Photographer André Josselin on Natural Light Portraiture

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All images by André Josselin. Used with permission.

Personal portraiture is something that is very intimate and involves the process of capturing who a person is and documenting natural beauty. That’s what photographer André Josselin tries to do. The 29-year-old Cologne-based photographer started out five years ago and has since grown quite the fanbase on social media.

It has gained him the recognition of Tatort (a popular German television series), ADOBE, NIKE, Carl Zeiss, UFA Production, Soccerbible, and C-Heads Magazine, among others.

We found his work on Behance not long ago, and got to talking to him about creating the perfect photo, natural light’s beauty, and not being the creepy photographer.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

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André: I started with photography five years ago. I think I’ve told this story a thousand times before. 🙂 My father bought himself a new DSLR for Christmas, and I was so interested and amazed by the quality of the images this camera could produce that I decided to get one for myself. So two weeks after christmas I bought my first DSLR, a Canon 500D. I took pictures of almost everything: my parents, my little brother, my school mates, flowers and stuff. For the first time in my life, I really started to love the art of photography. But to be honest, all the pictures I took were awful, haha.

Phoblographer: What got you into portraiture?

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André: For my own practice I started to took portraits of my schoolmates. After school we walked through the streets of Cologne and I tried my best to took some nice shots of this guys. Somehow they trusted me and it was kinda cool. It was a good practice for “seeing“ the light because from the beginning I was only shooting with natural light.

Phoblographer: You’re into lots of backlighting and natural light portraiture. What attracts you to creating images like this? Have you ever thought about trying something else like using a flash in a studio?

André: I just think about it (using flash) for the future, for some jobs where you take some flashy portraits or something. But for my own style, I don’t need any flash or a big bag of gear. I love the natural light, the natural situation. I just don’t like these staged pictures with unnatural poses and light. Don’t really know why, it’s just my own taste.

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There’s nothing more beautiful than the sunlight, especially in the evening in my opinion. That’s the reason I create these pictures, because they have to attract my self in the first place. I do this all for myself.

Phoblographer: You photograph lots of women, though you indeed do photograph men, too. What’s the shooting process like? Is there storyboarding involved? Do you just roll with it as the shoot goes?

André: I’m always trying to create some kind of atmosphere. Of course, there’s a mood board and everything. But the most stuff comes very spontaneously. And that’s what is giving my pictures this feeling I think. I am not that great in planning. I just go with the situation, with the light, the atmosphere. I try to capture exactly this. When I would start to think about it too much, I think the pictures would look differently.

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Phoblographer: Where do you draw your inspiration from and how do you go about choosing new locations to shoot in?

André: I draw inspiration from everything I see, like a movie or other photographers on tumblr for example. But I am also inspired by music. I want my pictures to be like a song. You get some kind of feel when you hear music, a song gets you in a special mood and take you away, that’s what I want with my pictures. I am not really searching for locations, I just go out (or stay in the flat haha) and do pictures. Sometimes when I am having a walk, I see a cool street or a cool house and I think of it the next time I consider places for a shooting. But I am not really searching.

Phoblographer: Every photographer has that “Eureka” moment. During the shooting, directing and editing process, how do you usually know when you’ve got an image that you’re really happy with?

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André: I am very quick at choosing the pictures from a shooting. And I know THE picture, when I see it. Sometimes that moment doesn’t come at a shoot, then I got a lot of good pictures, but not that blockbuster special one. Often I realize it on-camera. It is different for every new shooting.

Phoblographer: How do you go about getting new subjects to photograph and what are the initial conversations like before the camera is even picked up?

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André: Most of the time I find models on Facebook or Instagram. I am not a big fan of agencies. Oftentimes they really talk too much, but they are lazy and not that reliable.

It’s funny, because every time I write someone and ask for a shoot, I think to myself, “Oh man, am I the old pervert hobby photographer right now?” Because every time I think the model doesn’t know me. Much to my surprise, 95% are very happy that I write them and often they even say that they thought I would never ask and that they were afraid to ask by themselves because they think I have enough models on my list.

But hey, I love to get to know and shoot new people – so write me!

Phoblographer: How do you feel your photography has improved over the past year and what is the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome?

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André: I gained confidence in myself. I am really aware of my own skills. Every shooting brings me experience. I can handle with any situation and any person. With regards to the technical, I think I improved my grading. I am really happy with the colors I am getting right now.

Phoblographer: How much time is usually spent shooting vs booking clients, editing, marketing, etc.?

André: It is very much the same every week. On weekends I shoot as much as possible. From Monday to Friday I do all the editing, marketing, planning new shootings and so on.

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