Sebastian Kortmann is an exciting photographer based in Cologne, Germany. He frequently works with both analogue and digital cameras, and has created everything from conceptual films to abstract photos. Sebastian's bold portraiture mixes gritty, modern realism with a touch of the otherworldly — his subjects are often pictured in an urban environment that seems bathed in glowing light or surrounded by an ethereal glow.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Sebastian to find out more about his work.
Hey Sebastian, please tell us about your journey into photography. Who or what inspired you to shoot?
I started taking photos after a school project I had when I was like 15. The first camera I bought back then was a Lomography Fisheye and I just snapped everything I did. From vacations to every damn weekend with my friends, everything was documented.
Today it’s more of a confidence in the ability to create pictures just like I concepted them. It was a long journey from having ideas to really be able to get my pictures like I want them to be. But right now I’m happy where I’m at, my friends are mostly doing something similar and therefore we try to push each other.
You also make films. How do you made the transition from photography to creating films? Do you have any tips?
People tend to forget, that making films is like my main job. I always enjoyed writing and being creative in a conceptional way. And working as a director give me the opportunity to tell stories, being way more emotional and express myself a little bit more. The transition for me is actually easier than expected, because I work more in a visual way in a deep relation to the DOPs.
Do you have a creative process?
Actually I consume a lot. And with that in mind I’m constantly trying to manage what I consume. So I’m not someone who’s scrolling through feeds like a zombie. I try to really just consume what inspires me or helps me being creative. The main sentence: “Not Input = No Output” is a deep fundamental understanding of being creative for me. So everything from museums, to artist I follow and yes even Tumblr (still great source of good moodboards), is part of my daily consumption.
Another big part is the fact, that I shoot like 90% in film. This follows a bigger effort in thinking about what to do upfront. Because you must be confident, that the lighting conditions are good enough. This “restriction” helps me a lot staying out of a creative chaos.
What inspires you today?
Right now I’m all about artificial lighting. I was never the biggest fan of those warm sunset vibes and generally feel more attracted to the darker side. So I’m trying to find my perfect way of working with artificial light sources, projections, night times.
Thank you for your time. Any upcoming projects we can look forward to?
Always. I’m still grateful for every opportunity to express my thoughts and you guys pushed me a lot with some picture of mine you presented.
I’m going to shoot my biggest direction project in the next weeks for one of the biggest two sporting goods companies and right now I’m busy figuring everything out. But I'm thrilled to shoot this, because I worked very long and hard to get to this opportunity.
For more information from Sebastian you can reach him through his Instagram @sebastiankortmann or his website portfolio at