Life isn’t all black and white, but @jahansaber’s Instagram account makes you wish it were. With his black and white analogue shots of Vienna, he brings out the stark contrast of light, darkness and shadows in everyday scenes, making them movingly atmospheric. Born and raised in Vienna, Jahan Saber’s stunning Instagram shots have been beautifying our Instagram newsfeed in the last months.
Here’s 8 black and white scenes of Vienna, and some inspiring words from the artist who took them.
1.Describe your style in 9 words, or less.
Optimising, simple, easy-going.
2. What equipment do you use?
When it comes to photography, I use so many different cameras, it really depends on my mood and on the occasion. When it’s not for work, where I mainly use a Canon 5D, I shoot a lot of analogue film. My everyday choice is my Leica M6 paired with 35mm 1.4 Summilux. I carry that around all the time. I recently got myself a medium format Yashica Mat 124G, which is just amazing. Concerning analogue film, I use this contrast-y newly produced Japanese black and white film called JCH400. Apart from that I really like the Ilford Delta 400 or the Kodak Tri-x, especially because you can easily push them. When it comes to colour, there is really only one option for me and that’s the Kodak Porta 160.
3. Name three of your favourite locations where to shoot?
In terms of outdoors, it’s definitely anywhere in the countryside, usually somewhere close to mountains. The outside walls of the MUMOK have a beautiful structure and produce a great contrast if you’re shooting simple portraits. Otherwise, as for indoor photography, I like any place with a lot of natural light.
4. Tell us about your art; your motifs and subjects.
I’m working on a few different series right now, but if there’s something they all have in common is that they are all shot with analogue film. I like to see analogue photography (as opposed to digital photography) as something very tangible. When you take a picture with a digital camera you essentially produce a code in 0’s and 1’s, whereas a film is something that’s actually in front of you – it’s chemistry and physics. When I shoot, I try to adapt this philosophy to my photography. I want the viewer to feel the subjects. Especially when it’s things that happen in a micro-cosmos – the looks you catch, the moments that are frozen. They’ll leave endless room for interpretation.
5. Do you collaborate with people?
I’ve always been more of a lone wolf character when it comes to art and photography. Nevertheless, I’d always be happy to collaborate and exchange ideas with others.
6. What is the wildest experience you ever had photographing?
There’s a lot of exhilaration when you go to forbidden places, or you put yourself in dangerous situations to take photos, but I think the wildest experience is the daily confrontation with whatever you’re chasing. It’s the sitting in the metro and noticing a peculiar lady in front of you and thinking, “how am I going to take a picture of her without her changing her expression and remaining natural?” Sometimes, it’s those trivial daily things that make your heart pound. Or, even when you develop film for the first time, and you take out that spool from the developing tank and cross your fingers you didn’t mess up the process.
7. Did Instagram change how you see the world?
Instagram opened my eyes to the perspective of others. It’s very much based on popularity though, so its point of view can be skewed. Either way, it’s a great place for watching and learning.
8. Who’s your favourite Instagram artist that you’re currently following?
That’ll be @1924us – check him out if you don’t know him already. I admire his devotion to his cause.
9. What’s your favourite place in Vienna?
Bar: If Dogs Run Free – it’s very laid-back, yet chic-cool. The drinks are excellent, and it’s non-smoking.
Restaurant: Vietthao and Pizza Mari. Could eat at these places all the time.
Shop: Boesner. I could buy all stabilos in there and still wouldn’t have enough.
Sight: The Sissi monument in Volksgarten. Perfect place to read and relax.
10. What does Vienna mean to you, and how has it influenced your work?
Vienna is home-base. It’s the perfect starting point. Vienna is the kind of place you leave to come back to.
It’s underrated. There’s more to it than meets the eye, but only if you leave the mainstream path. You’ll always discover something new. It has the same effect on the work you do on it.
11. What’s your background photo on your phone?
One of the peaks of the Schneeberg in Lower Austria, where I went hiking last summer.
12. Is there any music that inspires you in your work?
There’s plenty! From all genres, too. But there’s nothing specific. Music has the effect as a motivator for me, to get me into my car and drive away to discover and explore. Or I try to better empathise the emotions that are common to songs and photographs. Even the music I make on my guitar helps me to structure thoughts, and tap into emotions that I portray in my photography.
13. Anything else you want to add?
I drive past the same building nearly every day. It’s guarded by a Soldier. 5 out of 10 times I see him doing something you wouldn’t expect from a soldier on duty. He’s texting on his phone, or fixing his hair in the reflection of a window. And every time I see a scene like this, I think, “damn, I should’ve taken a picture of this.” Usually I can’t take a picture because i’m driving myself, and every time I walk by, he seems to be acting disciplined. But what remains is the thought process that goes on in my head. The visual projection of the image I want to capture with a camera, before it’s even made. I can see the picture without having taken it yet. I think, when you know what you’re looking for, it’s a lot easier to get.