Premiere: Spend "100 HOURS" In NYC With Photographer Stefan Kohli
If you only had 100 hours to spend in NYC, what would you choose to do?
Stefan Kohli, also known as @photokohli, is an up-and-coming photographer and creative who has made journeys across the country (and perhaps soon internationally) in order to create his brainchild project, 100 HOURS. As the name suggests, 100 HOURS is a quick and fast condensing of the unique vibes and incredible people of each city Kohli visits, which have included LA, Chicago, Boston, and now NYC.
Kohli, who just last year went on tour with Ariana Grande as a photographer, is ready to leave his footprint in the world of music and culture photography. With subjects like Post Malone, The Fat Jewish, and Adrian Grenier, “100 HOURS NYC” is an incredible photographic exploration into the unique flavor of NYC’s late-night scene.
Milk had the exciting opportunity to speak with Kohli before the exclusive premiere of “100 HOURS NYC” right here on Milk.xyz. Check out his photos above and then see how we picked Kohli’s brain—from shooting celebrities, potential future cities, and his photographic style, Kohli spills the tea.
Kohli’s interest in photography started young, while the rest of us were still running around the playground and pushing each other on the swings.
“In 6th grade, I took a class where we made pinhole cameras, and I remember it being the coolest thing,” he says. “Our teacher—whose name I frustratingly can’t remember—was really involved and passionate about teaching us, and though I remember little to nothing about the actual technicalities of what we learned, I can confidently say it was one of the best photography memories I’ve had,” said Kohli. “In 8th grade, I found my parents point and shoot at home and started taking pictures of flowers and whatever is in my background. But I didn’t really start “taking it seriously” until college.”
Despite the fact that many of his photos are of big artists and celebrities like Ariana Grande, Big Sean, or Aziz Ansari, Kohli’s photos still manage to maintain a really intimate and personal quality. But, when it comes to describing his style of photography, he prefers to keep things open-ended.
“I’ve never been sure how to answer what my style is, especially since I don’t think I’ve found it…and am not sure if I’ll ever? I don’t think that’s a bad thing though. I just take photos of things or ideas that catch my eye, and hopefully catch yours,” he says. “Having legitimate relationships with your subjects makes everything easier, though of course that’s not always possible, so you have to make do. Don’t force ideas but entertain the strange ones that feel like they shouldn’t/won’t make sense.”
While 100 HOURS has developed into a multi-city photographic project, his inspiration behind the concept was originally spontaneous and primarily rooted in showing Kohli’s personal experiences.
“This marks my fourth edition of the 100 HOURS series featuring individual cities, with LA, Chicago, Boston, and now NYC under my belt. The idea stemmed from a visit to LA I made in January 2017, a four-day trip during a school break. It was a really eclectic experience, compiling a ton of fun nights, events, and shoots,” Kohli says.
“I had the name 100 HOURS in my head for whatever reason, and had been shooting during the trip, with no real final product in mind. As I describe it, 100 HOURS stems from my narrative as a creative, centered around traveling to certain cities or events for merely 100 hours, resulting in very diverse visual documentation of my journeys, packing a number of different gigs, shows, events, etc. in a short time span. The product is filled with portraits of your favorite artists, but the whole concept is rooted in the juxtaposition of these celebrity sightings and the behind-the-scenes, personal diary photos showing my individual experiences.”
According to Kohli, the creative process behind the shooting of 100 HOURS is “entirely spontaneous.” Keeping his shoots off-the-cuff and instinctive “allows for the most pure experience.”
Now that Kohli has conquered four major cities with his project, he’s setting his sights high for the future iterations of 100 HOURS.
“I’m definitely planning on continuing, though I’m currently spinning it into a new variation of 100 HOURS. More on that later. The cities version of 100 HOURS will continue as a fun life diary,” Kohli says. “I’m interested in Toronto, Atlanta, and a couple others. No one [person] specifically for 100 HOURS, given the spontaneity, but definitely some folks I’d love to work with outside of the project.”
When it comes to finding creative inspiration, Kohli need not look far. He draws his creative inspiration from a wide range of artists and sources, from iconic musicians, popular influencers, and his friends.
“I’m inspired by Bon Iver. Frank Ocean. Brockhampton. Theo Wenner. Olivia Bee. Gambino. JJJJound. Virgil. ‘Internet kids’. My friends.”
Like many up-and-coming photographers, Kohli is tasked with the additional challenge of balancing his school life with his professional and creative life.
“I’ve done both at the same time for the past few years, so honestly it’s all I’ve really known,” Kohli says. “It’s tiring but rewarding and exciting. A good challenge.”
And for the rest of 2018, only time will tell what incredible projects Kohli will get up to.
“As I mentioned, I’m working on a variation of 100 HOURS that I’m really excited about. More work with artists I’ve already done projects with, and many new artists and brands. Chasing more goals and hopefully catching them. Drinking more water!”
Check out the full project here.
Images courtesy of Stefan Kohli
Stay tuned to Milk for more up-and-coming photographers to watch.