Daniel Sigg street photography Minneapolis / St. Paul Schweiz Switzerland Fotografie swissstreetcollective

A Conversation With Daniel Sigg

Bastian Peter Interviews, The Collective 1 Comment

Daniel Sigg is a photographer based in Minneapolis/Saint Paul with Swiss origins. He is a founding member of the swissstreetcollective. He works and is interested in a wide field of genres including street photography. Today I wanted to ask him a few questions.

Sometimes we get a little too hung up on genres

Daniel, thank you for agreeing to this interview. What is your favorite genre of photography and can you even compare them?
First, thanks for the opportunity to speak about my photography.
With regards to favorite genres, I definitely love street photography and this is what I am focusing on more and more. I also love architectural photography, landscape photography and abstract/minimalist photography (and combinations of thereof).

Daniel Sigg street photography Minneapolis / St. Paul Schweiz Switzerland Fotografie swissstreetcollective
© Daniel Sigg

I think to being able to compare them, perhaps a good answer is that I do not necessarily think too much in categories. I just photograph what is in my environment and what I “see”. I spend about 10-20% of my time in Northern Minnesota, and hence I photograph that environment (which is non-urban). I spend the majority of my time in an urban environment (Minneapolis/Saint Paul). I did quite a few road trips this year (AZ, MT, UT, CO, SD), and documented those road trips as well photographically. Much of this was landscape. I think Saul Leiter did most of his work within a few blocks of his home in NYC (and his friends), and probably hasn’t thought about whether he is doing “street photography”. Sometimes we get a little too hung up on genres, but I also understand that we need genres to talk about photography and perhaps to define a niche we want to focus on.

Daniel Sigg street photography Minneapolis / St. Paul Schweiz Switzerland Fotografie swissstreetcollective
© Daniel Sigg

Right. I totally agree about the genres and their definitions. And I would also add, it is maybe of value to talk about genres from time to time, to make the access of newly interested people easier. You are originally from Basel, Switzerland and several of street photographs were captured in Basel. Are there obvious differences shooting on the streets in the States compared to Switzerland?
That is a great question. I can probably only intelligently respond to this with regards to a comparison between Basel and Minneapolis/Saint Paul as those are the cities I have been focusing on for my street work. While I was fortunate to have visited many other cities across the US and in the world, those are the ones I have probably most experience with.

There is probably more anonymity in the bigger cities whereas Basel still feels more intimate.

Daniel Sigg street photography Minneapolis / St. Paul Schweiz Switzerland Fotografie swissstreetcollective
© Daniel Sigg

I find Basel to have a more lively, vibrant and also intimate city center compared to Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Things in Minneapolis / Saint Paul are more spread out. Also, since the pandemic started, both of our cities (aka Twin Cities) seem more empty. So, for some reason, I tend to photograph more people in Basel, and more architecture in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. There is probably more anonymity in the bigger cities whereas Basel still feels more intimate. Other obvious differences are that Basel is substantially older which is visible in its architecture, culture and overall history. But the architecture in the Twin Cities, especially in Minneapolis, is also quite fascinating and features a nice skyline with many skyscrapers, quite a bit of glass and steel architecture, which has interested me photographically. But Basel has also some very nice and fascinating architecture.

Daniel Sigg street photography Minneapolis / St. Paul Schweiz Switzerland Fotografie swissstreetcollective
© Daniel Sigg

I definitely would agree on the less anonymous feel of Basel – even when I don’t visit other cities that often. You prefer one particular place for street photography?
I don’t think I prefer one place over the other. But I think I am still more at home in Basel and love the multi-cultural and multi-lingual aspect of the city, but also its long and rich history. I hope to be able to travel back to Basel soon, but the pandemic has made this quite challenging.

Daniel Sigg street photography Minneapolis / St. Paul Schweiz Switzerland Fotografie swissstreetcollective
© Daniel Sigg


Do you remember the first time you thought about street photography? And what did make you go out and shoot on the streets?
I really started out my journey with landscape photography and have been photographing landscapes for a long time. However, as much as I enjoy nature and its beauty, I am a city person. For my personal work, I love to photograph outside, so in a way, it doesn’t make a difference to me whether I photograph out in nature or out in the streets.
I think the genre of street photography is interesting in a sense that it might just be a concept. In other words, I think of my architectural work as a form of street photography although it may not have people in it (or streets for that matter!).
I don’t know distinctly remember the first time where I consciously though of street photography, although I was of course familiar with many famous street photographers’ work.

Daniel Sigg street photography Minneapolis / St. Paul Schweiz Switzerland Fotografie swissstreetcollective
© Daniel Sigg

I think I became more conscious of street photography through my work with 35mm film.

