Anders Petersen, at the age of 18, decided to pick up his camera and travel from his home in Sweden to Hamburg’s red light district the Reeperbahn a the tail-end of the 1960s.
Far from his idyllic countryside upbringing, the Reeperbahn offered the chaotic, debauched and glorious carnage Petersen was searching for. Littered with prostitutes, drag queens, drug dealers, pimps and crime the budding photographer joyously sampled all on offer before stumbling into a local bar known as the Café Lehmitz.
Though his brief stay in Hamburg had proved addictive. Having returned home to Sweden shortly after his venture, Petersen felt a void that could not be filled by his interest in painting. Instead, he picked up his belongings in 1967 and head back to Germany in a bid to find his friends in Café Lehmitz. Succumbing to the pull of St Pauli, Peterson would be disappointed upon his return: “I went back there to find my friends and take pictures of their lives,” he says. “But people told me they were almost all dead.”
“Lehmitz was the first thing I did seriously. It filled me up,” he added. “I really identified with these people and their situation, this group who were outside society. I respected them. I felt very strongly about them.”
The great depth of the Lehmitz work compiled by Petersen has been put together into a series of gritty and honest books. Here’s a sample of our favourites: