Series Interview: Steffen Jahn “You’d Better be a Baker”

Steffen Jahn

Steffen Jahn

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How many years have you been in the business?

More than 20 happy years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

School taught – but forged by years of assistance to great colleagues.

When did you take your first photograph?

In the age of 8 my grandfather gave me his old camera and since I never stopped taking images.

What led you to photography?

In school we traveled with my Russian class to Moscow and Leningrad, I got a proper camera for this journey and shot my first real reportage.

What professional goals do you still have for yourself?

Taking an image that changes the world to its better. Big words – but its maybe worth the try 😉

What is your greatest professional achievement?

Doing what I like most – traveling – meeting great people and places.

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Who is/was your greatest mentor?

Reinhardt Wolf, one of Germany’s great photographers.  A  gentlemen, a connoisseur and a wise advisor.

What part of your work do you find most demanding?

Bad coffee in cheap hotels.

What is your creative philosophy?

Looking for the momentum – keep everything moving and changing.

Can you tell us about your state of mind when you are shooting/creating?

Focused – in every way.

Could you describe how you create your images? What do you look for?

Authenticity – I don´t want to create unnatural images. I want believable, real images. Cars that you can touch, leather that smells. Not CGI pixel-clouds.

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How do you work best – in teams, with assistants, on location, in studio, etc…?

Luckily I adapt to most sets – if its alone with my camera on a rock, or in a buzzing team at a studio set. I appreciate both ways – and anything in between as the change keeps you fresh and alive.

What is your work philosophy?

Have a plan – but do not stick to it at any cost. Pick up inspiration on the fly and create your vision

around it.

What is the ideal relationship for you with your clients?

Friendship and trust and respect.

What adjectives describe who you are now, at your core? What adjectives describe who you want to be in the future?

Now: Calm. Cooperative.  Quick.

Then: Calm. Cooperative.  Quick.

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What are you looking for thru the viewfinder? What thoughts go thru your mind?

Balance – balance colors and composition, light and mood is everything. Like a composing a good dish from various ingredients it needs certain amounts of everything at a certain time.

What are some obstacles you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?

I´m never looking back – it distracts me from the now !  (The Incredibles )

What is the toughest feedback you’ve ever received and how did you handle it?

“You´d better be a baker”. I tried it and I´m a pretty good cook now. And an even better photographer 😉

What are your long term goals?

Accepting jobs on locations between October and May only in Hawaii. Or at least in the southern hemisphere. I absolutely hate shooting in cold conditions.

What’s your advice to handling rejection?

Take your time – look at it from a proper distance and check the relevance of the rejection. Refuel. Restart.

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How would you describe your brand?

Creating enhanced reality with technology.

What’s your advice for photographers just starting out?

Be yourself. Listen to people – but not to anybody. Work hard. Look beyond the horizon.

How do you market yourself?

Getting the best out of every single job. Mouth-to-mouth reference is the best marketing on earth.

What inspires you?

Sunrises. Movements. Silence. Light. Stories. Characters. Good coffee. Comradeship.

What are some of your influences?

Craftsmen that know their trade. May it be typography, woodworking, design, winemakers or writers.

How do you approach your down time?

We are restoring an old house – so in the downtime I´m the handy man at the table saw, woodworking and rebuilding the house from 1923 to its origins.