Adobe Creative Cloud

Wilhelm’s World

Adobe Stock contributor John Wilhelm’s world is that of dreams, magic and mystery. His portfolio is a treasure trove of hilarious scenarios dashed with sweet, touching poignancy. We took the opportunity to speak with him to find out more.

Can you give us a bit of background about yourself, where you’re from and what you do for a living?

My name is John Wilhelm. I’m 45 years old and live together with my girlfriend and our 3 little girls (Yuna 2, Mila 4, Lou 7) in Winterthur (a town approx. 25km from Zurich), Switzerland.

For a living I work as head of IT at the School of Teacher Education in Zurich.

Dreaming of the ocean

When did you start contributing for stock and what was the decision for selling your work?

Actually I started quite a while ago. I uploaded my work to other stock-platforms but I hated the whole process till one single image is ready for sale. So I didn’t do it consistently but only from time to time. A while ago I read about a photographer who’s selling his images via Fotolia/Adobe Stock with great success. Well, I thought, why don’t you give it a try there.

Finally there’s really a lot of work going into my images. So why not earn a few dollars with them. At least I should try it.

Just a seagull pulling my girls

How would you describe your personal style? Where do you find your inspiration?

I’d call my style aesthetically funny, although creating funny images was never my intention. I just try to realize the ideas popping up in my head all the time (and time is my problem, not a lack of ideas) and I don’t know why, but they’re usually funny. As far as I can remember I was always some kind of a joker and cannot be serious for a very long time. Guess my images show this side of my character pretty well (some of my images show also the other, more profound side of me which is almost equally as strong but not so obvious).

And I’m so sorry but I cannot explain how my ideas arise. They’re just there… suddenly. But of course I’m thinking all the time about future projects and about what could be created and I guess there’s some kind of background-process running in my head which is subliminally and continuously developing this thinking and sending me back the final ideas from time to time.

How to ride a snow rabbit

Can you tell us a little bit about the models that feature in many of your images? Are they your family?

Yes. In most of my images you see Lou, my oldest daughter. She’s really talented but it’s also great and fun to work with all the other girls.

I don’t have enough time to hire real models or travel around the world, that’s why I started to plant my girls and myself in my scenes a few years ago. Fortunately this compromise became my formula for success.


What are the emotions you intend to provoke to people looking at your images?

I’m happy if people can laugh or at least smile about my images or if an image touches the hearts (like “Into the Poppies”). And what I really love is if my images are inspiring people to get creative on their own.

Into the Poppies

Can you tell us a little about the process behind some of your images portraying animals in playful, fantasy scenes?

I often shoot in all kind of museum (only if allowed). Of course you can also find great animals at the zoo or in nature but the stuffed ones you can usually find in museum of nature are so wonderful calm in front of your lens. You can even shoot focus stacks (which is really impossible with living animals). Back at home I usually start working with the best shots and sometimes a specific idea what could be done with an animal or object follows days, weeks or month later (or never).

Just a very thirsty giraffe

What do you take into account when shooting images from a commercial perspective? Is important for you to follow any trends to increase sales?

I’m never shooting from a commercial perspective (so far). I know I could probably earn quite a few dollars more if I did. But photography is still my hobby. In first line I want to have fun while creating images and being creative. If it sells… great! If not… I don’t care.

While others are in the Lasagne...

What is your ‘go-to’ equipment?

A Sony a7r II, a Boblebee backpack, a Gitzo tripod with novoflex ball head, remote control, 5 spare batteries, rain coat and almost all Sony FE lenses.

Have you a favorite image? What can you tell us about it?

That’s definitely “Into the Poppies.” For three main reasons: First of all the image touches my own heart. I almost had to cry when I’d finished it. Secondly, it was (and still is) my most successful image (concerning views, likes, reposts etc.). And finally it was my first compositing I was really happy with. Of course I would change certain things today. The horizon-line of the poppies could be better, the hairs of the girl and a few other minor changes.

A big thanks to John for taking the time to speak with us. For more of his work, discover him on Facebook, his website and Adobe Stock portfolio.

Digital Imaging, Photography