Making it Count, 36 Frames at a Time — an Interview with Sebastian Kortmann

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What you want to see on your photograph may be different than what your camera captures. There's no way to go around it, you just have to put in the work and trust the process. This is one of the most important takeaways from our recent interview with Sebastian Kortmann.

We talked to him about his career, photographic style, and some things in between. We also got to ask him about his impressions on the CN 800 and the new LomoChrome Metropolis film. Spoiler alert: he loved the film. But we loved how he shared his thoughts even more. Do the work, everything will follow. Thanks for the reminder, Sebastian.

© Sebastian Kortmann, All rights reserved.

Hi, Sebastian and welcome to the Magazine! What do you do what got you started on your photography journey?

I think it was a school project when I was like, 15. We had a project in our art class and after that, I just started to read about photography. My first own camera was the Lomography Fisheye and from there I bought myself a digital camera and so on. I always found pleasure taking photos of my friends, situations, and moments. For me, it is my way to relive moments through the pictures I take.

Why choose film in this day and age?

For me, it’s about a whole different process to take pictures. I put myself in the position of not being able to shoot hundreds of pictures per hour, which is my most important upside to shooting on film. It makes me become more aware of what I’m doing in a specific moment. Through the 36 frames, I’m more curious about framing, lighting, and observing everything around me. So my photographic style changed completely since I switched to nearly shooting everything on film.

© Sebastian Kortmann, All rights reserved.

What do you like about it?

For me, it’s not about a nostalgic feeling or a celebration of some kind of retro style. It’s somehow a technical advantage, because of the latitude that film brings with it. Even though I can’t change my ISO setting on the run, I can always push and pull my films in the lab. I know that sounds a bit nerdy, but for me, it’s very important.

What inspires you to shoot? Who are the biggest influences in your work?

I wouldn’t say there is one big influence, but there's somehow a concept behind the inspiration I get. I consume quite a lot of media, whether it’s pictures or movies. A friend once said: “No Input = No Output.” and that’s the way I would describe it. It’s not about copying styles, it's about seeing stuff and projecting that on your own work.

© Sebastian Kortmann, All rights reserved.

How would you describe your style?

I’m always looking for a cinematic approach. Actually I’m not the biggest fan of over-saturated pictures or a ton of contrast. My pictures are often way flatter because I change that during the scanning process. But the most important thing for me is good looking skin color. It shouldn’t be too warm, cold, greenish or purple — it has to be on point.

Your photos that were taken with the LomoChrome Metropolis and Color Negative films just landed and we have to say that they fit your style quite well. What can you say about the films? How do you see yourself shooting with them in the future?

First of all, thanks again for giving me the opportunity to test the Metropolis at this early stage. I kinda liked how it handles the mixed light conditions because that’s always a tricky situation. I shot it at 400 ISO so it got a bit more washed out through my scanning, which I totally liked. So I would definitely recommend it if you are on the hunt for a more nostalgic look and special color schemes. The blue/golden colors of the film can be a good addition to many projects, especially in tungsten lighting. So I have to shoot another roll soon.

© Sebastian Kortmann, Photos taken with the LomoChrome Metropolis film

The CN 800 was some kind of love story. It such a perfect film because of its natural colors and versatility. I shot it in many different situations and it never failed me. What I like the most is, that it has some kind of greenish look to it, without affecting the skin tone too much. Through my scanning, I changed the contrast a bit to make it overall flatter, without changing anything with the saturation. Because I think that’s on point for me. For the last weeks, I always had a roll with me for those situations, where you want to keep a certain shutter speed and it worked out perfect every time. So I’m really looking forward to testing the CN 400 and I hope I can talk about that in the future too!

Any tips for photographers who would like to try out the Metropolis film?

I wouldn’t shoot it lower than 400 because I think it could get too much contrast. But that’s because of my personal preference and not about any technical conditions. If you are looking for that special look, use the Metropolis because you won’t get something that special elsewhere.

© Sebastian Kortmann, Photos taken with the Color Negative 800

Do you have upcoming projects? Please share them with our readers.

The most important thing for me in the next weeks will be my first zine. I’m going to make a preorder very soon and it will be a little book with nearly 100 pages. All shot in film and many of them are made with the CN 800. I've put a lot of work in this — working with an art director for the layout and a graphic artist for the cover and artwork. It will come with a screen print so you can put that on a wall or put it in a frame. So I’m really looking forward to this because it will be my first personal book and it’s a perfect last big project for the year and I hope it’s ready to be a good Christmas present.

© Sebastian Kortmann, All rights reserved.

What does a perfect day look like for you?

A perfect day for me is having breakfast with my girlfriend because she has the most perfect breakfast game there is, and after that, I mostly do some emails. I’m not the biggest fan of certain working hours so I often go with the flow. For me, it’s important to have people around me that have the same way of living and thinking that I do. I wouldn’t be able to have a partner that works in an office from 9 to 5 or couldn’t talk with me about the creative stuff I do. I really think such relationships won’t be as happy as they could be. And my friends, even those I know since I was a child, work in creative fields.

To end a perfect day, for me it’s about cooking. I would call myself ambitious in the kitchen, so there are no simple dishes in the evening. And yeah, of course taking pictures! Even if I’m not shooting any professional photos on a day, I at least try to shoot three pictures I like with my phone. It’s a nice challenge I would recommend to everyone!

Any last words for our readers?

Find your own style. If it’s film, digital or iPhone pictures, do what you love and it will be recognized.


We would like to thank Sebastian for letting us feature his images in the Magazine. If you're interested in his work, please visit his website and Instagram for more.

written by cheeo on 2019-12-25 #culture #people #interview #analogue #artist #metropolis-film #sebastian-kortmann

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