Thomas Kakareko (@thomas_k) is one of the most successful German photographers on Instagram. In conversation with Loupedeck, he talks about his journey and his work with Loupedeck CT.
To be honest, it was almost by accident. I joined Instagram shortly after it launched at the end of 2010 and convinced a friend to sign up as well. At first, the content was pretty unspectacular, with lots of snapshots and cat pictures. The whole topic of sharing pictures or content, in general, was really not that that big of a topic back then.
Plan is definitely not the right word – the platform was still totally new back then, and the term “influencer” as we use it today didn’t even exist yet. I was unhappy with my studies at the time and was looking for a way to break out. That’s when Instagram appeared as a welcome and promising change.
Of course, as a career changer, I had a lot of catching up to do, not only in terms of practice, but also in theory. Once my passion was awakened, I threw myself into the subject and absorbed everything I could find. I read a lot, looked at old masters, and tried to sharpen my eye. The first two years were mainly characterized by wild trial and error until I found my style in street photography.
My first collaborations were an important step for me to feel legitimate as someone who just started doing this professionally. I started to perceive myself as a photographer, to admit that to myself. Sometimes I almost had to remind myself: you’re a photographer, you get paid for your work, might as well call yourself a photographer. But it was also the general appreciation for my work, my creative output, that meant a lot to me.
Well, it was definitely the biggest topic on Instagram back then and my first point of contact with photography, which then quickly developed into a passion. When I’m out and about with my camera, I observe a lot, feeling almost invisible. This allows me to capture real moments and genuine moods, which has an incomparable appeal for me.
Catching the right moment turns an every-day moment into something significant. Timing is essential because otherwise you quickly slip into the banal; one second can make all the difference. Once you’ve achieved that a few times, you’re quickly out there every day trying to replicate it.
Of course, classic street photography became more and more difficult the more reach I had. That’s when people would recognize themselves or their friends and link to them in the pictures. That’s great, of course, but also not the point.
I have my golden rule that I only publish images that are flattering to the subject. Still, of course not everyone agrees to their picture being shared publicly, especially with the reach of my channel. That’s why I’ve evolved my visual language in recent years, away from people and more towards urban landscapes.
From the beginning, my images were very emotionally charged. Now that people are not the focus anymore, I try to provoke emotions differently. To do this, I work a lot with light and mood, color combinations, complementary contrasts, but also exciting geometric elements like lines of houses. What emotions are triggered in the end in the viewer you can never know, but as long as something is touched on the inside, I have achieved my goal.
It’s a daily challenge and rather difficult at times. I’m very introverted, I much prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it. On the other hand, of course, I understand that for my followers it’s not just the final pictures that are exciting, but also what happens behind the scenes. If you want to be successful, you can’t avoid showing your face. Who is the photographer, what is the process like, how do they get the results, that’s what I want to show more of.
Sure, there were moments when I doubted, asked myself – what are you doing here, dropping out of college for a few pictures shot on mobile. But I didn’t let this insecurity show, and today I no longer struggle with it. I’ve been successful on Instagram for more than ten years now, I don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore, and that is quite relieving.
It’s definitely a demanding platform. You have to be active all the time, and if you don’t post for two or three days, it’s directly reflected in your reach. It’s not easy, especially with creative work. If you have a blockage, don’t like your own work, or just don’t feel like it – “taking a break” is unfortunately not really an option, you have to keep going.
Of course, even though I sometimes grumble, I’m still happy to have been able to make a living from it for so long. I’ve had a lot of support, met friends all over the world, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
The interview continues after the picture.
On an Instagram profile, the last dozen published posts are displayed at the same time, and that’s also my business card for potential customers. For the aesthetics, it is therefore important that the images have a certain consistency, that there is a common thread.
I achieve this mainly with the help of my personal presets, in which I invest a lot of time when creating them. Then I have them ready at hand on my Loupedeck CT, and often I know exactly which preset fits the image at first glance, and then all that’s left is to fine-tune it.
I’ve developed a certain rhythm because after a few months I get bored with the presets and start to create a new set. Generally, it stays in the dark spectrum, but I experiment with hues and temperature, evolving to keep it exciting. My followers always notice right away when I try new things.
My images feature a lot of black and gray and get tension and balance from light or strong complementary contrasts, so working with curves is the most important step for me. That’s where I get the most impact, giving images my individual style. I try out a lot until I like the result. In general, I definitely have a soft spot for dark tones and gloomy moods, that’s my personal aesthetic.
The Loupedeck CT helps me tremendously to get the most out of my images. I can make super-precise adjustments in the curves without having to take my eyes off the image. It makes me feel much closer to the image, and I can intuitively realize my vision.
If you’ve been editing images for many years as I have, you’re pretty stuck in your ways. So it was exciting to completely break down my process, tweak it, and reassemble it with the Loupedeck. It took a little getting used to, of course, but I can do every step that I used to need the mouse for better with the Loupedeck CT. I’m always surprised at how much more direct editing feels now.
I recommend the Loupedeck CT to all my colleagues who edit images professionally. Not only has it turned my workflow around and improved it, but it also brings me much closer to the image while I’m working.
Find and follow Thomas on Instagram: @thomas_k