Joerg Nicht: A Berlin Street Photographer's Journey and iconic Car Pics

Conversation with Joerg Nicht. Based in Berlin and working globally, Joerg is one of Germany’s best known and most followed photographers on Instagram. With him we speak about how the social network influenced his career and the places of Berlin that inspire him.




1 Mar 2024

If someone can afford a two-letter Instagram handle, they were either one of the first users of the platform or are an institution - in @jn's case, both are true. We meet Joerg in his beautiful light-flooded apartment in Berlin and talk about how the platform influenced his work and how he made the leap into a successful freelancing career.

Joerg, you actually were one of the people who defined the aesthetic of the early Instagram days. What role did the platform play in your career?

"Indeed, Instagram was a game-changer for me. I received my first camera when I was twelve and began capturing everything around me, particularly my black cat. I was fascinated by the different perspectives a camera could offer. Despite this early love for photography, I first pursued a different path in academia, studying Educational and Social Sciences. But then smartphones came. I was captivated by the iPhone's capabilities and began sharing my photos with friends, which led me to Instagram. The platform became a space where I could not only share my work but also receive immediate feedback. This interaction encouraged me to delve deeper into photography, experimenting and refining my style. The daily discipline of posting and engaging with a global community turned my side activity into a professional pursuit. It's fascinating how a platform can elevate a passion to a profession."

When to say No to a client

What guides your decision-making process when accepting or declining client requests?

"My approach to selecting projects is rooted in my personal ethics. I decline offers that conflict with my values, such as promotions for arms or tobacco. I also consider the human rights situations in travel destinations. Photography is a powerful medium, and I believe it's crucial to maintain integrity, ensuring that my work aligns with my principles and portrays subjects respectfully."

What really makes the difference in the career of a photographer, talent or practice?

"I believe photography is primarily about practice and less about innate talent. While talent plays a role, success in photography largely comes from learning the craft, understanding your equipment, and continuously experimenting. My experience has taught me that the more you practice, the more you develop your unique style. There are countless technical aspects to master, and each type of photography, be it street scenes or portraits, has its own set of challenges."

Berlin as a Muse

Berlin is a recurrent theme in your work. What is it about the city that inspires you, and are there specific places that fuel your creativity?

"Berlin is endlessly inspiring; its history, people, and architecture provide a rich tapestry for any photographer. I find inspiration in its ever-changing landscape, from the classical beauty of Museum Island to the vibrant streets of Prenzlauer Berg. Different weather and lighting conditions can transform the same scene into something entirely new. It's this dynamic environment that keeps me motivated and constantly exploring. Personal haunts like the area around the Landwehrkanal in Kreuzberg become magical when the canals freeze over, turning familiar places into new stages for life's dramas."

Early in my career, I underestimated the value of connecting with other photographers and creatives.

Creative Entrepreneurship

Reflecting on your career, how did you approach creative entrepreneurship?

"Looking back, one significant lesson has been the importance of networking. Early in my career, I underestimated the value of connecting with other photographers and creatives. Sharing experiences and challenges has not only opened doors but also helped me grow. Balancing the artistic and entrepreneurial aspects is a continuous learning curve. The challenge lies in maintaining your creative spirit while managing the practicalities of a photography business in a rapidly evolving industry."

As a photographer, you're not just an artist capturing moments; you're also a business owner navigating market demands and technological changes.

A Sunday Car Pic Project

Since more than 10 years, Joerg posts photos of beautiful vintage cars.

"As a photographer, I'm interested in cars. They are icons of mobility and part of our culture. At the beginning of 2012, on a Sunday, I posted my first car on Instagram: a Fiat Cinquecento from the Sixties. After three weeks I named it „The Sunday Car Pic“. Because on Sunday you have time to comfortably drive around with your car. In Germany slow drivers are called „Sonntagsfahrer“ (Sunday drivers): They obstruct the traffic. Even the beautiful car is – in the rush hour – an obstacle. One day I started to hashtag vintage cars that other Instagrammers posted with #asundaycarpic. Others followed the precedent and by now you can find more than 200,000 pictures using this hashtag."

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