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field hockey coach, hugely pressed for time, has the inclination to buy a couple of pounds of asparagus for his family at a roadside stand on the way to catch the sunset on the St. Peter-Ording beach, he does so. And you certainly won’t stop him. Then, later on the North Sea beach, there’s this other moment, an indication that Ripke, who once owned a houseboat, isn’t just a daredevil. Before he gets into the C 63 S, he knocks off his shoes. Doesn’t want to bring in sand or leave any dirt in the car. He much prefers to drive, hits the gas, initiates a drift. But the wet sand challenges him and the car. Ripke brakes, first scans the route very slowly to ensure that a hole isn’t waiting for him and the rims beneath the water’s surface. All clear. He drives the lap at speed; propels the coupé using the front wheels. That’s surprising. That’s Ripke. Drops a few lines on the bandstand Takes a few spins in the sand C “Caro, look over here. Down. Left. Laugh. Less. Look arrogant, arrogant! Enough. Chin down. Here. That’s good. Go! Warm up in the car. Change your clothes.” His instructions are the same as commands: precise, purposeful, not brooking contradiction. The architecture student and amateur model plays with her blue eyes and the Leica, Ripke shoots, click – click – click – no end in sight. “If you can’t take it well, take it often,” says the man behind the viewfinder and laughs about his working credo. A little tongue in cheek, and yet not, because “I don’t find my pictures to be that amazing.” I beg your pardon? Say that again! It’s simple, says Ripke, there are much better photographers in the world. “Often I’m just lucky enough to know the right people.” The close friendship with the rapper and ex-model Marteria, the good relationship with Campino and the rest of the still-punk band Die Toten Hosen, who he was allowed to accompany on their European tour. And of course his connection to the German national team, which he photographed in Rio in 2014 after the final goal – which was not quite as simple as it sounds. First Paul had to beg German Soccer Association (DFB) team manager Oliver Bierhoff. Not a problem by e-mail: “This is a last-ditch attempt by Paul (...). Please please please let me come along and properly capture all the extraordinary things you experience there. (...) Is it because of my looks? I’ll happily shave and wear a hairstyle of your choice.” There could be only one answer to that, unhesitatingly: “Dear Paul, take it easy, leave your hair as it is and come along. We’ll shoot the goals. You shoot the photos.” The rest is history, recorded in Paul’s coffee-table book “One Night in Rio”. Less than 50 hours in Brazil, 12,000 photos, 400 made it into the book. Bold colors, up-close portraits, tears of happiness. As never seen before. “I call it maximizing the concentration of events: as much as possible, as briefly as possible. When I’ve finished a job, I edit my pictures exactly once – then I’m on my way to the next job,” says Ripke, whose favorite currency is trust. “I took many photos of the Chancellor that night, but I promised never to publish them anywhere.” Said and done. After that night in Rio there was already enough trouble. Some colleagues from the photography scene were angry with him because he got in their way and because he shot the photos that they themselves never could. Except that they would have tried their own luck and violated all the rules to climb over the barrier. But they didn’t. So, guilty conscience? “I would do it again,” says Ripke. “Anyone would do that for the images of his life.” Trust is his currency He dared to make the jump and see Click click click, hooray for you: Götze, that’s what world champs do. H He’s done taking the pictures of Caro, back into the warmth, orders a curried sausage, switches on the laptop, Champions League is on, Bayern Munich is battling Atlético Madrid in the semi-final. Paul can almost endure it no longer, rolls his wedding ring from left to right over the wooden table in the restaurant, screams at the players, claps his hands above his head, stands up, sits down again, and places bets with all those at the table and at every other table on the corner in which the next penalty kick will be fired. He wins. A quick glance at Facebook and Instagram. What’s up? “Yes, I’m addicted to social media. So what? Without these channels my career would have been impossible. Eats up a lot of time but it’s also the most transparent medium there is.” How transparent is someone like Paul Ripke? “I never post pictures of my wife and my two daughters” – that’s the level of privacy he allows himself to have. It’s 2:1, Bayern. Time to go home. It’s late. We arrive at his historic Hamburg apartment. Be quiet. Past the Nike shoe collections with more than a hundred pairs, a glass of water from his childhood love, the stunningly beautiful Theresa, who he’s since married. Step carefully, the wooden floor creaks, the girls are asleep by now. How was his day? “Cool. I’ve got asparagus with me!” 43


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