Josh Kern: An Observation in Analog


Josh Kern is a Germany based photographer who's work feels like it's been upheaved from the 1990's. Creating an intimate portrayal of his life and those who inhabit it, skateboarding, hanging out, or even just capturing the glimpses of one look to another. Josh's work seems more like an observational diary than anything. We got to speak with him about his work, influences and his take on why he chooses film.

Hi Josh, welcome to the magazine, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hey, thank you so much for having me! I’m currently studying photography in Dortmund, Germany. I spend most of my spare time strolling around with my friends, skateboarding or reading.

Would you consider yourself more as a mixed media artist or as a photographer? You seem to work with both.

I would consider myself as a photographer. Although I do both – journaling and taking pictures – I feel that my notebooks belong more to myself. I would never think of me as an artist while I’m locked in my room and scribble and tape things into my notebooks. It's just something that helps me to get along.

What made you get into photography?

Definitely skateboarding. We were always out filming and photographing each other, so I somehow grew up with the medium of photography, but really enjoying the pure act of taking pictures was something I discovered three or four years ago.

What is it about film that you're attracted to over digital?

I just love the idea of turning a moment or feeling directly into a physical thing, something you can hold in your hands. I always feel like its kind of a more natural way to create something, than to end up with information on your SD card. Also, the whole process of loading, developing and printing is so intense to me every time anew. I’ve never felt this excitement while shooting digital.

You like to showcase these very raw and intimate moments. Are the people in your photos friends, models?

In my case - hanging out with my friends and taking pictures is one and the same. I always feel like the better I know someone the more natural the person appears on my photos. Taking pictures of strangers or friends of friends never really interested me. I like the idea that my photographs are completely honest, like I wasn’t even there. I don’t want anyone to please me or to pretend to be someone they are truly not, and thats only possible if the people I hang out with really feel comfortable around me.

Talk to us about your framing with the writing and the notebooks, why choose to frame in this way?

My notebooks are just a way to deal with my feelings and to leave things behind. I don’t think much about how or why I do it. The process just developed itself over time.

You seem to bridge off of influences such as Ed Templeton, who or what influences you and why?

Yes, I definitely enjoy the work of Ed Templeton. But I’m also inspired by so many different artists like Sophie Calle, Luc Delahaye or even by authors like Hermann Hesse or Jack Kerouac. I just love people who are obsessed with their work and not afraid to turn their inside out for everyone else to see. This doesn’t necessary have to be through photography. I’m just interested in peoples feelings in general and also somehow attracted to their madness.

Why do you think there's been such a major resurgence of analog media and influence of 90's culture in the past couple of years?

I love this question but Im not quite sure how to explain how I feel about this topic.. I guess nowadays, almost everything seems already planned out and safe. Everyone aims to be perfect (me too) and with the help of technology, it actually seems practicable. But perfectionism isn’t human, its simply impossible to archive and it only makes you feel numb in the end. So I think this whole resurgence is just a longing for a culture were we had a bit more of mystery or even danger in our daily lives. Right now I’m probably talking about a culture that is way older than the 90’s but theres definitely a rebellion against perfectionism going on today. I mean, all of this still exists today, its just harder to find and you really have to look for it.

What do you hope viewers take away from your photos?

I really hope that my photographs make people feel and motivate to step out of whats expected. When I look at the work of my favorite artists, I always feel so connected and understood. For me, there’s nothing like seeing a piece of art that resonates with my own unique world. So I just want to give some of these feelings back.
Photography gave me permission to not be shy and the ability to express myself which completely changed my life. If I can only inspire one person to do the same - Im happy.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m currently working on a crowdfunding campaign to publish my book, which will be live in a few weeks. I’m also planning a trip to Russia this year. I’m really curious about different youth cultures and since I don’t know much about it in Russia, I would love to connect with some people over there.

Discover more of Josh's work on his Instagram and Website

Josh also launched a Kickstarter to fund his new book.

written by sarahlindsayk on 2018-07-15

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