Join Lomography's exclusive interview with the witty German portrait photographer Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert on how he breaks the stereotypes of portrait photography in the context of gender norms and traditional masculinity
Hi Joseph, welcome to Lomography Magazine! Firstly, what aspect of your creative process do you love most when shooting portraits?
Hey there! Thank you very much! I am happy to be part of it.
I like the aspect of challenging myself every time I have a photoshoot going on. as an artist, you are your harshest critic. I still try to get closer to my ideal picture. Nothing kills creativity more than boredom and I try to make the time while shooting, for me and for my subject, a great experience.
Most photographers would take pictures of women in their most intimate, so it's very refreshing to see portraits of men in their most intimate, and vulnerable. What do you look for a male portrait when shooting one?
I don't feel like I work differently with man and woman, all I want to do is get to know the person and to create something together. I look after many things when I take photos: colors, position, composition, background and most importantly, lights! I don't care if the person is male, female, or whatever. My intention is to let people see themselves when they look at my photos. It's about questioning yourself and to figure out who we are and what makes us different or what we have in common. When I shoot fashion I always put the portrait in focus. And I don't like "sexiness“ that much in my photos. Of course it happens, but they are not my favorites. It's more about the clear authentic look in a portrait I am interested in.
Everyone can now take their own portraits. For you, what's the purpose of portraiture in a selfie-ridden culture?
Everyone has a kitchen at home but doesn't mean they can cook. And even if you can cook you still like to go to restaurants because you wanna enjoy the way others do it. When people ask me for a portrait shooting they do it because they wanna see themselves from my perspective.
Share us a secret. Do you think men are just as stereotyped like women? What's the most common misconception society/media/people make when it comes to men?
I guess it's the stereotype that men are stupid, and yes a lot are, but often they are just being lazy and try to look stupid so they can get through with everything but actually, they know exactly what's going on.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Who are your muses?
My bed is my muse. I love my bed. It's an old French oak-wooden bed from the 19th century. I feel like King Louis XIV everytime I sleep in it. How can this not be inspirational?
If you could work or collaborate with any photographer, who would it be?
Kim Kardashian could teach me some selfie tips maybe.
What do you usually do during your downtime? Any on-going project, or other plans you're keen to work on?
Yes! I am opening my own gallery in May, Prenzlauer Allee 7, Berlin. it's called P7. but there is no final date yet. and my second book "DARLINGS!“ is on its way. Stay tuned!