Robert Jahns is a digital artist, photographer and art director. The hamburger was voted into the list of the 50 best Instagram photographers and even took first place in the category “Art”. His methods of digital manipulation create surprising moments that staged people, nature and movements in a unique way.
Jahns is one of the most successful picture artists in Germany – on Instagram, he counts under the account @ nois7 currently about 1.2 million followers – more than about star photographer Peter Lindbergh. In the current LEAD Magazine 03/18 Robert Jahns is represented as an example of a successful Instagram account with one of his most popular works of art – the floating elephant. LEAD talked to Jahns about his work, the creative process behind it and Instagram as a distribution channel.
LEAD: You’re one of the most famous photographers on Instagram. How did you get to photography and digital imaging?
Robert Jahns: I have been photographing and editing my pictures for over 16 years now. I was really interested in photography when my dad bought a new digital camera. I grabbed it and went off. I worked for a long time in the advertising industry, but my real passions were always photography, image editing and traveling.
What does Instagram mean to you artistically?
Jahns: I have seen Instagram as a great opportunity for several years now. I started my account because it’s important to get feedback. I always wanted that as many people as possible see my work. Nowadays I am able to reach millions of people worldwide, which fascinates me again and again.
It’s wonderful to see that so many people feel inspired by my art. I get comments that I like Helping people survive illness or lead a better, more positive life. Seeing that my art touches many people is a gift for me.
And what significance does the platform have for you on business?
Over the years, of course, I spent many hours every day to establish myself as an artist and become known on Instagram. I currently reach eight to twelve million people around the world every month, which of course is also interesting for companies. Most of my clients value what I create and know what quality they get when they work with me. My pictures stand out from the crowd because they are unique and memorable. These are all factors that are of course very interesting for cooperation.
How do you choose your motives? Are there certain criteria?
Jahns: Mostly the idea in my head first arises. Then I look for pictures that could be eligible for the creation. Technically, there are many criteria that I take note of, so that in the end, the interaction of the individual images also works. It is very important to me that my pictures can trigger certain emotions in the viewer. Colors play a big role here.
When you have found a motive, what are your next steps?
Jahns: All next steps happen in post-processing on the computer. In the head is usually already the finished artwork, it is then to realize the picture. I experiment a lot with different pictures and pay attention to which composition has the most appropriate effect. A creation can take between two hours and several days.
Which tools do you use?
Jahns: As a camera system, I prefer Canon. I use the Canon 5D Mark IV with various lenses, actually a suitable one for each use. On the computer I work with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, various smartphone apps and a Wacom Intuos Pro.
Do you have specific tips for image editing?
Jahns: I can advise anyone to experiment a lot. But never copy concepts from other artists, because that’s not welcome. Inspiration is different than copying. Being original is the be-all and end-all. If you have an idea and do not know how to implement it, try everything to actually realize it. Along the way, you may make many mistakes that you will learn from, and you will discover new techniques of image manipulation that will make you better and better.
Which motive has the most demands on you?
Jahns: There are a lot of motives that are really very complicated, where I sat for several days. These include e.g. the motif “Rainbow Umbrella”, where you can see hundreds of umbrellas. I photographed all the umbrellas individually and then put them together, all raindrops individually worked in by hand. It took about one and a half weeks until the motive was actually finished. I put a lot of details and love into each new work and I am a total perfectionist, as far as my work is concerned.
Do you own a favorite work?
Jahns: One of my favorite pictures, which is also one of my most elaborate ones, is “NYC Balloons”. You can see the skyline of New York, thousands of balloons rising above it. The picture always conjures up a smile on my face, it is just so colorful and positive.
The profession of the photographer is currently changing. Especially on Instagram, millions of amateur photographers frolic. How do you see this change and what challenges does it bring you?
Jahns: One should know the difference between amateur photographer and professional. Not everyone who photographs is a photographer – even if he masters the technique of the camera. There is a lot more to it, including things that have nothing to do with photography itself.
Most of my work is marketing and social media. I present on big stages around the world, publish my book in September dream worlds, give interviews, plan exhibitions and regularly travel the world for my work. I’m lucky that my works are unique, so I’m a bit looser about the whole topic than maybe some others.
Focus on you!
The LEAD issue 3/2018 takes you into the world of photography. What role they and their digital re-use play today and what opportunities there are, you will learn in 3 exciting stories in the magazine. But topics such as e-sports, artificial intelligence and marketing technologies are also part of the current issue.