The holidays are all about sharing! This season, inspire Instagram envy among your friends and followers with tips from celebrated international photographer, Jimmy Cohrssen. A Paris DJ in his past life, Jimmy left le disco for the lens over 20 years ago, and most recently partnered with the iconic French brands, Le Meridien and Air France, to launch A Photographer’s Journey: A Discovery of Details from Takeoff to Turndown in November.
A native of the DC area, Jimmy has worked with brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Helmut Lang and Virgin Records, so he knows how to capture a moment you don’t want to miss.
What is your favorite thing about Instagram?
JC: It’s instant. I started using an iPhone this year (late to the party, I know…), but I love the fact that the camera is in my pocket all the time and I can transmit that thing I just saw, photographed, made me laugh etc.. instantly. Instagram also lets you tap into an audience you didn’t know you had. The hashtags are amazing… I could spend days surfing those..
Do you have a favorite subject matter to shoot?
JC: I rather love food. I have always adored those billions of food shots the Japanese take before they eat. Architecture would come next.
Any favorite Instagram-ers you follow?
JC: There is not really one person… I love to follow people who travel and pay attention to details. Patricia Fortunato (PFORTUNATO) who I worked with at Conde Nast Traveler has a good traveling eye. Stephen Wong (WONGWONGS) is a great designer who I worked with at Helmut Lang who has an amazing eye for design. My friend and assistant in Japan, Yusuke (YUSUKE_MOBILE) has gotten quite good at Instagram in recent years as well. And one of the best drummers, world traveler and an old friend, Alexis Fleisig (MACARONIC) post really fun travel photos as well.
If you could create your own version of Instagram (perhaps to have a few more capabilities available on professional cameras), what would you do differently (if anything)?
JC: The low resolution is a sticking point for me. I’ve made some amazing images with Instagram and their filters but besides web…you can’t do much more with them.
If we could recreate some of the lens variety that you have with a professional camera, then we’d be talking.
What is your favorite camera to use that isn’t your iPhone?
JC: The trip I took for Le Meridien and Air France was shot with the Canon 5D II which has been my best friend for many years. Shooting on planes can be challenging so I also bought the Olympus Pen 3 to use when on the plane or running around town.
Of the destinations you visited on the ‘Photographer’s Journey’, what was your favorite stop as far as interesting/compelling subject matter?
JC: As much as I love Paris and the Orient…. I would have to stay Bora Bora is utterly breathtaking.
What is your favorite photo from the campaign? Why?
JC: I think the sunrise shot of Shanghai from the rooftop of Le Meridian is my favorite. I think the image is surreal.. like Blade Runner. It was shot from the 70th floor rooftop and I was standing on the ledge without a guardrail, so a great memory of escaping death too….
What are your top 3 tips on snapping an Instagram photo that is guaranteed to generate likes/followers?
JC: Remember it’s a square. I shot medium format so I’m no stranger to this format. Catch people’s eye. Be it a vibrant color, humor, tasty food. Draw the viewer in… catch their attention.
Is there anything that a photography and Instagram novice can do immediately to make their Insta photos more compelling/’liked’? i.e. could be as simple as turning the lens on a 45 degree angle or use specific ‘treatments’ depending on the time of day or subject?
JC: Frame things well. Sunsets and sunrises are always winners, and don’t be afraid to get close.. capture a detail.
What is the craziest place that you’ve spent the holidays?
JC: I’ve always loved New Year’s in Paris. People take to the streets and the champagne is literally passed around.
In a world where everyone is now a photographer, what advice do you have for someone using Instagram that really wants to get noticed for their actual photography skills?
JC: It’s an instant world now. Everyone has a camera, and everyone is a photographer. Take the time to think, create your own eye.. your own style. Don’t mimic …. just create. And the glory of our digital age is you can shoot thousands of images and not spend a penny at the lab… so go nuts.
What are your favorite holiday-themed subjects to shoot?
People? Parties? Decorations?
JC: Food!!! Is it Thanksgiving yet?