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Photographer Jos Kottmann has spent six years photographing the world’s best DJs for his ‘You’re My Inspiration’ project. See the images and hear the story behind them.
Like all the best careers, Jos Kottmann’s kicked off because he was more interested in weekend hedonism than keeping up with his school work. After partying non-stop through his school years, Jos moved to Amsterdam at 18 and took up a photography course. Soon enough he was combining his twin passions of dance music and photography. “Joe Claussell was playing in Amsterdam so I went to see him and made a deal with his manager that I would shoot some portraits,” says Jos. “After that I knew I wanted to shoot DJs.” Jos’ stark portraits of DJs shy away from the usual glamorisation of the job. “For most people DJs’ lives look like a dream, but the reality can be a lot harder,” says Jos. Since starting his project in 2007, Jos has shot some of the world’s biggest DJs including Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox and Sven Väth. We asked him to take us through some of his favourite shots.
“Manoo is a DJ from Lyon. He’s not as big as some of the others but he’s been doing it for a really long time. I took this in my studio and I like it because he looks angry, but if you look at his eyes and mouth, he’s still smiling a little bit.”
2. Richie Hawtin
“In this picture Richie looks into you and he kind of looks a little sad and intense. The music Richie plays is quite hard and cold in some ways, but here he’s a little warmer and touchable.”
3. Kenny Dope
“I shot this in Paris. Kenny had had some heart problems; he’d been in intensive care a while before this, and had lost 20 kilos. It’s not really the tough hip hop guy everyone knows in this picture. I think you can see into his soul.”
“Karizma’s a brilliant DJ and was the second DJ I ever photographed. He had been playing for years and years, but this is one of the first pictures he used officially for his press.”
5. Louie Vega
“Louie Vega is one of my heroes. When I arranged to shoot him in Brussels he was really late so I was worried it wouldn’t happen. I was so nervous about this shot but it turned out great and opened a lot of doors for me.”
6. Dave Clarke
“I took this photo at last year’s ADE. It’s really cool with all the black and his face hidden behind his coat. Dave Clarke’s one of the biggest techno DJs ever, and I’m really glad to have taken his picture.”
7. Theo Parrish
“I tired to shoot Theo four times before we actually did it. He was always too stoned, or wanted to do it another time. He’s a strange guy, and you really see that in this picture. I love his eyes.”
“Oslunlade is one of my favourite DJs and was one of the first who agreed to be photographed by me. His personality is so strong. When you look at this picture, with his strange earrings and hair, his personality shines through, which I really love."