Documenting society with Berlin Photographer Duran Levinson

Duran Levinson is is a 29 year old Berlin-based photographer and cinematographer from Cape Town. He’s worked for clients like Reebok, Puma and VICE, and been featured in exhibitions in Germany, China, and the United States.

His unique style of street portraits has captivated an audience of 20k on Instagram (@duranite) and it’s easy to see why. Read on to find out what makes Duran tick.

Why photography?

Photography is a passion and the art form I choose to express myself creatively. I love the whole process of film photography from start to the finish.

What role does the photographer have in society?

I think being able to document the world we live in is super important. Everyone has a phone and the power to capture whatever they want, it makes photography more appreciated as an actual art form, but also enables anyone to pursue it as a hobby or career if the interest strikes.

What themes do you pursue?

I pursue finding interesting people on the street to shoot, fashion, portraits and capturing whatever is not the norm of society in my photos.


What other photographers / filmmakers have been inspirational to your work?

My favourite photographer is Roger Ballen, whose work transcends the art form for me. I look up mainly to cinematographers and filmmakers who are using the moving image to tell the story. Filmmaking is my first real passion, with photography coming second. The work of Roger Deakins and other top notch cinematographers inspire me daily.

What do you think makes a memorable photograph?

I think it is an image that the viewer can connect to and form their own story about. A memorable photograph for me is something that makes you stop, take in the image and use your mind to formulate the rest. A strong photo doesn’t need to be technically perfect or anything like that, it just needs to have some substance.

What do you want viewers to take away from your work?

I want people to be able to see something about the world we live in today. I never have a direct message with my photography work, but indirectly I hope to portray some sort of emotion, either negative / positive or neutral out of the viewer.

What motivates you to continue taking pictures?

The passion inside myself to get better and continue telling stories. Photography is a passion that I wish to pursue and see where it can take me within my lifetime.

What are some of your favourite books on photography?

At the moment I’m not really using photo books as reference or looking at too many other peoples works, as I don’t want to copy or take other ideas into my new works.

When you’re shooting how much is planned and how much is instinctual?

Most of my work is actually very spontaneous. With more commercial or paid jobs I like to make sure everything is planned to a certain extent but with my street work and personal projects I like to leave a lot of it up to chance and see what the moment brings. I feel like I’ve used this method to develop a style within my work and I hope to pursue this and continue to grow in this regard.

How has social media played a role in your photography?

Social media is a nightmare and and a blessing to me. I really hate to rely on just Instagram to showcase my work but I know that I’ve been lucky enough to know I’ve developed a decent following of people who are generally interested in my work. I would say that Instagram and social media has had a very positive effect for me, being able to find people to collaborate with, brands to work with and meeting amazing people from around the world.

What advice would you give yourself if you started in photography all over again? 

I would say to just jump head first into any project possible. If something scares you or excites you, you have to do it. I’ve only been taking film and photography seriously for about 4 years now and it’s been a great journey, and a massive learning curve. I feel like I’ve only just begun my career and wish I could have started with this a bit earlier in my life 🙂

See more of Duran’s work at and @duranite.

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