Jessica Braun | Journalist
Christoph Koch | Journalist
I arrived at Berlin airport from New York City and Jessica was standing with her iphone up and Pixel Trade written across the screen. She forgot the printout at home. Down the track I found myself wondering what curious minds would have thought of the sign. I often check names at a glance when I walk out of the arrival zone and imagine who those people are and why someone is waiting for them.
Jessica and her husband Christoph were my first trade on the 3rd continent of the project and I couldn’t have had a better introduction into Berlin. Two journalists, who would know the city, the people and the culture better than these two? The Pixel Trade was a fun session of portraits followed by shooting parts of Berlin through my eyes.
Interview with Jessica & Christoph
Describe your most memorable adventure as a child
C: My best friend in elementary school was the son of the town hall janitor. Underneath the town hall there were lots of cellars and catacombs, which were of course strictly off limits. I even remember something that in my mind looks like a cave and somebody telling us that there were tunnels from World War II down there going all across town. But maybe that's just time warping my imagination. We explored some areas, but didn't go very far. I was an easily-scared kid.
J: Picking a puppy from a pack. Choosing someone you want to live with for the first time is a big decision – especially while surrounded by squealing potbellied cuteness and at an age when most decisions are usually made for you.
What would you say was the biggest risk you’ve taken in your life?
C: Quitting a well-paid job as a magazine editor to work freelance as a writer. Never regretted it for a day, though.
J: When I was a teenager, I was a bit naive about letting friends store certain substances in my car while partying at techno rave parties. Maybe not the biggest risk, but certainly one of the not-so-necessary ones.
What is the most important thing that draws you to journalism?
C: It is full of variety. One day I write about advertising companies tracking our online behavior, the next day about a guy who holds hundreds of world records - one for the most amount of jell-o eaten with chopsticks in one minute. Being a journalist gives me the license to ask questions, to be curious ... and to call reading magazines and newspapers and clicking around on the web "work".
J: Imagine you had a wild card to call whoever you admire and ask this person to meet you for a coffee and share the best stories from their life with you. See?
Who or what is your favourite subject to write about and why?
C: A) Technology and how it changes our life. B) People who do something interesting. Which turns out to include almost everybody. C) Stories that take me places.
J: Meike Winnemuth, a well-respected german journalist, once rebuked one of my story pitches: „Another man with a long white beard, Miss Braun?“ I guess I’m drawn to people that have lived an independent and unique live and therefore something to talk about. Or I do have a Santa Claus complex.
What do you think is different about writing now, compared to ten years ago?
C: "Being a writer is 3 percent talent and 97 percent not getting distracted by the internet" - it is almost ten years since my friend and colleague Cyrus Farivar wrote that sentence and I guess it is more true than ever.
J: Back than it wasn’t general acceptance that the work of writers or photographers should be available for free. And the two of us would probably never have met.
What is something you haven’t told someone in a long time?
C: About the death of my uncle, and my two cousins when I was really young. Somehow it always brings a fun conversation to a halt and kills the mood. See, now this questionnaire turned all sad and dark.
J: I haven’t told my grandfather today that I love him. He forgets it immediately because of his Alzheimer’s so not telling him today is practically the same like not saying it in years.
When was the last time you were most happy?
C: Dancing with my wife. Fortunately that happens every other morning when there is something decent on the radio. Sometimes we even dare to dance to crappy music. Best way to start the day.
J: Sitting at the prow of a longtail boat heading around the island of Koh Phangan with my husband. Being on a boat always gives me a wild feeling of freedom. And of being lucky – the two of us met while sailing the Inner Hebrides.
If you could teach one lesson to any child, what would it be?
C: Empathy. Whatever you do or say or think - try to put yourself in the position of the other person first.
J: That all beings have the right to live happy and free.
Describe your most memorable adventure as an adult
C: Maybe this freelance thing. Maybe holding night watch by myself in a camp in South Africe with the lions roaring in the distance. Maybe running a Tough Mudder, a 12 mile run through mud and fierce obstacles. I recently met a guy who does at least one thing a month that leads him outside his comfort zone. Seems like a good concept. More adventures.
J: Getting married in Las Vegas. Two days before I was packing my suitcase without knowing where we were going. One day before I wouldn’t have imagined that my husband would propose. The only thing I had to do was to say yes. Doesn’t sound adventurous. But it changed my whole life and made me happy and proud.
If you had to recommend a favourite music album, what would it be?
C: Recently: "Boxer" by The National. Otherwise everything by the Smiths.
J: „Boxer“ from The National. It’s „our“ album. A million couples might call it the same, though.