Ralph Gräf: The Traveller

The project started in March 2010 when Ralph was on a tour with friends and they found an old brown suitcase in a bunch of bulk waste in the street. This old suitcase, now visible in (almost) all photos of the series project, and the end-of-time-feeling of the partially abandoned village where they found it fueled his imaginations, where the figure of a traveller in time emerged, who finds himself in various, sometimes odd situations. In order to serve as a connecting element in a series of pictures, the ”traveller“ required a high recognition value. Thus, he has created the archetypal and nostalgic figure of a man wearing a suit and a hat and who carries a suitcase and an umbrella. As the series concept requires the same protagonist in each photo Ralph decided in favor of the most convenient way, i.e. to play this role himself. Thus, all pictures were taken using an interval self-timer. He started the series with settings in the context of travel and traffic. Yet, soon he broadened the scope of the term ”travel“ to being on the way at unusual places or through passed times. The fact that his ”traveller“ usually finds himself somehow out of place in his surrounding creates some kind of suspense. Since he always retains his composure even in bizarre situations, the pictures sometimes acquire a funny aspect keeping the photos sticking in the viewer‘s mind. Although often appearing only as a small person ”The Traveller“ is always the eye-catcher and enhances the attention for the scenery he is acting in. The individual photos are in no consecutive sequence. Each one tells its own story and evokes different emotions.

Ralph Gräf was born in 1965 in a small town south of Munich, Germany. In autumn 2006, his career as a cell biologist brought him from Munich to Potsdam (close to Berlin) where he works as a professor for cell biology at the University of Potsdam. He was always interested in photography, but yet it was his move to Potsdam that triggered a more intensive involvement with this medium since here he found a great creative environment to spend a huge part of his spare time for his creative talents. Together with ten of his friends, he is organizing the „Photogallery Potsdam“, a successful gallery project to promote contemporary artistic photography. According to his philosophy pictures should stimulate emotions, since this is the prerequisite to keep them sticking in the viewer‘s mind. Even though these emotions do not necessarily need to be positive, they have to be there to avoid pettiness. He prefers available light and clearly composed pictures with a discreetly arranged motive. He likes working with a series concept in mind as this makes the photos more suitable for exhibitions and photo books. His photos were displayed in several exhibitions in Germany, Poland and Italy and have been successful in many national and international photo contests. However, the double win of the open travel category and the Germany National Award in the Sony World Photography Award 2017 was his so far biggest success. By Ralph Gräf.


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