Julius Gabele started his photographic journey at the age of 13. He has been taking photos ever since and Julius is both a film and a digital photographer and that makes his work extremely diverse. In this interview, he gives us insight into his world of photography and reveals what influenced his photographic style the most.
Hey, Julius! I understand it's your first time in our magazine, so we wish you a warm welcome! How old were you when you took your very first photograph?
Thank you! I probably started taking photos around the age of 13. I used my dad’s cheap digicam and had no idea what I was doing. At the end of my high school years, I started working for a photographer, a friend of my brother’s, doing postproduction, helping out around the studio and learning some basic theoretical knowledge about photography.
How much has changed since then regarding your photographic style? What influenced your style of photography the most?
I started taking it more seriously while traveling after high school and during my studies. It just feels very natural to take photos, when you’re exposed to new surroundings on a daily basis. Plus, I started experimenting with my grandfather’s collection of old rangefinder cameras. He passed away before I was able to talk to him about photography, but he was a very talented amateur photographer and shot tons of film rolls during his deployment during World War II.
The decision to shoot more film opened up a new way of handling photography. It’s just weird; it dumbs it down a bit in comparison to digital photography but also makes it so much more complicated at the same time.
I tend not to overthink about what influences me. When you talk to other photographers or you’re exposed to iconic photographers’ work, I guess, you just pick stuff up inevitably without thinking about it. I’m both saddened and amazed by artists who know precisely about their influences and can articulate them. It feels very professional and boring at the same time.
In your opinion, what is the most rewarding thing about being a photographer? What made you fall in love with photography?
It’s tough not to sound super corny answering that question. The capturing-moments-and-stuff-thing is all very true. But I think it’s also a cool thing to be able to put a small aesthetically pleasing snippet of life on a piece of paper and hang it on a wall.
I think I just like being exposed to cool and creative stuff. However, I can’t make movies, I can’t design furniture, I can’t paint, I can’t write novels, I’m a shitty musician, but I think I good eye and the photography thing kind of works for me.
I understand you are currently living and working both in Barcelona and Augsburg. How do you manage to work in two different cities? What was the biggest challenge so far?
At the moment I’m back in Augsburg, my hometown. I’ve spent the last year in Barcelona and will probably be back for another long stretch next spring. The two cities are very different, and I feel like life is a little bit more fun in Barcelona, but there it’s also a little tougher to find jobs that pay well. But bundling up a few small jobs is always a good excuse to go to Barcelona for a few days.
What is your most significant source of inspiration? What sparks your imagination and desire to create?
Like I said earlier, I like being around cool stuff, and a lot of that can serve as a source of inspiration. I might hear a cool song, and I imagine, what kind of photo I’d use as the perfect album artwork, or I might watch a well-shot movie and I’m forced to pause it during a cool scene and take a mental note about a cool potential composition I could use at my next shooting. And sometimes just merely being bored can be a good inspiration to go out, have a coffee and to take a camera with you. You never know.
What would you say makes a memorable photo?
I think there are two categories of memorable photos. In the first group belong all the images that have a special meaning to you. You might remember a cool person, a cute little story or an exact feeling just by looking at them. They might be shitty photos by all technical standards and might have absolutely no meaning to anyone else.
In the second category are all the photos that are sort of objectively amazing. All kinds of different people might have some emotion by looking at it. For me, the memorable photos can be put in both the categories. Does this make any sense?
When you are out there shooting how much do you rely on your instincts? Do you plan your photoshoots?
Depends. Behind some of my photos are weeks of planning and waiting; I got to be at a particular time at a specific place and got to have the exact right equipment with me to take the photo I want to take. Others are the perfect snapshots. For example, I see something cool and have to get off the bus as quick as possible to take a shot. It’s weird; people who look at my photos will probably never be able to tell the difference.
What do you enjoy shooting the most?
Probably friends. And apparently friends I’ve been traveling with for a while, so they don’t care at all about being around a guy with a camera and just act as natural as it gets.
What was the best piece of advice someone gave you when you were starting out as a photographer?
I don’t have a story here. But I think I read an interview with the recording artist Nicolas Jaar a while ago during which he said something about his approach to writing and recording music. You start with an exact idea in your head and try to get it on a CD, but you mess up many times during the process and end up with something that might be drastically different from the original idea.
However, the outcome might be something special, too. I hope I didn’t butcher that quote, but that’s how I remember it anyway. I think this idea is elementary to apply to photography as well. I don’t think I ever took a photo that ended up exactly the way I had pictured it in my head before. But it doesn’t mean it’s not cool, though.
Do you have any exciting projects you would like to share with us?
I recently put together a series of my favorite travel photos. It’s called "What Went Down // 2015-2017" and is some loose collection of shots taken throughout the last three years of traveling mainly around Europe and Northern Africa.
Some shots were taken on weekend trips, others when I was living somewhere for an entire season, some during short breaks in between assignments on a busy street, others were planned for weeks. Some were shot on film, others digitally.