You might not recognise Johannes Krogh. Most of the evenings he spent at Jaeger, his face was obscured by a camera lens. He has been our photographer in residence for the last six months and from SPF.DJ to Nastia, he’s been there to capture the moments leaving physical documents of fleeting and hazy memories for us to pour over for future times.
There’s an obvious voyeurism associated with photography; a mechanical eye winking at you from somewhere in the dark. In club culture it is often met with protest, considering the nature of the scene. Yet, photography in clubs has been there since the dawn of the counterculture with images telling a story of a time, a place and a scene that words simply can’t reflect. Celluloid memories, often frozen in black and white are some of the only insights we have to forgotten scenes today.
It’s that documentary approach that feeds Jaeger’s desire to have a photographer present on some nights. Only some nights however, because other nights are better left as mere memory, special only to the people that were there and experienced the event in person. For those nights we wanted to document, it was Johannes Krogh behind the lens.
As his tenure at Jaeger ends and we bid him farewell on a sabbatical in Brussels, we sit down with the young photographer, DJ and aspiring architect to look through some of his favourite pictures from that time, and find out a little more about the method behind the lens.
Do you remember your first camera?
Yes, definitely. I received it as a present for my confirmation. It’s one of those traditional gifts, I feel. It was a good gift. I didn’t really have any photography interests before that.
Do you remember the brand and model?
Pentax single lens reflex digital camera. It was nice and small. It was a decent camera. It was entry level and it felt kind of professional. You could swap out lenses and buy better stuff. It was a good beginner camera.
Did you garner an affinity for it quite quickly?
Yes, in terms of how it works. How light travels and what you can get with different lenses; documenting stuff and getting good pictures.
What were you documenting at that stage?
Typical vacation stuff. I took a lot of pictures of my dog. To be honest, I have never felt comfortable taking pictures of people. It feels quite personal.
I started studying after high-school and then I did a lot of portrait photography. It always felt very intimate. If I’m taking pictures of people now, I’d prefer that they don’t know it, but that feels almost a bit creepy in a way. I’ve never wanted to approach people and ask to take their picture, I prefer a more fly on the wall approach.
What did you study?
Media with an emphasis on graphic design. I was really drawn to the technical aspects of photography. I know some photographers that just see it as a tool, but I’m really fascinated in how a camera works. I got a really good sense of the technical aspects of photography, which I think is as exciting in a way.
This one was was at spfdj in the basement. It was just so very techno
You’ve DJ’d as well and you’ve had some experience with photographing bands. Do you think that interest in music has an effect on what and how you photograph?
Yes, I think so. I like photography, but I’ll always use it to get into other hobbies as well. Doing the bands at festivals, it’s not because I’m really into photographing bands. It’s because I wanted to go to concerts. It’s a fun way of doing multiple hobbies at once. I’m into the music, the vibe, the people.
I’ve noticed that most of the pictures we’ve gotten from you managed to capture that vibe.
Yes, I like to partake and not just observe. I try to document it from the inside.
What are your experiences of people in the club when they have a camera trained on them?
You get a really good sense early on of who doesn’t want to be photographed and who gravitates to the camera. It’s never been an issue. Most people that have had an issue with it, it’s been more about the principle; “like should you photograph on a Techno night?” I’ll avoid photographing those people.
I guess, Jaeger being small, you’ll recognise the people and are able respect their wishes.
Yes. Usually the first hour or so, I’ll just go around and I don’t expect to get much. It’s just about getting comfortable and getting the people comfortable with me being around.
We’ve only had one request to have a picture removed.
Yes, I remember the picture, and she actually asked me to take her picture. (laughs) Some people might come up to me, and ask me not to take their picture before I even start, and that’s fine. It’s more important to show a vibe anyway than it is to show a face.
What nights have been best for capturing that vibe?
It’s been different between upstairs and downstairs. I feel I have had some really great shots, on both the dark, heavy nights and really light fun nights.
Do the new lights in the basement help?
Yes, definitely. There’s also the fact that for every thirty pictures I take in the basement, there’s one good one. You have to almost be lucky, because the flashes are so quick. You have to either time it perfectly or have a long shutter, but then it gets blurry, but that can also be the vibe. You can see people moving. It’s really hard when you freeze people, to show the movement. Especially when you use a flash, it gets very static and frozen.
I like because it shows the variety in the Jæger type. All kinds of people united on the dancefloor.
Do you have any nights that stand out in your memory?
When it’s packed it’s obviously a good vibe, but it can be really hard to capture, because it’s almost impossible to move and get a good perspective. Sometimes it’s about having a group of people that are really comfortable and dancing, but maybe not too packed.
Some of the Techno nights have been good, because people can often be introverted and shy, so people give each other enough space.
As a fan of the music, do you ever get the chance to enjoy the night?
Yes, maybe an hour in the beginning, then I would do some intense photography and get all the angles. If I feel I have enough good material, I can just enjoy the rest of the night. I really liked the first night when SPF.DJ played. Maybe it was a personal experience, and I feel that I got really into the crowd, because they were all kind of skeptical in the beginning.
People came up to me and asked if it was morally ok to be taking pictures on that particular night. Later, those very same people were asking me to have their picture taken.
I guess their moral fortitude dwindles as a night progresses?
Yeah, I guess so. (laughs)