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Playing with reality and truth in photography

4 years ago

Jakob Schnetz was born in Freiburg, Germany, in 1991. He works in the fields of editorial and documentary photography. His focus, besides his assignments, is on personal long-term projects mainly dealing with societal structures. 

He was shortlisted in the Professional competition of the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards with his series 'A Reindeer & A Burning Oil Can'. 


Hi Jakob. Thanks for chatting! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about you and your work

Nice to meet you. I work as an editorial, portrait and sometimes a commercial photographer. In my personal projects, I use the medium of photography not to tell stories but to create an atmosphere of connotations – for me it is always important to play with the terms of reality and truth, because the general understanding of photography is strongly related to the consideration "it was like this" instead of "this is a picture, which a certain person with a certain view of the world made at a certain time and with a certain intention." I want to use photography in a way, combining staging and "documenting" to think about this attribute of the medium.

Why photography? What does the medium mean to you? How did you get started?

I started to photograph as a tool to paint the picture photo-realistic. But then there was a point when I discovered the immediacy of photography. I'm fascinated by the medium because it is highly manipulative. Every day we all face hundreds of images – they shape how we see and understand the world. But at the same time, these pictures are just pictures of a certain, subjective reality related to socialization etc, not reality itself.


Tell us more about your successful image series, 'A Reindeer & A Burning Oil Can', which was Shortlisted in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards

This series tries to address and break the common understanding of photography as a neutral "document" on the one hand; on the other, it aims to think about the pictures of the "east" we have in our mind. Mostly, they are related to bleakness, isolation, archaic, being far from the civilized world, militarism, relicts of the soviet union to name a few. These stereotypes strongly relate to a (cultural) hegemony of the "west".


Do you have a photographic philosophy?

I don't trust images. I don't think that photography can give us answers but just ask questions.

Where in the world are you and what's next for you?

I based in Hanover, Germany and I am currently working on a series about labor. On the other hand, I continue my research to complete this ongoing project 'A Reindeer & A Burning Oil Can'.