Tom Waits drew the unforgettable cover image of Rain Dogs (1978) from this series. Petersen’s photographs have just that atmosphere – I will tell you all my secrets / but I will lie about my past.
The shots date back to the late 1960s. The young Petersen had just finished photography school in Stockholm (with Strömholm) and moved to Hamburg, where he had been a few years earlier to study German. Here he frequents the red light district and in particular a bar: Café Lehmitz. The patrons are mainly alcoholics and prostitutes, people on the margins of society-
“People at Café Lehmitz had a presence and sincerity that I lacked. There you were free to feel desperate, or to crave tenderness, to keep to yourself or to seek the company of others. It was a totally bare place, but full of warmth and tolerance.”
Café Lehmitz is a kind of family album. A work that will remain distinctive throughout Petersen’s long career and has been published by different publishers in various formats.