Whether standing face to face with a lioness and her cubs, swimming with sharks, dolphins or models, having double pneumonia and sepsis, finding himself in the middle of an armed riot, being on a mountain near an erupting volcano, getting arrested in a foreign country, breaking his back while climbing, being attacked by a Doberman or having severe food poisoning during a 22 hour flight, photographer Jesper Anhede’s life is anything but boring. And how could it be when he’s jet-setting to around 15 countries every year on assignment?
Whether on land, in the air, or under the water, Jesper’s work and career are full of adventures, stories and experiences some of which he shares with us in the interview below.
Tell our readers a bit about yourself and how you got started in photography.
Today, I work as a commercial, adventure and travel photographer based in the small city of Hjo in Sweden, but I work worldwide. I spend about half the year in Sweden and half the year abroad visiting around 15 different countries a year; sometimes short gigs for a few days and sometimes for as long as 2 months in one place.
In 2004, I won a camera in a contest and started taking photos. Before that, I had worked in film and television, as an editor/journalist for a magazine and ran my own marketing company for many years. So I had a pretty good idea about how communication works, and I tried to translate that visually into photography. I had no clue what I was doing the first years, but practice makes perfect and slowly after gazillions of photos, I got to where I am today.
What makes your photography different from other photographers in the industry? Do you have a specific style?
Many people who have been following me as a photographer over the years say that they can see what photos are mine even though they do not know it beforehand. But since I shoot so many different things, like an underwater hotel outside Africa one month and a holistic cattle ranch in Montana the next, and a rock band the third, I would say defining my genre and style is hard. Maybe it is like my cheesy tagline says: Kickass photos. No more. no less.
Go in detail about your journey to becoming a successful photographer. What were some things that slowed you down? What were some amazing success moments?
When I started to shoot, I didn’t have any mentors and I didn’t have any photography education at all; I did the trial and error journey. I would recommend any new photographer that is starting their career to get yourself a mentor, it will save a ton of time and money. Success moments: maybe swimming with wild dolphins together with your photo muse (that I also use as a photo assistant and model for my gigs), and take photos of them together, while at the same time realizing, “Holy smoke, Batman, I get paid to do this!” Or winning Travel Photography Awards is, of course, also nice, even though photography contests are really silly if you ask me.
And maybe this sound like a bought commercial, but it is not. When I found your SLR Lounge Preset System, my workflow in post-production became 10 times faster. And that kicks ass big time, if you ask me.
Talk a little about your favorite project.
That would be the J Bar L Ranch in the Centennial Valley, Montana, USA. I was there in 2012 and 2014 and took photos for their guest program at the ranch. They have very beautiful and remote vacation houses and offer riding, fishing, mountain biking, hiking or just enjoying the fantastic view of nature (the valley is next to Yellowstone). I was there to produce their marketing photos and videos for their guest program, for their vacations homes, and for the holistic cattle ranch which is their big business. The Centennial Valley stretches out just beyond the western border of Yellowstone National Park and contains critical migration routes for wildlife throughout the Northern Rockies. It supports bison, black bears, grizzlies, wolves, elk, deer and the other magnificent wildlife that draws millions of visitors to Yellowstone. It is also the most beautiful place I have visited and the only place I have been to (except for my home in Sweden), that actually feels like home.
Tell us a bit about your post processing workflow.
Usually, I just follow the idea of how the Preset System works. When I import, if all the photos are similar (like landscape photos), then I directly choose the Vivid Color. I do a quick culling and remove the ones I am sure I do not want. After that, I wait for a day or two and redo the culling; this time, I choose the ones I see that are the best. Then I do it a third and final time, I try to see if there are any important things that are missing out of the story. I add those photos as well if the favorite ones are not enough.
Then I go in and do the final editing and spend maybe 1 minute per image. It is very rare that I leave Lightroom and go into Photoshop.
What gear do you use for your photography?
- 3 x Canon 5D Mark III
- Canon 24-70mm 2.8 II
- Canon 70-200mm 2.8 II
- Tamron 150-600mm
- All the Canon prime lenses
- Aquatech Underwater Housing
- 2 x DJI Phantom 3 Professional
- 3 x GoPro 4 Black Edition
- 3 x MeFOTO Globetrotter carbon fiber tripod
- Rhino Slider (for video)
- 2 x Profoto B1 with Air Remote for wireless triggering
- 8 x Canon Speedlite with PocketWizard for wireless triggering
- Adobe Lightroom with SLR Lounge Presets
What one piece of gear can you live without for your work?
My knee pad that I found in an old stable in Montana. It looks like it is handmade and is like 70 years old, but it fits perfectly and saves my pants. Since I usually shoot without a tripod, even with a lens up to 600mm (and I rarely have space for a tripod), going down on one knee and putting your elbow on the other knee, you will have yourself an improvised tripod.
Anything else you would like to share?
Try to find your thing, repeat it till you are the best, and you will be able to make a living out of it. Do not do as I did, which was shoot too many different things because it takes so much time to build your personal brand when you do too many things. Oh, and find yourself a photo muse, (i.e. a person that you can have as model in all your crazy photo shoots that you do just for fun or to become a better photographer).