The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Stefan Kohli
Photographer: Stefan Kohli
Location: I'm currently in NYC for the summer, but travel to wherever I’m needed. A home base should be a place where you’re motivated to work your hardest -- but theoretically, that should be everywhere... right?
Style: Style as in content or aesthetic? For the past few years, a lot of people have told me to find a style and now people have told me, “I can tell when a photo is yours." But I’m still not sure what my style is… I don’t think I’m searching for any style other than creating a great image. I love shooting people, particularly musicians when they’re not on stage.
Equipment: “Whatever camera I have on me” maybe the most cliché but accurate answer. But film, Canon, Primes, and Lightroom.
How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience (and your first camera!).
In 9th grade, I found my parents’ Canon Powershot point & shoot and started taking pictures of everything in the backyard. Flowers, bricks, trees, whatever was there. I think taking a macro pic and making it black & white was the coolest thing out back then, so that’s what I did. Naturally, that got old quickly and throughout high school I shot a lot of events and sports for my school’s newspaper.
What are your thoughts on iPhone-ography?
It’s great. It allows, if not, forces you to be creative. But I’m basically out of space on my phone so I’m out of commission as far as taking photos on my iPhone goes.
Do you shoot things differently/look for different types of shots when you're shooting for Instagram as opposed to say a larger editorial? If so, can you give us an example?
Ultimately, the creative approach is the same in that everything I’m shooting is done through whatever creative lens is in my head, visualized with my eyes, and then actualized with the camera. Depending on who I’m working with, I’ll alter what I’m choosing to capture and what I want to convey with each image. (Generally) I wouldn’t want to capture Joey Bada$$ in the same way as Ariana Grande -- simultaneously, sometimes it can be really intriguing to photograph someone in a light that goes completely against every way you’ve previously visualized and perceived them. And I never shoot for Instagram.
Tell us the story behind one of the most memorable photos you’ve shot…
A month or two ago, I went out to Manchester, UK for the One Love Benefit Concert and shot this photo of Coldplay. I had flown 8 hours to be in Manchester for only 24 hours, but it was a truly remarkable day, with some of the world’s biggest artists sharing a stage with purpose. Coldplay was one of the last performers and this confetti with all of the color really signified that day, full of positive energy, love, and unity. The moment I took that shot I knew it was the one. Alternatively, one time I ran into Adam Sandler on the subway. Also quite a memorable photo.
“...sometimes it can be really intriguing to photograph someone in a light that goes completely against every way you’ve previously visualized and perceived them."
What is a constant source of inspiration for you as a photographer?
Music, traveling, reading, and of course, other photographers. Most importantly, constantly “competing” with myself to create better work and try new ideas and work harder.
Who has been a great influence or mentor to you and what did you learn from them that you still carry with you today?
A phenomenal video director, Philip Andelman, has been a constant influence and mentor for me, and is someone I look up to greatly. One idea that’s particularly stuck with me is a seemingly simple one -- to really think about “why” you’re capturing an image or creating a project. Although photography doesn’t necessarily require purpose, it generally involves intention, and it’s important to think about that to learn more about yourself and your work.
Three of your favorite Instagram accounts to follow and why.
1) @karoni - One of my favorite photographers and a close friend, Matt does amazing work and easily serves as a huge creative inspiration for me.
2) @oliviabee - Olivia has a really unique background and story, and her work is unparalleled. Really inspiring.
3) @jjjjound - Justin is an all-around creative guy. He posts some really phenomenal cartoons.
Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
Look. Follow your thoughts.
Tell us three photography tips.
1) Work harder than everyone else.
2) Just because you are staying up late doesn’t mean you’re working hard.
3) Don't give up your ideals for anyone else.
None of those are really photography tips… but they all directly apply, I promise!
If you could shoot anyone, who would it be, where, and why?
Bon Iver in Wisconsin, in the cabin where he wrote: "For Emma, Forever Ago." Or Frank Ocean at a Waffle House.
Finish the sentence...
If I weren’t afraid I would… stop second-guessing.
I wouldn't be where I am today if… it wasn’t meant to be.
I've been listening to… Spooky Black, Tyler, Phoenix, Snny, Lorde, Cousin Stizz, and SZA.
Kids these days… was a really, really good band. Listen to "TrapHouse Rock." Amazing.
I look and feel my best when… I drink more water.
When no one is looking I… don’t do much differently. Maybe watch more romcoms.
Traveling… is more worth spending your money on than anything else.
I respect... all of my really talented friends, and my mom.