‘Hallo Aslı’ is an Ode to Young Love

Photos by Josh Kern 

A year ago, Josh Kern jotted down in his notes that a male photographer taking pictures of a woman for the purposes of a book is, ‘the most boring topic in the world’.

And yet, it’s all that’s been occupying his mind recently. Not just any woman, though—his confidante, muse, girlfriend, and fellow photographer Aslı, who he photographs with such frequency, you’d be fooled into thinking that film stock has suddenly plummeted in price. A talented photographer who we first came across through his eye-catching entry into a past Monster Children Photo Competition, Josh’s approach to photography feels like an intimate journal, pieced together with scrapbook-like techniques that stem from his love of getting hands-on with the photos he prints; staining, bleaching, drawing, and collaging. Josh’s dedication to capturing his muse on film has resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs that will become a 154-page homage to young love, Hallo Aslıif he reaches his target on Kickstarter. We threw a couple questions over to Germany and here’s what came back.

I suppose a good first question would be, what does Aslı think of you taking her photograph all the time?
Aslı is a photographer herself and takes pictures of me as well. Lately, not as much as I do, but still, photographing each other was part of our relationship from the beginning. We are always in exchange about our projects and talk a lot about what to share and what not to. That’s why we are very free to photograph each other in pretty much every situation. If a photograph doesn’t feel right for one person, we just don’t share it and keep it for ourselves. But I think it’s still a bit weird for Aslı that I’m making a whole book about her (laughs). But she is also happy for me.

How did you two meet?
Aslı once texted me on Instagram—of course—and asked what I thought about her application for the university in Essen because she wanted to study photography there. At the time, I was studying photography in Dortmund which was a 20-minute train ride from Essen. I always went to Essen because they had a better film processing machine than my university and Aslı always opened the door for me and let me in. But it took another year or so until we ended up in a relationship.

What’s one photo you think captures her personality perfectly, and why?

Ah, that’s impossible to decide because Aslı is not just one personality for me, but more like 200. That’s probably also why I worked a lot with clusters and just a big amount of pictures. It’s just not possible for me to define her.

What are some techniques that you experiment with to give such unique results with your photos?
I soaked the prints in dierent liquids like coee, mud or bleach. I also played a lot with paint before or after I soaked them. Sometimes I get really sick of looking at a screen and I feel an urge to separate my work from the digital world we live in. It just makes me happy to work with my hands sometimes.

Aside from being the subject of many of your photos, in what ways does Aslı inspire your work?
Without her, I wouldn’t really know if I’m on the right track. I always ask her about pretty much everything I do with my work. And it’s not so much about what she would do, but more if she thinks that this is the right choice for me. She simply gives me the confidence to do what I really want to do and the motivation to keep going.

If you’ve got some coin to spare, send it Josh’s way here so he can make Hallo Asli a reality.

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