Gili Shani has one of the jobs that every Berlin photographer dreams with: he is the only photographer allowed to shot at Berlin’s Kit Kat Club exclusive Saturday parties (famous for their strict bouncer and dress code at the door). We spoke with him about his photography process and how he became the only person able to shot the bizarre parties on Saturdays.
Original from Israel (Tel Aviv) Gili moved to Berlin 13 years ago, here he works as a freelance photographer but he is famous for his black and white series of photos of the people at the Kit Kat Club, his favorite place to shoot.
When I was 20 years, I came home back from a long trip to India, I was confused and not sure what I wanted to do with my life. One day my girlfriend mom asked me what was my passion, I said I love making pictures, so she suggested… go to study photography.
This is how all started, as student Shani was working at a popular bar in Tel Aviv where he was also documenting the people, the guests, and all around. After finishing school he went to work as an assistant for a Fashion Photographer, but with the time he lost interest, he found fashion photography fake and boring. He decided then to start his own magazine, shooting Tel Aviv night life, eventually his pictures were seen by Berlin’s Sage Club and they asked him to shot photos for a Party Flyer, after six months of writing e-mails with Sage they invited him to come to Germany where he felt in love with the capital city. After his trip he went back to Israel, sell everything, packed his stuff and 3 weeks after moved to Berlin.
Once in Berlin Gili started working for Sage documenting the party scene, during the day he was shooting all kind of fetish models, and with the time he end up working with magazines, celebrities, erotic brand and music bands.
Becoming Kit Kat Club photographer was not easy though, for many years he was a regular at the club and one of his wishes was to shoot inside, it took him 12 years. One day he was booked to shoot his first Gegen party at the club, and suddenly with out asking for it, his dream became true.
Since I moved to Berlin KitKat was my place, I was there every weekend, there was always magic happening there, it was something that I never had feel before in any club or parties I’ve go in the past, I still think there is no place like KitKat in any other place in the world
So at the end time paid off, and after much talking with KitKat owners, and organizing his own parties in the club (Hellektro Night Berlin) he was finally granted access to shot the famous Saturday parties at one of the iconic Berlin’s clubs. But once inside the photo process was not easy, Gili needs to ask before shooting every picture, and be very respectful with the people inside.
it’s very sensitive when you do photos at KitKat, you have to ask every person before taking the pic, respect the people in the background (I always delete/blur them ). Some say no, but many approach me and ask me to make the pic, if I see someone that is interested I just ask , it’s a sensitive situation and you must be aware to the people around you…. I also delete any tattoos or anything else that can recognize the people in the background, the privacy of the people it’s always important for me, I want the people to feel safe and happy and not think or be afraid if they not interested to be on the pic.
Armed with a Nikon D7100 camera and a bunch of busines cards with his instagram handle you can find Gili every Saturday at kitKat club, although he finds Berlin has changed a lot in the last 13 years, he feels like KitKat Club Saturday parties are one of the last places in the city where he can still feel the old Berlin magic in the air. His new dream is to make a book out of this series.