In 1996 I started an apprenticeship as a photographer in Heidelberg. After one year, I was so bored of photographing meaningless items just for the sake of learning basic photographic techniques, that quitt and decided to study Cultural Anthopology instead.
At the same time, in summer 1998, I met Gudrun-Holde Ortner, a portrait artist from Heidelberg, who was looking for an assistent. When we met, she told me, that she had allready decided for another applicant, but wanted to see some of my work. The only presentable photographs I could offer were the pictures of the elderly in the nursing home, where I was working after my apprenticeship to bridge time until my study began.
A day later she called me and told me, that I can start working with her.
Those 10 years of working with her had a strong impact on me as a person as well as a photographer. They have sharpened my senses for human beings and changed the way how I saw the world. What I learned was not just photographic techniqes, but seing itself. 
The soul of portrait photography is the curiosity in other human beings. Without curiosity in humans, portraits become empty and without soul.