Interview with photographer Sven Jacobsen

Time is luxury – relaxation, deceleration, time for yourself, nature, less – but only the best – this trend theme of our society is reflected in the campaign, the shooting location as well as in HANRO’s autumn-winter collection 2017. For the mise-en-scène of the shooting, it was necessary to find a very special photographer personage and a suitable location, in line with the attitude of the brand and the autumn-winter 17 collection by HANRO. Our choice fell on Sven Jacobsen as the artist, known for his emotional, authentic, and classic photography style, and on Iceland as the location, the legendary island with its vast, pristine, and breath-taking nature.
“Sven's pictures affect you. They hit the heart and are extremely pure, gentle, full of soul, clear, simply GENUINE – without bling-bling and overloaded styling. Exactly this style suits HANRO and its trendy autumn-winter collection Time is luxury of 2017,” Stephan Hohmann, HANRO’s managing director, explained at the presentation of the collection.

  1. What did you do for the first time recently?
    I am doing each photo for the very first time.

  2. How would you describe your signature style? What is typical about your images?
    My images are authentic, honest, emotional and simple. They only need a little touch up, no perfection, they speak for themselves and are reduced to the essential.

  3. Is there a formula for success for emotional images? 
    Yes I believe there is: if you understand photography as an expression of one’s own emotions and moods…. just like in music or painting. Depending on the mood I am susceptible for certain situations and then capture these in my images.

  4. Your biggest flops? (images which were not chosen) and your greatest tops (your best image)?
    The biggest flops are mostly advertisement images that have been assembled from different image elements, which would not have been necessary. Here the focus is too much on perfection in every single detail, on technique, on the light, on the product. All this work destroys the emotional effect of the images.

  5. Do you have a favorite picture?
    One of my favorite images is one of my son Lui. Of course it is very personal.

  6. Who were/are your idols – in the past and today? Who do you admire? 
    I do not have any idols or role models, but I do like some photographers a lot:
    - Richard Avedon
    - Roger Ballen
    - Mary Ellen Mark
    - James Nachtwey
    - Jürgen Teller
    - Wolfgang Tilmanns
    The images of these artists are so special and wonderfully unapologetic. They are raw, emotional and honest. Sometimes warm, sometimes a bit sober / austere, but that doesn’t matter. They just get to me. 

  7. How and when did you start in photography? Do you remember your first experience with photography?
    At the age of 14 I started to do black and white images of my friends and developed them myself in my darkroom in the cellar. 

  8. What will you do in 10 years? Wishes? Intentions?
    I can only think about my thoughts and plans for the next 5 years. My wish is to stay happy and content with photography just like I am now and in the future. My only intention is to stay true to myself and only do what I really like.

  9. Did the role of photography change a lot in the last years?
    Yes, a lot.
    With the rise of digital photography and Social media, the world slowly started to get flooded by images. Photography itself became much more random with the rise of the smart phone and has become a mass media phenomenon. The single image loses its value more and more. Unfortunately, how people view an image is changing because they are exposed to such a mass of images and overstimulation. However, really good and high-quality photography is still the exception. These images are generated differently: with care, experience, a vision and great sensitivity.

  10. Of which celebrity person would you like to take a photo one time?
    The Queen, the Rolling Stones, the Dalai Lama… there are so many really interesting characters.

  11. Your favorite travel destinations  – and why?
    My favorite travel locations are South Africa and California, mainly because of the climate, their surf and skater culture / lifestyle. In general I feel good almost everywhere there is the sea.

  12. How do you cope with pressure at photo shoots?
    I try not to get under pressure, I try to relax and stay focused on my work.

  13. How is a lingerie photo shoot different to any other lifestyle or fashion photo shoot?
    Of course everything is much more personal and much more sensitive, because the models just wear less clothing and are sometimes almost naked. I am more calm and sensitive with the person that I am taking a picture of. Ideally I am working with a very small team, where all people involved have tactfulness and experience in lingerie.

  14. Do you build up a relationship to the models at the photo shoot? Do you fall in love? What is on the forefront for you?
    Yes I do build relationships – the closer we become, the easier and faster I get good images. This relationship is only a professional one. I have never ever fallen in love with a model. Naturally as a “visual” person I find many things appealing – but I only use these emotions for a good image.

  15. What did you find especially fascinating and unique about Iceland?
    It’s impressive landscape, the width, the calm, the surreal moss, lava landscape and the “emptiness“, to sum it up with one world, nature?

  16. What was the great challenge of this shoot? What was the best moment?
    A great challenge was to take a good picture of the model in the icy cold that was quick and on point. In this climate and setup, you don’t have much time for experiments and you can’t try and change a lot of things. Everything has to be perfect and you work together for a very short time – so you have to know exactly what you are doing. It was incredible to watch how tough and tenacious the model was – she was super professional. She was lying almost naked on the ice cold moss for minutes while the team stood around her and they were freezing even in thick winter coats.It was also spectacular to start in the morning while it was still dark, and slowly dive into the day and watch the landscape.

  17. Topic „Time is Luxury“: how do you make sure to relax and decompress?
    By trying to stay in the present and live in the moment, to live and enjoy every moment.