Professional photographer and digital artist Lasse Behnke, knows how to impress us with his almost unbelievable skills. Passionate about self-improvement, he willingly shares knowledge on how to put magic into ordinary scenes of everyday life. A master of photo editing, he crosses the line of what’s real and creates fantasies that we can easily lose ourselves in.
We recently caught up with Lasse to create a video tutorial, so continue reading and find it at the bottom of this article.
How did you become an artist?
I believe it was in 2005 when I started to play around with photo editing software. At that time I was only combining several filters to create interesting images, at least in my eyes. After graduating from school in 2006 I wanted to become a media designer and I applied for some apprenticeship positions. All my applications were rejected that year, so I spontaneously decided to study geography, just because it was easy to get into the courses and I had no other ideas. After some months of boring studies, I decided to follow my dreams again and applied for media design positions for the second time. That year I got three acceptances, quit my studies and started my training in a small advertising agency near my hometown.
During my training, one part of my job was to search for stock images for client projects. That is how I got to know all the stock photo platforms. As I was still doing a lot of photo editing in my spare time, I decided to give it a try and uploaded some of my works to several platforms. Most of them got rejected. Just one agency accepted a few of my images: Fotolia, which is Adobe Stock today. After a few days I already sold the first licenses. Of course, it was pretty motivating that somebody was willing to pay for my art and I continued to work on my artworks after hours and uploaded all of them to the platform. The number of sales and my income went straight up the next months, and after finishing my media design training in early 2011, I was able to go into self employment. It was almost unreal to be able to do what I love most full time from now on. In the next years I almost only lived on my stock photography sales and my portfolio grew from day to day. I specialized in composite imagery in that time span. Today I can look back at over 600k sales and one of the most successful careers in the stock photography sector. Since 2016 I have been more active on social media and, with rising public attention, I had the opportunity to host workshops, record tutorials and work directly with several big brands like Adobe and LinkedIn for example. I also had the honor to speak at international events like Photokina and the Adobe MAX repeatedly. During the last few years I became more of a commissioned photographer and editor and stock photography is something that I do on the side.
Where do you live and what does your studio look like?
I live in Bremen, which is one of the rather big cities in the northern part of Germany. My studio is not really spectacular. It is around 30 square meters and, as it has always been my wish to work from my home, it is a room in my flat. It is enough to set up some flashes and photograph people or products properly. My desk is also in my studio.
Does the place where you live influence your art?
When I started with photography and editing, most of the images I used came from my hometown area, because when you sell stock images, you have to produce every image or image part yourself or own the rights at least. So, at that time it had a big influence, and I made a lot of Bremen-themed images with all the sights that we have. The images were quite successful regarding the sales but I always had other artworks in mind. After a few years, when my income was big enough to travel more, I was able to shoot rather exotic places and realize more of the images and style that I pursued. But only since I learned more about 3D modeling and rendering a few years ago I am capable of realizing almost everything that I can imagine or what customers request.
What are your biggest inspirations?
I get my inspirations mostly from other artists. I save a lot of things that I see during the day. Either on social media or in my everyday life, when I walk through the city and photograph interesting advertisements for example. And when I am in need of inspiration I scroll through these images and it often helps. As I was a full time stock photographer for many years, I also look a lot into the stock market. In terms of creative photo concepts this is really inspirational, too. I also love Behance and Artstation to just admire what other artists create. This is really helpful to set your goals regarding the style and techniques you want to learn. There is a saying that goes „You are what you eat“ and regarding creativity I really try to consume a lot of the art I personally like. This inevitably leaves its traces in my style.
If you could pick one place to spend much of your time creating, what would it be?
Actually, I am pretty happy with the place where I create my art, which is my flat. Of course, I love to travel and I have a lot of places on my bucket list, which are rather nordic (Iceland, Norway e.g.), but I do not really dream of working abroad for a longer time. If I had to choose, it would definitely be something close to nature and not a big city though.
Which artist would you like to meet for coffee? Do you have any artistic idols?
I had a lot of idols, especially when I started my photography and editing journey. Most of them were german photoshop artists. In terms of style and concepts I loved the work of Uli Staiger the most and I am still a big fan of his artworks but I always make sure that I follow and consume the work of many artists to not evolve into a copy of someone.
The cool thing is, during the last years when my work became more known in Germany, I got to know most of my past idols at events and fairs and I am still in contact with some of them.
Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?
Nothing really special I am afraid. My biggest hobby, apart from image editing, is basketball. I played around three times a week in a local team for many years but had to cancel to play regularly because of an ankle injury some time ago. Since then I can only go to the court sporadically but I still consume a lot of basketball and NBA-related things. Apart from that, I spent most of the time with my wife and our dog. I evolved into a big dog fan within the last few years and I can imagine adopting one or two more in the future, assuming I have enough time and space. I love to live and work with them.
What are your artistic plans for the future?
My wish is just to be able to continuously make a living with my art and to keep the love for my job.
Do you have any tips for beginner artists?
Work on your skills everyday. Nothing can replace long-term experience. There was a time during my stock photography career when I created two composite images a day for years. The skills that I acquired during that timespan are the base of everything that allows me to live on my art today. If anybody could learn all that stuff within days it wouldn’t be anything special. Embrace the time it takes to learn something extraordinary.