„Simply go and play“.
We talk with Basti about his journey as a photographer so far, his experiences and inspiration for the five exclusive pre-sets he created for the G-Class Private Lounge.
For the G-Class Private Lounge, the photographer and filmmaker Basti Hansen has created five exclusive pre-sets to help you make the most out of your car shots. We talk with Basti about his life path and drive and asked him to share some tips for aspiring photographers.
Basti, you are originally from Cologne and have already travelled all around the globe. You currently live in Tel Aviv – how did that come about?
My fiancé was born in Israel. After tons of trips to different countries during my studies, I moved to Israel for a year immediately after I got my undergraduate degree. I took that first year in Tel Aviv as a challenge and an experiment to try to solely live off my camera there. That turned into a second year, a third, and a fourth.
I simply fell in love with the city and the way life feels here. So much so, that now, eight years later, Tel Aviv is my main home base, where I live together with my fiancé and our baby daughter.
Have you always dreamed of becoming a photographer? Or is there a particular experience that inspired this career path?
In my teenage years and early 20s, all I wanted to do was to write music. That time was all about the dream of writing songs, putting out records, and playing shows, non-stop.
When I was about 25, it slightly shifted towards filmmaking and photography. I remember being mesmerized by the aesthetics of Peter Lindbergh’s portrait and fashion photography in the 1990s, the look of American Pepsi commercials, and coming-of-age films at the time.
I imagined this romantic idea of living as a traveling photographer and filmmaker who gets to see the world and puts down his memories in photographs and films. I thought: If I could do anything in the world – this would be one of the things I would go for.
So, when I moved to Israel with not much to lose, I made use of that momentum to switch from music to photography and filmmaking.
What is the most fascinating thing about the G-Class for you?
I tend to like things that are rugged and that I can rely on, no matter what. That goes for my equipment as much as for other items in my life, like backpacks, boots, watches, or tents. The G-Class is the epitome of that idea – by design. I really enjoy and love the way it feels, all on top of its sheer performance power. I’ve seen this car handling extreme situations time after time without a hiccup. For me, that’s the most compelling thing about this car – it’s sturdiness and reliability.
What was your first project in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz – and is there a personal favorite among these collaborations, perhaps even in connection with the G-Class?
Well, my first project was when I was invited to join the Mercedes-Benz “Urban Discovery” road trip through Europe. That was in 2016. Since then, I’ve shot around 40 projects for Mercedes-Benz until today. One favourite of mine was a 10,000 kilometres road trip through the United States’ former Wild West with a GLE that took four amazing weeks.
My favourite G-Class shoot was for sure the one on Austria’s Schöckl mountain where every new G-Class is being tested. Sitting on the backseat and seeing professional drivers push the G-Class to its absolute limit, you get to really understand what this vehicle is capable of.
How did you come up with the idea of pre-sets and especially these five themes?
I designed my five editing pre-sets to reflect the common, natural habitat of the G-Class and outdoor photographers: So, Metropolis is for urban sceneries, Dust for off-road action, Graphite for mountain shots, Ice Lagoon for snowy landscapes, and In the Dark for night shots.
I wanted them to be flexible, to be easily adaptable to wherever you might end up with the G-Class. Plus, the pre-sets should be usable by everyone and not only for my own style of photography. This is why we also mixed in a couple of shots that are taken by my friend and fellow photographer Christopher Busch. So, no matter if you're a professional or a beginner or hobby photographer – these pre-sets should give you a good starting point for your own G-Class edits, and with a couple of tweaks, they should get you to solid results pretty fast. I use them all the time now.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers that you would like to share with us, especially in relation to car photography?
When I started shooting automotive stories for Mercedes-Benz, I felt I had to overthink every shot and every angle. I thought about the legacy of photographers that shot these cars before me. I was looking for rules and established ways to shoot cars. However, over time I learned that it’s important to experiment and listen to your gut.