The lovely Sasha Lee from Beautiful/Decay, recently made a interview with me about my vision and approach to photography, aesthetic influences etc. It’s featured on their site as per today. Click below to read the full interview.
Fashion, portrait and landscape photographer Jacob Langvad creates stunning, iconic images that traverse a wide range of subject matters, concepts and geographic locations. His unique vision has earned him accolades and internationally published advertising campaigns with companies such as Eastpak, Nike and Nokia. B/D recently interviewed Jacob to discuss his vision and approach to photography, his aesthetic influences, favorite shoots and exciting upcoming projects.
SL: So why were you originally drawn to photography?
JL: Well, It started very long time ago when I was about 15 or so. I found my dad’s old SLR and got curious. I loved drawing before that, and everything visual. Then I built a small darkroom in our apartment and got hooked on photography. In high school I ran the school magazine with some friends and loved writing and photographing for it. Then I heard about the possibility of getting an education as a photojournalist and thought that was it! Oh, and our neighbor’s son was a photojournalist at the local newspaper. I think I owe him a big part of it as well.
SL: What were those early pictures like, with your Dad’s old SLR?
JL: Oh my…. I can hardly remember. Black & white, a lot of structures, surfaces, shadows etc. I liked riding around on my bike to deserted areas, like harbors or fishermen’s shelters. Then I would take pictures of it. Actually, when I think of it, it’s pretty much the same when I’ve been in the states and other places. I like to just book a ticket somewhere and a rental car and then drive around for 2-3 weeks by myself and photograph landscapes and portraits….
SL: What about photography appealed to you more than drawing, which you pursued earlier?
JL: Well, I wasn’t a big talent in drawing. I was just drawing cartoonish faces etc. I guess I didn’t have the patience to take it further. I never considered that.
I was much more interested in journalism and found a way to combine the visual with journalism. However, during the photojournalism education I got quite disillusioned about a future as a photojournalist – because most people end up in newspapers doing too many jobs a day and the pictures get printed in low quality. I had some fellow students who were experimenting with other expressions and some did really nice personal work. They kind of opened up the idea of taking it further, away from classic photojournalism. After graduating, I received a scholarship at FABRICA (fabrica.it), which is Benetton’s communication research center. Do you know it?
SL: No, I’m not familiar with it?
JL: It’s a very interesting place. They invite young creative people from all over the world to come and work for them and together for a year.
SL: So I noticed on your site you have three different categories- landscape, fashion and portrait photography. What’s your approach to each divergent subject matter- and what are some of the considerations you have to take into account when working within these different genres?
JL: Hmmm. I really like all three genres a lot. I just uploaded a few more landscapes today for the latest project I’ve done for Nike. I love fashion photography a lot, like working in studios with other people. The landscapes are usually more personal work, but I want to make much more landscapes in the future. It’s difficult to explain what exactly are my criteria, but for me they all have some mysterious feeling that makes you keep looking at the photo. I try the same with the fashion and portrait. I really like doing portraits. Some people say they can recognize when they see one of my pictures in a magazine. Maybe it’s the atmosphere or the look in peoples eyes, I can’t tell.
SL: Yeah I really enjoy the landscapes as well. They remind me a little of Andreas Gursky at times?
JL: Oh… That’s a big compliment! He’s one of my heroes.
SL: Some of the images that show macrocosm/microcosm in a poetic fashion sort of touch upon Gursky’s themes. Some of your images have some really beautiful moments. When organic forms and man-made structures have these odd dialogues and interactions.
JL: I wish I could work like him. What I like about being a photographer, is that I can keep developing my own language for as long as I work.
SL: So you mentioned Gursky…what other artists do you admire?
Or…who or what are the biggest influences on your own visual style?
JL: I’m a big fan of Nadav Kander, Ben Stockley, James Nachtwey. I could mention so many…I like Timur Celikdag a lot, and Alasdair Mclellan, Taryn Simon, and Joel Sternfeld.
SL: So what was one of your favorite shoots?
JL: I really enjoyed doing the Eastpak shoot. (Around no. 17 under portraits on the the website.) It was a big production in Costa Rica. We had plenty of time to find locations and prepare; was a big challenge and fun and hard to make.
JL: The job I mentioned before for Nike was quite a perfect job for me as well.
SL: Yeah can you expand on that one too?
JL: The company I work in, which is a kind of design studio with a sociologic approach, we commissioned (together with our sister company) to do a market research on football culture in South America. So I was traveling in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil are doing portraits and landscapes. The final book is almost 400p with 185 pictures of mine. It looks really nice.
SL: So any exciting projects coming up?
JL: There are a lot of projects here in this company… Some of them very interesting, but I’m not sure I can tell too much about them. We’ve won a big project for Unilever concerning a new product. So I will go there in a couple of weeks to make a lot of portraits and landscapes. Then my company will start producing small booklets with one subject per issue, 4 times a year. We’ve almost completed the production of the first one which is about street basketball here in Brazil… It’s interesting for us because it’s a completely American sport with so much focus on apparel and music. So we were investigating where they got their influences from and how the whole society around the sport worked.
Do you know COLORS magazine? (www.colorsmagazine.com)
SL: No, I’m not familiar?
JL: They were situated at FABRICA in Italy. I worked for them while I was there and became friends with one of the art directors on the magazine. He is the one I am working with today in Brazil.
SL: Can you describe the concept of the magazine and how your work fits into that?
JL: Colors or ours?
JL: The booklets are quite similar in the approach to the subjects as Colors. I mean it was through Colors Magazine I heard about Fabrica.
Anyway… The concept is to describe one subject per issue. It could be street basketball, conception of beauty in India, the orchard industry etc. etc. I’m working with an anthropologist, a journalist, a designer and some researcher. Some of the issues will be more ‘free’ and some are produced so we later on can approach potential clients to show how we work or to show we have a big knowledge on a given subject… And then we really enjoy doing projects like this. I still have a big interest in photojournalism, but I’m not interested in shooting for newspapers…. This is an amazing opportunity to explore and produce. The booklet is a way to brand our company.
SL: That’s all the questions I had…Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JL: Hmm… Can’t think of anything. Thanks!