The Style Spotlight: Jan Vincent Kleine

by Lex van den Berghe

posted on 05-16-2017

Style Spotlight is a new series dedicated to shedding some light on photographers who work tirelessly to put their own unique stamp on their images and make their work stand out. Work that makes us stop and reconsider the way we think about a genre. In this installment, we turn our gaze to the great outdoors to examine the work of one man who’s made a name for himself creating work that’s distinctly his own.

When looking at outdoor photography, rarely do you see people and nature juxtaposed together so strikingly as through the lens of Jan Vincent Kleine. The German-based sports and outdoor photographer spoke with us about what makes his style so uniquely his own: his background, inspiration, and process.

Jan Vincent Kleine, preferring to go by Vincent, knew photography would be part of his future since the age of 17. Originally setting out to be a war photographer, Vincent assisted commercial photographers to learn what he could onsite. By the time he finished his university studies, he knew his true calling and began his career as a full-time freelance photographer with a taste for the outdoors.

Finding Your Style

When asked who/what he draws his inspiration from to create pieces in his signature style, Vincent emphasizes how important it is to search anywhere but your field of interest. While it’s helpful to analyze the work of others in your field to broaden the understanding of technical elements (like composition and retouching) he believes better work comes from places outside the established standards of your genre.

For Vincent, the world of portrait photography, especially the works of Peter Lindbergh and Navad Kander, is a great source of inspiration. He also expressed a great deal of interest in fashion photographers who explore the conceptual side of the genre. “After all, inspiration is best when it’s abstract,” he added.

Style in Focus

Once Vincent has found his inspiration, he begins planning out his shoot. According to Vincent, “When you press the shutter, you’re not just taking a photo but your mind has also collected a wealth of information and impressions leading up to the capture that hopefully shapes your own vision of the photo.” This mean everything from equipment to Lightroom workflow.

When asked about what equipment he uses to bring his vision to life, Vincent replied: “Light, both natural and artificial, is certainly key to achieving the mood I desire. Most of the photos in my portfolio are shot with available light, though I do like to bring a studio strobe outside to highlight certain areas of the image, if that serves our purpose. I’m not a big fan of using artificial light just for the purpose of using artificial light, but it can be a very powerful tool to create atmosphere and impact.”

Lightroom in Style

“Being able to bring this vision to life with tools like Lightroom and Photoshop can be a very rewarding process.” He continued, saying, “Nothing in the frame is artificial or composited. As such postproduction mostly concentrates on color grading and local adjustments to enhance the mood and create impact. I can thus get quite far with Lightroom without actually having to switch to Photoshop.”

To demonstrate, Vincent took us through a single edit, start to finish.

While Vincent’s no stranger to Photoshop, he chose to take us through the workflow of this particular photograph because it exemplifies the power of the sensory technology and raw conversion of Lightroom—bringing his vision to life with just one application.

For Vincent, getting the most out of low light photography is about finding the right balance in between sharpening and noise reduction. This picture, shot just after sunset, features two climbers as they ascend the cliff face by the light of their LED headlamps. And, with a few gradients and sliders, Vincent brings the true majesty of the blue hour out, softens the background, and makes the light from the climber’s headlamps pop against the blue.

For the Love of Photography

When asked what keeps him behind the camera lens, Vincent replied: “For me, photography is not just a means of expression. It’s also acting as a vehicle to actually see the world and get to know incredible people. A passion that helps me get very intimate with sceneries, cultures and single characters.”

Topics: Creative Inspiration & Trends

Products: Photoshop, Creative Cloud