Steffen Jahn takes picture of everything that is beautiful and fast. He is traveling to the most breathtaking locations worldwide for the car- and aerospace-industry.
CD: Steffen, so glad you could join us, and thank you for doing this. So – we’ve known each other for a while and you just keep getting better and better – your work is still so precise but also a lot looser now. Lets start with when you were ten-years old (and to crib from the Megadeluxe article) – why did you build a full-scale cockpit for an A-10 Thunderbolt in your bedroom and how did your parents respond?
Hi Cameron – thank you very much for your invitation to FUSEVISUAL. Its really nice to join the fantastic photographers you already have here.
I was into planes and flying very early – and the only detailed picture of a cockpit I could find in a magazine was from the A-10. So with lots of plywood, christmas lights, cut out avionic-pictures from the manufacturers brochures ( remember: downloads and printers were not invented then ) I made my own cockpit. Even the view out of the window changed when I moved the stick ( due to a clever rope-mechanism ). My parents were proud that I was such an inventor – but would probably been happier without the weapon-selector I assume.
CD: You started out in a major German car studio. How did that come about, how many years did you stay there and when did you make the big jump?
Steffen Jahn: In Germany you can learn a profession by apprenticeship – I stayed 2 years in this studio that was focussed exclusively on cars, and was lucky enough to assist many famous photographers. I became a freelance assistant for several years and travelled the world – from Route 66 to New Zealand – from Norway to South Africa.
CD: You made a very funny video about the Leaf Credo back and how you would not return it to them. How did Leaf respond and even more important, how did your clients?
Steffen Jahn: The video was done in a rush right after I returned from the BMW Zagato shoot. I was waiting for the courier to pick up the back to ship it to Leaf (as a proper German I had to return this precious back – right?). But in the end, Leaf offered me a nice trade-in for my old back. Not one of my clients ever mentioned that video to me – luckily, I had days where my hair looked cooler!
CD: What do you look for in a team for your shoots – especially assistants and producers?
Steffen Jahn: I’m into the non-diva approach. No dog-and-pony-shows, so I work with the smallest team possible. I love to work with dedicated people who are focussed on the result. A team that gives input and comments. I’m not a one-person-show – its always teamwork !
CD: What vehicle would you most like to photograph and if you could take it to anywhere in the world, other than New Zealand, where would you go?
Steffen Jahn: I never shot one of the most iconic cars of the world – the Land Rover Discovery. So this would be my choice to travel to Hawaii ( never been there, amazing landscape ) or Mongolia – the wide open land must be an amazing view.
CD: What advice would you give a young person about to embark on a career as a car shooter? How would they go about entering this part of the profession?
Steffen Jahn: Give yourself a briefing – rent a proper car and go out and do it! Many of my images were shot with only a little kit – but on a great location with a concept. Spend your precious money on shooting – not gear!