JB: André, good that we finally meet in person. First of all, tell us something about yourself.
AJ: My name is André, 32 years old. I'm a photographer and I'm from Cologne. I do a lot for brands like red bull, Nike, but also for tourism boards for countries like Australia or Japan. I photograph a lot by the way, I'm in cities and of course a lot outside. Photography is my passion. In addition to playing football, I had nothing that really got me excited. Then I found the photograph.
JB: How did you get to photography?
AJ: I had a general interest in visual things - paintings or photographs. My dad had a lot of photo books, which I often flipped through. But I only really started when I was 22 or 23 when my father got an old Sony. I grabbed it and I moved around for a few days to finally take a lot of pictures. That's when I realized that photography was so much fun for me, so taking pictures was a passion. However, I did not know then that I would ever make money with it.
André in der PERKUNAS JACKET
JB: What happened next?
AJ: During my apprenticeship with classmates I moved to Cologne after the vocational school and we just took a photo of it. The occasions were often simple, someone had a new camera and everyone wanted to try on her. I have to say that I did not do any photographer education. My apprenticeship is a scooter designer. However, the eye for the visual, how things are arranged, how they look good, I shared with my classmates. So we went and took pictures. We just wanted to take beautiful pictures. Gradually, I also photographed other motifs: I portrayed models - on the street, in the studio. At the same time, I was interested in football and other things, but never quite knew how to connect everything together.
JB: How did you finally manage to connect things together? Do you succeed?
AJ: Social media helped me connect everything. No one tells me which motives to upload. I could easily post my "fun projects". When the right people making important agency decisions saw my social media content, I was, with luck, asked. It's often about very concrete projects with specific ideas for the photo content. Even if my portfolio did not fit into a particular project, someone could get a picture of me, which style I have, if this can not be combined with a project.
JB: Who was the door opener for you then?
AJ: Someone on Nike followed me on Instagram and even though I mainly portrayed only female models then, someone saw a potential for the football department. Since then I was actually allowed to portray street footballers in Cologne. That also pleased Soccer Bible, which have an insane range. There was a feature of my imagery for Nike, and Nike thought it was great as well. That's why they invited me to the Champions League Final 2015. There I portrayed Jerome Boateng and Mario Gomez, Tiago and the fat old Ronaldo (André laughs). That was the beginning.
In addition to playing football, I had nothing that really got me excited. Then I found the photograph.
JB: That sounds like a really good start. How did you continue?
AJ: After all, there were not really any follow-up orders from other customers. Nike invited me over and over again. But that got me pretty good. The quality of my pictures changed, I came away from the pictures with models, to documentary photography. At some point I decided to do a road trip through the USA and posted it on Facebook. That someone from Mercedes read and contacted me to provide a suitable car.
JB: How did they come to you? With cars you had so far nothing to do.
AJ: I did a lot of road trips with friends without a sponsor and without much thought. I documented these trips with my camera and uploaded them to my social media accounts. So it happened that someone put together at Mercedes 1 + 1 and contacted me.
JB: What was the cooperation between you and the car manufacturer?
AJ: I was traveling with my girlfriend in the USA for 3 weeks with a nice mobile pedestal. I shot many pictures. Mercedes had at that time a content campaign with A $ ap Rocky, which called itself "Grow Up". They liked my authentic, documentary imagery so much that they used it as a visual concept template for the campaign. Of course, the images for the campaign were even more elaborate. Mercedes was thus the final springboard to make himself interesting for the market.
JB: Now we're sitting together because you support JECKYBENG x SEA SHEPHERD. You made some really stunning pictures for us. Why?
AJ: t's great to be successful, and it's also great that I've got a massive reach via social media. Of course talent is part of it, but even more luck. Many people follow me and, if I wanted to, I can influence others with my opinion, or at least make them aware of something. This involves a certain responsibility, I think. It's great to photograph models, post my trips, documentaries and then post. But it quickly loses value when I'm solely dedicated to staging myself and my skills. So why not use the range for a good cause and a higher purpose?
JB: A nice closing plea. Thank you for your time!
More works by André: JOSSELIN
and here's the podcast: