Sven Kirsten was born in 1955 in the port town of Hamburg, Germany. He was
supposedly conceived on a freighter of his grandfather's Hamburg-Chicago line
between America and Germany (those were long trips). The sailor's bars of the
Reeperbahn red light district and the curiosities of the Hamburg Anthropology
Museum formed the fertile soil to inspire Sven to follow the call to other
distant shores in 1980.
After a brief stint at the San Francisco Art Institute, he continued his
education as cinematographer at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.
Here he fell in love with the aesthetic extremes of L.A. In parallel to
lighting and shooting music videos and features with Tom Waits, Sergio Mendes
or Robert De Niro, he began to pursue his hobby of urban archeology.
Over the last ten years he has photographed and collected the remnants of the
vanishing Tiki cult in America. He hopes that his Book of Tiki adequately
represents the visual seductiveness of this unique, never-before-recognized
facet of American pop culture.
When not shooting cable TV movies in Europe, Sven lives with his 9 year old
son, Diego, in his hilltop home overlooking the Silverlake reservoir in the
center of Los Angeles.