“You can’t beat this panorama,” says Jim Rakete, photographer to the stars and also a star himself, when I meet him in the bar on the 10th floor of Motel One Berlin-Upper West. The Berlin-born artist, who was band manager for Nina Hagen and Nena in the 70s and 80s and a pioneer of the Neue Deutsche Welle, achieved his own fame in the 90s with large-format black-and-white portraits.
For Motel One he has photographed a number of top German actors including Moritz Bleibtreu, Christiane Paul, Jürgen Vogel, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Katharina Thalbach and Birgit Minichmayr, which we are also featuring here. But Jim Rakete prefers to gaze out of the window than at his photos: “On a clear day you can see the whole cross section of the city.” Although he admits that he’s not your typical barfly. But he has published ten books and exhibited in museums and galleries so he’s used to being in the spotlight.
“I like coming here because it’s totally unpretentious,” he says, before taking a sip of his wheat beer. Nothing fancy, superfluous or over the top, just like his photos. But nevertheless “dedicated”. That’s another of Rakete’s favourite words, along with “unpretentious”. The way he uses language is just as considered as the way he takes photos. And after first picking up a camera at the young age of four, he has spent the last 62 years with a camera in his hands, which makes him 66. The age when life begins. A life that Rakete is enjoying every moment of. Right now, seated in a leather Baxter swivel chair, he is enjoying movement and relaxation in one. He looks around the room at the finest modern furniture, comfortable sofas, a striking bar of wood and brass, and turns to the window as the sun sinks slowly behind the Tiergarten park. “I was here last week, doing a shoot with a band on the large terrace,” he says after swivelling round again to take in a new perspective. At the age of 66, he’s seen a lot. But still not enough.