Urban Tales

Florian Grill

In this portrait, Schindelhauer introduces his long-time friend and partner Florian Grill.

Florian Grill is a freelance photographer specializing in fashion, beauty and advertising. He and Stephan Zehren (Head of Design Schindelhauer) got to know each other while they were still studying, so it was clear who would take the first lifestyle shots for Schindelhauer Bikes. Florian also tinkers with vintage cars and advocates for better bike paths in Hamburg.

From Lake Constance to the North Sea

My name is Florian Grill and I've lived in Hamburg for 15 years. I'm originally from Lake Constance, but now I feel more like a North German. I'm a freelance photographer specializing in fashion, beauty and advertising. I have my own studio here in Hamburg with set construction, post production and a film team. What I miss most here in Hamburg is the mountains. I like beautiful curved streets, exciting views and not just flat and straight lines. One village after another. I miss the feeling of simply being able to ride without going through a town. The chance to really let go, be it by bike or motorcycle or in a classic car. I really miss that.

Always discovering new ways

The biggest challenge in my job is definitely staying creative and finding new perspectives. But also to have fun in the team, to inspire the team with my ideas and to work with the team on new creative paths. Not going the beaten path. But of course there are also beautiful things. For example traveling, meeting great new people who are creative and incredibly open-minded and who are super friendly, super nice and have great creative energy.

Schindelhauer is always breaking new ground. Be it at the very beginning with the timing belt. Hardly anyone knew him back then. Now it's being copied everywhere. Schindelhauer was a real pioneer in this regard. In addition, a good design and a sense of style. Not totally crazy, but always with a certain something. I've had my first Schindelhauer bike in ten years and it still works. The quality is very good. Of course, you can't translate that one-to-one as a photographer, but these are the attributes that hopefully also apply to me sometimes.

"I'm a fair-weather motorist, fair-weather motorcyclist, but not a fair-weather cyclist."

I can think very well on a bike. When I ride my bike to work in the morning or back in the evening, on the one hand you get a little exhausted. On the other hand, you're able also to rest. In the morning, you wake up because you're moving and you have new thoughts. In the evening, you come down a bit and can process the day a bit. And the nice thing is that I can drive my Schindelhauer in any season and in any weather. "I'm a fair-weather motorist, fair-weather motorcyclist, but not a fair-weather cyclist." Whether snow, ice, rain or wind: I actually always ride my bike. When it rains, you get a bit wet and in winter it's sometimes cold, but it just works and then the whole thing is also fun.

I have a bit of rain gear, but mostly I'm too lazy to take it with me. Most of the time, I just look at the rain radar to see when the next shower is coming or when the shower is over. Actually, you can now plan that quite well and then you stay at work for half an hour longer or do something else before you take off. Cycling helps me to balance things out incredibly well, which is why I don't take the train or car to work. And if you want to have a wine on the way home, you don't have to look for a parking space, you just stop at the bar, meet up with friends, have a drink and then ride home. The fastest way to get around the city is by bike, and it makes the most sense economically and ecologically. The bicycle is absolutely the future for a city like Hamburg, which has hardly any mountains and is always clogged with cars.

A life as a freelancer

I try to be in the studio at 9:30 in the morning. I usually leave around 9 or 10 a.m. and it takes about 20 minutes. First of all, I have a coffee. Then the first emails. When I have a shoot, it's a little earlier, either at the location or here in the studio. When shooting, it's usually the case that you first see that the customer is taken care of, that the assistants are there, that the light is set up and that the team is happy. At the end of the day, we want to deliver a great result. And then you go home by bike or to a wine bar or to eat with clients or alone to meet friends.

As a freelancer, you can structure your free time individually. And often I don't see work as work either. That's the advantage because we just have such a nice community here. It's not such a compulsion. Of course, you have to do certain things at certain times or be there at certain times and you can't just lie in bed. But I'm not the type to stay in bed anyway, I always need to do something. And the more going on here, the more comfortable I feel. And when I want to take a day off, I also take a day off and go to the sea with my friends, go fishing or do other things. Actually, I always have some kind of project: Whether I'm building a VW Bus or building a vintage car or building a motorcycle or building a new bicycle. Or I go out with the dog or we go camping or sailing. Somehow there's always something to do.

Bicycle vs. car

In the city, 80% of the time I ride my bike. I really try to do everything by bike. I really hate taking the car because I'm faster and more mobile with my bike and it's more fun. What about the car? I don't really need it. I have it partly for the job, when I have to transport things and equipment with it, or just for fun. I only really enjoy driving the car when cornering or on the racetrack. For me, cycling is a nice way of getting around. It means freedom for me and I can clear my head by doing it. But it's also relaxation and I can let the wind blow through my hair. In summer, we always go out to the lakes or along the Elbe river. But actually I'm almost only out and about in the city.

Enthusiasm for the extraordinary

I've always ridden a bicycle and I always want to ride a bicycle, and Schindelhauer simply has the most beautiful and quality bicycles on the market. Of course, I also like the design and the unique feature that it's not an off-the-shelf bike. Only I have exactly this custom model. It's the same with my motorcycle. I also rebuilt that. It's unique. My car is unique, as it currently is. These are attributes similar to those I find in photography. Every photo is unique and does not exist anywhere else in this form. It's also important to me that you don't chase any trend, but that every bike is unique. That's why I'm with Schindelhauer and I'm sticking to it. At first, I started with Viktor. Then the CCR came along, although I only rode fixed bikes a bit because I have my mind of work in the morning and now I enjoy having a brake. I'm now 41 years old and if you don't drive fixed every day, you don't feel really safe anymore. There are simply people who can do it much better and for whom it's safer than it is for me. And that's why I now actually ride the Siegfried or the newly built custom model 90% of the time.

Important moments

Four years ago, I had a photoshoot in Berlin and after that I drove through Berlin at night on a warm summer night with Stephan Zehren (Head of Design Schindelhauer). That was really crazy. He showed me such great spots. And we darted through the empty streets of Berlin having so much fun. We ate something here and there and drank and saw almost the entire city until dawn. It wasn't so nice that we had to go back to work the next day. (laughs)

Classic in the modern age

For me, Schindelhauer stands for quality, design, fast mobility, but also a classic feel. I think Siegfried, for example, is an old bicycle that has been translated into new. The bikes are simply classic, beautiful, stylish and timeless. But also with such good quality that you don't have to go to a mechanic or yourself with it every six months. And regardless of whether it's raining or snowing, these bikes just work. Of course, you have to change the brake pads or fix a flat tire in town, but otherwise the bike just runs and works.

"Keep moving"

I am committed to better bike paths here in Hamburg. I just shot a campaign for Hamburg entitled “Keep moving”. It's about building a better bike network and bike lanes. You have to design a way forward and that's only possible with better mobility in the city center. Not only for us, but our children also need to feel safe. The campaign is now running all around Hamburg and I hope that something will change as a result. A lot is changing in Hamburg and we are on the right track. I think we have to apply that to the wider masses again. There should be a separate bike lane and a car lane. We can't do without cars, but we can't do without bicycles either. There has to be a togetherness where both vehicles have equal rights. But there must also be wider bike paths for cargo bikes or it must be possible to ride next to each other with friends or children. It must be a given that you can get to the daycare center safely and quickly.

Products introduced