Imagine if your bureau drawer was full of pics you had taken with the sort of dangerous kind of celebrity who exists out on the sexy edge of fame. Pretend that the same backstory was behind every one of these pics: You and this well-known party person had been out on the town searching for a photo booth that the two of you could sit together and pose in.
A quarter hour passes in this frantic search, then another 10 minutes of enhanced anticipation. Finally, compelled by urgent necessity to commemorate the moment, you blurt out, “Fuck it, mate. Hold still a sec, and let me snap a shot of you just as you are at this never-before and never-again very magic moment!”
Congratulations, my friend, you have just created, in your head, an approximation of the work of London-based photographer Flo Kohl.
Now that all that fancy imagining is done, take a break from the heavy lifting and settle into Flo Kohl’s real world.
The Skeeve: What is it about people that makes them so interesting to photograph?
Flo Kohl: Unpredictability. I love not exactly knowing which version of a person I’ll get when I take the photo. But I’m also a voyeur, and this gives me free reign to stare at people. Oh and boobs. I love boobs.
The Skeeve: What are the keys to capturing charisma?
Flo Kohl: I’m usually very calm, which puts people at ease. The more comfortable a person is, the better the pic—though every once in a while it’s necessary to go the opposite way and make people noticeably uneasy. The whole process is a conversation.
The Skeeve: Why photography?
Flo Kohl: I’m a collector. Shooting photos, especially of people, is kind of like creating an archive or a checklist of what I’ve seen and experienced.
Also, I still love waking up every morning and being able to take pics, and never found anything else I’m good at (at least nothing legal).
The Skeeve: Are you based in London by choice or by default?
Flo Kohl: Is anyone in London by choice? London chose me. Every time I feel like I’m fed up with the weather and pace and harshness of the city, something amazing happens that keeps me here. It’s a city full of opportunities. That makes it all worthwhile. Plus, I love being able to get up in the morning and go to Paris for a cheese and pastry run.
The Skeeve: Please describe what’s different in how you approach commissioned work, personal work, and shooting just for fun.
Flo Kohl: First off, I try to make every shoot a fun one, but there is a difference between commissioned and personal work. I often approach my personal projects with a core idea, but without a set plan, so I can see where it all goes. That can be impossible for commissioned work. The others involved have certain expectations. I am incredibly lucky though to have worked with people who both give me a lot of creative control, and hire me for a specific look that’s almost like muscle memory at this point.
All photos copyright Flo Kohl.