Jochen Kohl is a Dusseldorf-based photographer who learned product and advertising/commercial photography from scratch. Besides photography, which has been part of his life for over 25 years, Jochen is a sports enthusiast who enjoys long-distance running and martial arts.
Whenever he is not busy with a shooting or another photographic job, he loves to explore the world. Jochen is fond of traveling, which is one of many reasons for his workshops in various European cities. He knows Lisbon, Amsterdam, Paris and Venice like the back of his hand, and from 2019, he is going to include the Philippines as a new workshop destination. His workshops usually cover architecture, landscape and people photography.
Jochen is a proven expert in color management and photographic workflow. For a photographer, it is especially important for commercial customers to have the color from capturing to print under control. He exclusively owns webinars for Nix software and DxO worldwide, and also collaborates with Illford to hold workshops on print and shoot. Jochen also played a significant role in the Datacolor ebook “Color Management Can Be Easy”.
How did you get your start in photography?
When I started back in the 1990s, I was lucky enough to work for well-known customers like BMW Motorcycles, Manufactum or Philipp Holzmann. From the very start, I had to play the sink or swim game of advertising and commercial photography and could test all different aspects of this type of photography – back then, I shot analogue in large format and 6×9. Nowadays, it’s the digital workflow that dominates my day-to-day routine.
What type of photography are you shooting and what motivated you to focus on that genre?
I cater for quite a wide spectrum these days – product photography, catalogue production for a tool manufacturer, image videos… I find my motivation over and over again in the challenge I face in a commercial production, making sure that the product is presented in perfect light conditions. What intrigues me the most is to be able to let my creativity reign free when shooting advertising campaigns. The atmosphere on location when working as a team is always special to me – agency employees, make-up artists, models and the photographer all do their very best to achieve a common goal. I also enjoy meeting new and interesting people through my work.
What has been your biggest achievement or obstacle along the way?
Working creatively under pressure and dealing with the stress, while maintaining your level of creativity without losing interest in the job, is a challenge in itself. At the same time, I find that I strive after these moments and I surpass myself. When your images end up elsewhere and are used beyond their original purpose, such as on an international book cover or in a sport campaign, I see that as a massive achievement. Nevertheless, I believe one should constantly give it all. That way, tomorrow’s image is going to be one’s biggest achievement.
Who and/or what inspires you most?
I try to find my inspiration in whatever I visualize in front of my inner eye. This is probably something I am still used to from the good old analogue times. Back then, I simply didn’t have the opportunity to browse the internet for moods to inspire me and I still rarely make use of this source of inspiration.
What is your approach? Is there anything in particular you try to achieve during a shoot (for example triggering certain feelings, etc.) or are there any specific techniques you use?
Every shooting comes with a different objective, which makes it hard to give a straight answer to your question. In my eyes, photography should first and foremost live through emotion and effect. That doesn’t mean that the technical aspects play a minor role. A solid technical knowledge is the most important tool you need to master, in order to be able to put your creative image concepts into practice in exactly the way you envisioned them.
Why is accurate color important within your workflow?
A customer who put a lot of thought and financial investment into a product concept and the choice of color or into the colors of their company logo or possibly into fashion design wants a professional photographer to be able to reflect colors correctly – rightfully so! If the photographer is incapable of meeting these expectations, he simply doesn’t make use of the technical opportunities one has on hand nowadays.
But also with free works I want my images that I have been editing for quite some time in order to create a certain color look to look exactly the way I intended them to – on my screen and other media as well, be it digital or print.
Any tips or advice for photographers just beginning their career?
Stay true to yourself! Once your hobby turns into profession, the fine line between fun and work seems to vanish. When you can’t stand up for the work you deliver, you won’t be successful in the long run and, to make it even worse, you will have lose the passion for a hobby you once used to love.