Michael Kügler gets Jack’d

Book covers should be looked at as a piece of art. When I was looking to cover my up-coming novel, Klockwerk Kabaret, I knew I needed to find the perfect image to represent Olivia Nightingale. I found her, thanks to Pinterest and Michael Kügler. Ladies and gents of the Jackverse, I want to introduce to you the man behind the camera. Le’ts Get Jack’d!

JW: Why do you think Steampunk is becoming such a popular trend in fashion and photography? And what drew you to the subject?

MK: I have to admit that I am not very familiar with the steampunk culture but I absolutely love the visuals as they provide interesting subjects by combining well known elements to a new overall picture. Contacts with steampunk-elements often went by without me putting it in that particular context, but as I just read in wikipedia I’ve had exposure by some films and animes (that I liked by the way).

In case of Maria’s and her friend’s costumes I was just blown away by the detail and overall fitting concept. One could see the time and thought that went in and I just wanted to keep taking pictures.

JW: What challenges do you face during photo shoots like the ones you did with Maria?

MK: I mostly struggle with lighting and backdrops. Forms and lines come sort of naturally to me but I often tend to ignore too hard contrasts and have to take a shot again or move the entire scene to a better lit place. And sometimes the location restricts the possibilities. We often meet at conventions and there are lots of people wandering around so you have to time the photo between the last one leaving the background and another one entering or even deviate from the optimal angle so that no one else is in the picture. And then there is time. There are a lot of people to meet over a short weekend at a convention so the time to shoot everyone is not as long as I’d like it to be. And you can’t shoot everyone with the best light shortly before sundown.

JW: As an indie artist, what are the biggest challenges facing you that other artists might not have to face?

MK: My biggest challenge is time. Photography is not the only hobby I love, and there is always a struggle to find an equilibrium. So I tend to get behind in post-processing but I can’t bear to deliver bad work and then I feel guilty for making the great people that model for me wait for their photos.

JW: How did you find Maria and who’s idea was the “Lady of Time?”

MK: The credit for this absolutely amazing character goes completely to Maria.

I often walk with a photographer friend of mine around anime-conventions to look for cosplayers with interesting costumes. We were delighted to chance upon Maria and her friends there about a year ago. The chemistry was just perfect, we had a lot of fun and so we met again at various other conventions to take more photos.

JW: What inspires you most in your art?

MK: I like vibrant contrasting colors, interesting lines and angles and a beautiful smile can always win me over. I often go with my guts and improvise depending on the setting around me but I’d really like to attempt a completely planned shooting. Everything I haven’t done yet in photography is interesting and I want to try it. At the moment I’m slowly starting at macro-photography and black/white but I’d also like to try playing with flashes or impacts of liquids or powders. Also I never did an artistic nude or fashion shooting or a real still life. There are yet a lot of things to try out so I guess one could say pushing the boundaries is my driving force.

JW: If you could photograph one, and only one, person on the planet, who would that be?

MK: Then I have to go with my mother. She’s the only direct relative I have left and I wouldn’t want to be without a photo of her.

JW: What equipment and software do you use?

MK: When I switched from just pressing the shutter to thinking about composition and so on, around 8 years ago, Canon had the most features that interested me, so I bought my first digital SLR from Canon. Not being disappointed I upgraded from time to time and nowadays use a 5D Mark III. I also like slightly or stronger distorted photos so I use Canon L-series lenses from 8 to 400 mm. Photographing people gets a bit tricky with a fish-eye but the effects are mostly nice.

I grew up with Adobe Photoshop starting with version 3.05 that I bought together with a flatbed scanner and have used it since. This days I use Elements or Photoshop depending on the computer I use.

JW: When you were approached to use Maria’s photo for the novel Klockwerk Kabaret, what was the driving force behind allowing it to be used?

MK: There are two main factors. I love art in not all but most of its forms and am still regularly awestruck when I see a great peace. So being able to create something of my own and maybe give other people the same joy I have when looking at other amazing artwork is a very fulfilling thought. This world is rotten enough and we are in dire need of more beauty around us.

And secondly there is recognition and exposure. Some people might come by to see my work after reading this interview. 🙂

Check out more of Michael’s work at his Deviant Art site and his personal site.