Jan Mielke is a fashion photographer from Berlin, Germany.
- Hi Jan, tell me who you are and what do you do as a freelancer?
Hi, my name is Jan Mielke and I work as a freelance fashion photographer in Berlin.
- How long have you been working as a freelancer now?
After finishing school, I did an internship in an advertising photostudio in my hometown Nuremberg. Later I moved to Berlin and worked as a freelance photoassistant for several photographers, mainly in Hamburg and Berlin. 2005 I started working as a fashion photographer. So I’ve actually always been a freelancer, and thats 17 years now.
- Why did you decide to become a freelancer? Did you think about it for a long time or did your decision come suddenly?
For a fashion photographer it is rather rare to work somewhere as a permanent employee. So, it was very clear for me from the moment that I decided to do this job, that I’m going to be a freelancer. In the last 5 years, with the growing e-commerce industry, there are more and more employed fashion photographers in big e-commerce studios, but basically it is still a typical field for freelancers.
- What is your competitive advantage, which makes your clients hire you?
Thats hard to say, as I usually don’t know too much about my clients experiences with other photographers before they started working with me. I think I’m quite good with organizing, planing and time-management. And although I like to plan stuff very exact before the shoot, I usually stay very calm, if something unexpected happens. Also I heard, that a lot of my clients like that, if I do commercial productions, I see myself more as a service provider and less as an artist.
- Who are your typical clients?
I work for fashion brands, designers, e-commerce clients and magazines. I shoot editorials, lookbooks, catalogs, campaigns and product-pictures.
- How has your business changed over time?
When I started working in photography, even classic product-pictures were shot analogue. Digital cameras were super new and extremely expensive. This changed very fast, and today it sometimes sounds like 100 years ago, when we talk about polaroids, darkrooms or shooting large format on view cameras. So I think the digital revolution was one of the biggest changes in photography and of course, it changed the business a lot. It made photography so much easier and also professional photography not that much “exclusive”, as you don’t need all these very expensive equipment any more.
The second “revolution” for commercial fashion photography was the upcoming of e-commerce and the dying of the big print catalogs. This again changed the market a lot. Onlineshops are way faster than catalogs, and this includes the image-production. And, of course, most budgets for online productions differ from the budgets for a printed catalog.
- John Wanamaker said: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I do not know which half. Do you gain your clients by advertising or in another way?
I think most of my clients find me via internet, or they just see my work for other clients. So I try to keep my website updated, and post my newest work on my blog. But thats actually all I do for advertising. I have a profile on linkedin and on xing, but I don’t use facebook, instagram or twitter. So I guess I’m a bit “oldschool” when it comes to social media advertising.
- Do you hire outsourcing service providers for services, which you believe are a waste of your time?
I don’t see any of my work as a “waste of time”. Or if, I would not recommend anyone to do this kind of work. But I sometimes outsource the retouching, when it comes to huge numbers of product-shots and clipping.
- How does your typical working day look like? What do you do when you are not working?
One of the things I really love about my job is that there is no such thing as a typical working day. Every job and every client is different, you work with different teams and in different places all the time.
If I’m not working I like to spend time with my friends and family, go out running, see movies or just stay at home and read a good book.
- Which books would you recommend to freelancers?
I never read any guidebooks for freelancers, so I have no recommendation for books on that topic.
- The place where you find your peace?
What really works good for me, for clearing my mind, is running in the wood or hiking. Jogging is for me the best way to relieve stress, and often I have the best ideas when I’m running outside.
- Top 3 mobile apps on your smartphone?
WhatsApp, SPIEGEL ONLINE, SoundCloud
- Your last vacation?
In May I did a hiking-tour through the Scottish Highlands, just me and my tent. I hiked the West Highland Way from Glasgow to Fort William and the Great Glen Way up to Inverness. Despite the typical Scottish weather, I had a really great time, enjoying this amazing landscapes.