Joachim Giesel was born in 1940 in Breslau (today Wrocław, Poland) . After his family fled Silesia, Giesel trained as a professional photographer in Hanover from 1958-1961 and thereafter worked as a photojournalist at the Hannoversche Presse until 1966. Giesel passed his master’s examination in 1966 and set up his own photo studio. Together with his professional colleagues, including Heinrich Riebesehl, Umbo (Otto Umbehr) and Kurt Julius, Giesel organized the exhibition 10 Photographen aus Hannover (10 Photographers in Hanover) at the Galerie Kubus in 1969 and Drei Photografen und ein Mädchen (Three Photographers and a Girl) in 1970. In 1972, together with Riebesehl, Karin Blüher and Peter Gauditz, among others, he founded spectrum Photogalerie, one of the first photo galleries in Europe, that opened a total of 88 exhibitions. In 1979, spectrum Photogalerie was integrated into the Sprengel Museum and formed the museum’s basis of the Photographic Collection. From 1979 to 1999, Giesel was a photographer for the Niedersächsische Staatsheater (Lower Saxony State Theater). In 1980, he graduated from the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts as a designer for photography (Diploma). He also taught at the Universities of Applied Sciences in Bielefeld (1979/80), Dortmund, Wuppertal and the Bundesfachschule für Photographie in Hamburg (1979). Until 2006 he trained 15 photographers, among them Thomas Weski.
Giesel’s best-known series and book publications include Grenzland-Niemandsland (Borderland-No man’s land; 1965-1989), Tänzer-Portraits (Dancers’ Portraits; 1989), Photo Portraits aus Hannover (Photoportraits from Hanover; 1990), Der Mensch in der Gruppe (Man in the Group; 1970-1979), Verrückt nach Ilten (Crazy about Ilten; 2003), 100 Hannoversche Köpfe (100 Hanoverian Heads; 2006) and Hauptsache Arbeit (Main thing: work; 2010).
With his series from the props stock of the Hanover Opera, Giesel won first prize at the 1983 triennial Le théâtre dans l’art photographie in Novi Sad. Giesel received the Niedersächsischer Handwerkspreis (Lower Saxony State Prize for Designing Crafts) in 1985 and was named European Portrait Photographer of the Year in 1992. In 2001, he was awarded the Victor – Grand Prix of Photography for lifetime achievement during the International Festival of Photography in Belgrade presented by the Association of Independent Professional Photographers (PPofE or EAP).
The photographer became a member of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Lichtbildner (now the Deutsche Fotografische Akademie) in 1971 and was appointed to the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie (DGPh) in 1973. He is also a member of the Bund Freischaffender Fotodesigner and was the first chairman of the Centralverband Deutscher Photographen (synonymous with the office of the Federal Guild Master) from 1981 to 1987.
The Photographic Collection of the Munich City Museum houses 18 photographs by Joachim Giesel, including works from Der Mensch in der Gruppe (Man in the Group), Fassaden (Facades), and Strom für unser Leben (Electricity for our lives). In the Sprengel Museum Hannover there are four works from the series “Tänzer-Portraits” (Dancer Portraits): Claudia Jung, Robert Underwood, Khalend Mansour, Mehmet Balkan.