My name is Ernst Jäger, I was born in Koblenz in 1957. When I was 9 years old, my family moved to Düsseldorf. After finishing high school, I did a degree in criminology at the Ruhr Universität in Bochum. I worked for 4 years at a private investigator's office and I learned a lot about this profession. Then I decided I was ready to open my own office in 1982. In the beginning it was only me and a secretary in a 15 square meter office. In 1984 I got married. In 1987 our daughter was born, and two years later in 1989 we had our son. Over the years my firm grew and now I employ 7 investigators and a larger office at Grafenberg. We work with numerous law firms so the work is very diverse: business intelligence, bankruptcy, family matters etc. I meet many people every day: clients, police officers, lawyers, businessmen and so on.
The nature of the job requires a lot of creativity. Naturally, over the years with technology advancing, the nature of the work shifted to working with online databases and is much more computer oriented, but I am well-adjusted by now. Some of the work requires taking pictures, so photography is an inseparable part of this profession. In this field there was also a tremendous technological shift to digital formats which made things much easier for us - especially in the pace of work which is crucial in this profession. I find photography to be very enjoyable and I also take many pictures as a hobby. I collected many photos I took along the years and they have a certain atmosphere in them. Their focus is on the people and not on the background which changed over the years; also, they are mostly photographed with zoom lenses. For a while now, when I have some free time I try to take similar photos but with a small twist, I walk to the same places and I take similar photos with a wide-angle lens. That way I look at all the happenings around, on the streets, and I put the focus on the background. The results are very different from the photos taken in the past. I guess I started thinking about it when google live view became an issue, I started thinking about what would have happened if over the years I would have been caught on google. This led me to thinking differently about the photos I was taking in my profession.
I think what drew me into this lifestyle, now that I think of it at an older age, is my older half sister Gerta. Unfortunately I did not know her because she died as a toddler. It's something that my father never spoke about. He got married at a very young age to his first wife and had a daughter together that died when she was 3. As it was never spoken about, we in the family were sure that it was an accident. Only when I was 16 I discovered that she was murdered by her mother’s lover, and that was a big overwhelming discovery. In the past few years I started reading more about the children (mostly) murderer Peter Kürten. I looked through Landesarchiv NRW for the police investigation files and Stadtarchiv Düsseldorf where I could read the articles of the time in the local newspapers. I want to understand more about this horrific phenomena of serial (children) killers, only because I was puzzled to discover such an atrocity in my own family.
During the Covid-19 outbreak I had some free time and I started going back to the crime scenes, in order to rediscover them as they look today. I use my camera to collect evidence because I am interested professionally in the process of investigating over a hundred years ago and today. I try to understand the past and the process of investigation then but in a modern vision. Also the old black and white photographs give an emotional distance to the horrors of the past. By using a modern coloured digital camera those scenes become contemporary to remind that these events took place in this city.