I think what made me go out and photograph in the streets was just the curiosity to capture things that caught my eyes. I think I became more conscious of street photography through my work with 35mm film. And as you know street photography in the early days was of course photographed entirely on film, with a majority in black and white. Not that the medium matters, but it was more that getting connected to the film community somehow opened my eyes more to street photography.

You host a podcast and a blog, both on your website. What was the initial reason for starting the podcast?
Yes, I started my blog a few years ago, and just launched my podcast called Create. Photography. on October 1 (2020). The podcast is available on all major platforms (Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts etc.), but it’s nice to have the website as well to share show notes, images, and other resources including links of photographers we discuss for example. Listeners can also comment and get in touch with me via website, and my goal is to develop a community around the podcast (and blog). As a side-note and this probably relates more to your comment about the blog: I love having my own website. The website gives me complete and full control over my own content and highly recommend that to anybody pursuing photography seriously.

Daniel Sigg street photography Minneapolis / St. Paul Schweiz Switzerland Fotografie swissstreetcollective
© Daniel Sigg

I want to share my passion for photography and inspire a broader community of photographers. I am particularly interested in the creative process.


After this shameless self-promotion, I should respond to your question! The why for the podcast has two components: First, I wanted a podcast that is entirely focused on the creative side of photography. So I want photographers to worry about making images, and not worry about gear. Gear and technique are important, but these are just a tools, like a paint brush is a tool for an artist. Hence the name of the podcast: Create. Photography. Second, I want to share my passion for photography and inspire a broader community of photographers. I am particularly interested in the creative process. By using a mixed format of interviews, and solo shows I hope to get at the creative process from different angles.

When it comes to Art we are all influenced by things in our life. I personally believe a lot of that has its origin in childhood. And I believe we don’t even know all of the things that influenced us. Also we probably couldn’t describe it, because some of those “ideas” are based on emotions or feelings we had in certain situations. But because its always interesting to hear about it. So I wanted to ask you:Who or what are your influences in photography and/or in general?
That’s another great question. And I completely agree with you. I think we are naturally influenced by many things in our life. By the things that surround us, by our nature, and certainly also by our upbringing (i.e. nature and nurture). I view my influences in photography quite broadly, but would start with my parents. Both my parents are very interested in the arts. My dad was a documentary photographer and journalist, and is also an artist (a sculptor). My mom taught me a lot about traditional painters and modern art. Thanks to my mom, I can easily recognize the works by Miro, Calder, Mondrian, Rothko etc. Not that this is hard to do, but it was engrained to me at a very young age. Also, growing up in Basel, we have a rich art history. So I was visiting the art museums in Basel often (and still do).
In addition, my family is musical, my grand mother was a piano teacher, and we always had music recitals during our family gatherings (by a family member, including myself). I am a musician, and also view that music is a big influence on me and my photography in general. For example, very recently, I just did a cover art for a single we are working on.
I have also a strong and keen interest in design (graphic, architectural, furniture). Another one of my influences. In my twenties, I was really into the Bauhaus architectural design, and I also think that that’s when my love for minimalism started (although I don’t want to equate Bauhaus with minimalism!). I love furniture by the likes of Le Corbusier, and architecture by the likes of Herzog-De Meuron.
So my influences are mostly non-photographic.

I think its mission really aligns with my goals for my podcast. To inspire other photographers by focusing on the creative process and the art of (street) photography.

Daniel Sigg street photography Minneapolis / St. Paul Schweiz Switzerland Fotografie swissstreetcollective
© Daniel Sigg

I know you are a fan of books about photographers and their work. What is your current favorite?
There are several! 🙂 Photography books are a wonderful investment and very inspiring.
My current favorites are probably Ernst Haas and Saul Leiter.
I recently released a podcast episode about Saul Leiter (the show notes contain some book recommendations) and have recorded one about Ernst Haas. I have Ernst Haas book called New York 1952-1962. I also love the work of Jay Maisel and highly recommend it (Light, Color and Gesture, and also It’s not about the F-stop).
I am also a big fan of Michael Kenna’s work. This is not street related, but very strong and beautiful in my opinion.
Of course, the problem is that I probably only know <0.01% of all photographers works as there are so many! And so many talented ones.

Daniel Sigg street photography Minneapolis / St. Paul Schweiz Switzerland Fotografie swissstreetcollective
© Daniel Sigg

What was the main reason of yours to be a part of swissstreetcollective?

I think its mission really aligns with my goals for my podcast. To inspire other photographers by focusing on the creative process and the art of (street) photography.

Daniel, thank you again for the conversation.
Thanks, Bastian, for the great questions and the opportunity.

More on Daniel Sigg here:
His personal photography website

Create. Photography. Podcast

Daniel Sigg on Instagram

Interview written & conducted by Bastian Peter

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