An interview w/DSGN-LAB collaborative Director of Photography Jasmin Kuhn
With one of the most colorful drool-worthy Instagram accounts on the digital scene, Jasmin Kuhn has won multiple awards for her commercial work in the United States and Asia. Naturally gifted in her craft, when she’s not on the job wrangling handfuls of men to get her stage set just right – you might catch Jasmin soaring around California on a skateboard or catching a wave in Malibu on her surfboard. With a passion for travelling around the world with her camera styled like a necklace, she explores other cultures in search for the perfect image that inevitably follows her back on set. Recently teaming up with DSGN-LAB on our latest iconic Cura-T3 ad that combines gorgeous hair footage with tactical motion art – I reached out to Jasmin to delve further into her prowess.
LR: Jasmin, with an edge for showcasing beauty, tell me how you became captivated by this genre and who/what inspired you?
JK: Since the first time I picked up a camera, at the age of 14, I have always been interested in creating a mood. I was influenced by Maya Deren, Stanley Kubrick, and Federico Fellini. During Art Center I got into Commercial work and fell in love with the idea of creating 30 second spots. There is an incredible amount of work that goes into these short pieces of art and that work excites me. All my spec commercials during school were very experimental – always pushing the boundaries of movement, light, and color. You can definitely say I was ‘different’. I think its incredibly important to have a voice as a Director, something that defines who you are as an artist.
LR: Defining your aesthetic is something you so stunningly illustrate. With such beauty that you yourself radiate, when you walk on set does the creative team ever confuse you as one of the models but then you grab the camera and tell them to get to work?
JK: Haha, that’s very nice of you to say! Although I have been in front of the camera a couple of times, which was fun, being behind the camera is where my passion really lies, and what is most empowering—for me.
LR: When you’ve been on both sides of the lens you become a powerful player by having more of a thorough understanding of the stage. As a Director as well as a Director of Photography, Women in these particular media roles are the minority, how did you begin building your ladder of success?
JK: When I started out in Film School there were only 12 Women out of 100 film students. Despite these incredible odds, I would never let myself be daunted. Maybe I was foolish? But, I never doubted that I would make it as a Director and Cinematographer. This journey still continues for me. In some ways, gaining trust from the crew as a Cinematographer is sometimes harder than when I’m the Director. Maybe because it’s more of a gear oriented macho position that some Men still have issues around a Woman telling them where to put a light?
LR: You’ve most likely also been faced with an age difference as well. Being told to set the stage, not only from a Woman, but one that is younger can be really challenging for certain egos. What is the most important thing that Men should understand about Women in these leadership roles?
JK: To say that we’re all the same skates the issue. Naturally, there are differences between Men and Women and their leadership styles. I never try to be more masculine when I’m Directing or leading Men while I’m on a set. I think it’s important for both Men and Women to accept their differences and understand each other so we can all make art together. To all Men, I say, when a Woman gains that leadership role, trust that she went through a lot to get there. Respect her and she will respect you back!
LR: What are your secret skills when capturing the perfect shot?
JK: I’m very intuitive when I work. If it doesn’t look right or feel right, I work on it until it does. Work is the key word here. Even though I create intuitively, I work through these feelings a lot before I get on set. I move many things around in my storyboards and I research a lot of images & sounds to re-create these feelings that lead to the final images and compositions. When I say I feel, it isn’t only improvised, a lot of research and thought went in to getting there.
LR: With a passion for skateboarding, yet another male driven activity, how did you get interested in such a hobby?
JK: I have a big passion for the outdoors and recently took up surfing again. Surfing is a lot like skating, it is a very Male dominated sport. I joined an all Women’s skating group that I found through Instagram. I’ve met some amazing Women in this group and made some wonderful new friends. I love sharing this new passion with other Women that come together just to have fun. I have always felt that many great things can happen when Women come together and support one another.
LR: Your Instagram account (jasmink2) is stunning. With 22.6k followers, what year did you begin highlighting your work this way and when did it take off and launch into such a strong following?
JK: l started the layout about two years ago. I love it as it is an extension of my personal website portfolio. I always pre-visualize the next postings to make sure they work in the 3x tile layout and harmonize with the colors from the prior posting. I get a bit obsessive with it and often don’t post anything for a few days until it feels right—part of my creative process. I work a lot with celebrity talent in my commercial work overseas and that is how my following increased. I also focus on following other artists and creative accounts that interest me. It is such a great platform to get inspired and meet fellow creatives in the industry.
LR: Your creative imprint with Beauty is astonishing, but you also have your eye on other genres. What would your favorite runner up be?
JK: Cars, I would love to get into directing car commercials. Since we’ve been talking a lot about Male domination in the industry, that is one area I hope will start opening up for Women. When it comes down to it, Cars are all about Beauty – and I know a thing or two about that!
LR: What can we look forward to seeing from you next?
JK: I am working on my first full length feature film, which I am currently writing for my Directorial debut. It’s a film about a young girl who gets trafficked in the US. I have always been interested in telling stories and I want my films to focus on Female centric issues. In my commercial work, I create a lot of make believe – it’s meant to be aspirational because I’m selling products. In my feature film work, I want to get to a truth that’s more raw—something that digs into our nature as human beings. Sometimes that can be uplifting and sometimes that might not be as beautiful as we hoped. You can follow that feature film Instagram page at @human_movie.
LR: Thank you for taking the time to share some insights. You are a strong and captivating Woman in media and I look forward to witnessing your evolution.
Lindsie Reitz is an editorial artist covering a wide range of topics that showcase creatives in all forms of media.
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