Rafael Heygster

6x6 Europe Talent: Rafael Heygster, Germany

Rafael reaches out very close to the people he photographs. That is why his pictures are often very touching. He is definitely a talent to watch.” - Stephanie Harke, photo editor, Stern Magazine, Germany.

Rafael Heygster is a freelance photographer based in Hannover and Bremen, Germany. His work focu­ses on the relationship between individuals and their social, cultural and ecological environment. From 2010 to 2015 he stu­died cultural anthropology and political sciences at the Uni­ver­sity of Hamburg, Germany. Since 2015 he studies photojournalism and documentary photography at the Uni­ver­sity of App­lied Sci­en­ces and Arts Hannover, Germany. 

I Died 22 Times

War does not only manifest itself as a military conflict on battlefields with clear physical fronts, but it also appears more abstractly in our society in various places. I Died 22 Times shows and questions the way our culture deals with warfare outside real battlefields. The series combines images of weapons fairs–war as a business–with motives of Airsoft, a leisure activity–war as a game. Both scenarios have one thing in common: war is staged as something entertaining and consumable. 

Some Airsoft "playing fields" include their own fleet of vehicles with civilian and military vehicles. Brozek, Poland, 13 May 2018.

Employees of an armaments company wait for customers at their booth at IDEX in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on 18 February, 2019.

Two spectators watch a live demonstration on the "Family Day" at an armament fair in Brno, Czech Republic, on 30 May, 2019. The staged firefight with blank cartridges and smoke grenades also involves the actors simulating being "shot." After the performance, all actors stand up and leave the arena alive.

A military band leaves the stage after its appearance during the opening ceremony of the IDEX in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on 12 February, 2019. A security guard watches the spectators.

Survivors and Witnesses of Long-Term Psychiatry in Germany

In Germany until only 30 years ago, people with disabilities were admitted into long-term psychiatric hospitals and excluded from social life. One of these hospitals is the former monastery Blankenburg in Germany, a branch of Psychiatry Bremen East. Far away from the city of Bremen, the patients had to live in inhumane conditions, like being strapped to beds and exposed to other physical and psychological violence.

Today the former patients of Blankenburg live in supervised shared apartments and dormitories in and around Bremen. Most of them are retired. Even though they no longer live together, they remain united by their shared history. 

Thomas Mische sits on his bed after taking a nap. Bremen, Germany, 21 September, 2018.

Horst Ziehbarth looks to the garden. The most important thing he talks about is that nobody takes care of the garden he sees from his window. Bremen, Germany, 2 October, 2018.

Portrait of Gerda Klima hiding her face while sitting in her room in Bremen, 24 September, 2019.

Thomas Mische after he drank coffee. Bremen, Germany, 16 April, 2019.

Discover work by the 6x6 Europe talents, and find out about 6x6’s nomination and selection process.