each other and have become very good at combining our strengths. Of course we both have certain visions for David and Galstaun Studio, but have learned to not be selfish about them.
S2S: How does the studio inspire you?
Simone Galstaun: It is virtually impossible not to be creative here. There is always so much going on at the same time. Some days, I am working on something on my laptop, while a shoot is taking place right next to me. This space really gives me a lot. You can also experiment much more, as you have the studio space and don’t need to worry about arranging anything beforehand.
S2S: How would you describe the main concept that lies behind David and Galstaun Studio? Who do you want to attract and who do you prefer working with?
Simone Galstaun: We work with agencies and TV productions like 16bars, as they don’t have their own studios. We don’t want to attract or work with only one kind of group of people. A lot of it happens through the agencies. We’re open to most projects actually, also to students who can’t afford to pay the daily fee for the studio. In these cases we still offer them the space. Recently, we had a student from London here and he couldn’t afford the full fee, but offered us to improve our website. After the shooting was over he took my laptop and started working on our page. It’s about giving a little and getting something back in return, cooperating and reaching out.
S2S: Are you part of developing the concepts for exhibitions, shows or shootings?
Simone Galstaun: Yes, I really like to play a part in organizing the events, even if it’s beyond my normal field of expertise. I love to get to know new areas, learning by doing, experimenting a bit and driving things to success. It’s a lot of fun actually. What I really appreciate, is also getting a glimpse behind the scene and slowly seeing an entire picture come to life.
S2S: In Birke van Maartens‘ photo shoot, for the first time, you were in front of the camera instead of behind it. How was this experience for you?
Simone Galstaun: It was great actually and the funny thing that happened is, afterwards, I was offered three other jobs and I had people calling me. It was a nice opportunity to also work together with Birke’s brother Peter Schings, who is great with lighting and photographing people. Since I am a fashion photographer, I created the set as I would normally do and we had a very productive time together.
S2S: When did you start with photography?
Simone Galstaun: I have actually always been into photography. It’s always been a part of my life. But by studying the wrong thing I actually discovered photography as my true passion. I was studying communication and it really wasn’t my thing at all: “What is communication?” – I couldn’t really relate to it at all. I dropped out and thought why not study something you actually appreciate doing. So I went to art school and learned a lot. I gained an insight into art, crafting, and fashion.
I realized that photography is what I am really good at. After that I worked for Tommy Hilfiger for three months, but didn’t really like working there, as I wasn’t able to pick my own pictures or add the final touch to them. I was making a lot of money but couldn’t be creative at all. So I decided to leave. I moved to Copenhagen for a while and then came to Berlin. Here I am! It was one of the best decisions to come here, as you can really create something here. I have met so many nice people since I have moved here. I was finally willing to open myself again, to make friends, real friends and realized there was something about Berlin that keeps me here.
S2S: Why did you come to Berlin in the first place?
Simone Galstaun: I came to Berlin to work with Matthias actually. At that time, there wasn’t ‘the love thing’ going on, maybe there was something in the air, but it was about working together. And that’s how we found out that we really match and can create something together. In December 2012 we curated an exhibition and before went on a road trip together, where we fell in love with each other. On a road trip, I guess, it’s impossible not to fall in love!