Interview: Photographer Stig Johansson (Sweden)
Interviews / Stories
Tell us something about yourself
I’m a 46 year old father of three, living in the southern parts of Sweden with a new big hobby since a couple of years, photography. When the kids was very young I didn’t find the time to explore new things as much that I liked. Now I find it really rewarding to combine my ordinary work with shooting everything I see.
How and when did you get into photography?
If we are talking about shooting people? Then I have only been doing this for a couple of years. Before that I did some landscape and street photography but manly I was building drones and made videos for my self.
One day I felt that my videos was the same over and over again, only landscape in some form. So I asked a model if she could walk at the beach and I would shoot her from the air. Fair enough she said, but she also needed som portraits for her portfolio. So the deal was that I agreed to shoot some beauty shoots at the end. To be honest, the images did not turn out that great and my retouch work was quite poor. But, it was so much fun so I just needed to do more, much more. Not that long after this session I stoped making videos, focusing only on shooting people.
What does photography mean to you?
For me it’s about trying to capture a feeling, an emotion. Even if you shoot a beautiful model, beautiful in every way, if you can’t feel it, see something in their eyes, it not a photograph to me. This is hard, often I come home with a great set of images, the lighting is great, the poses are fantastic, the model is so beautiful. But still, something is missing, and that is to be able to feel something when you look at the image. You, as a viewer, becomes a reflection of what you are viewing and those emotions are what is all about.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Beside all the fantastic photographers that are posting they work on different social channels I tend to go to old black and white images by some of the big ones, like David Bailey, a fantastic photographer. Also to look at old movies to see how the real masters work with light is a big inspiration.
Beside that, I often get inspired in the moment, inspired by the collaboration between me and the model. That is probably the most important inspiration for me, to get to know a new person and try to capture the real them in a frame.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
Once another photographer told me that she liked my style and I remember that I got upset with her, I don’t want to have a style. I want to experiment, try new stuff and learn new things every day. My wife said one day that when she scrolled through a flow of images she could’t spot mine, it’s something that make them stand out against all the the other mages in the flow. It’s not that mine are better, far away, it’s just that I have some style of mine, I guess.
If I try to describe it, maybe it’s often about the eyes, trying to capturing the emotions. I often shoot my models close up, in natural light and I love the simple compositions. I scale away all distractions from the eyes, I don’t want a big beautiful dress or a crazy hair style to take away from being able to feel the image and that feeling, for me, comes through the eyes.
Now I shoot more and more analog film and together with as little retouch as possible and natural light, I guess I trying to capture the real beauty out there as I saw it when I took the image.
Think you in advance what you want in the picture?
No, not really. I tried for a while to plan stuff. To decide on a theme, add a makeup artist and so on. This can be fun but it’s not something I want to do that often. I like to just have a ruff idea about the shoot and then I try to get the model to let us in, let us be inspired, to feel. I can shoot model after model, in the same window with more or less the same pose and still not a single image are the same.
Studio, on location or both?
I do both, but I prefer location work and natural light. Most of my work is done on location but some just need to be done in a studio, were you have total control over the light for example.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
I am by all standards a hobbyist but I think that some of my images can stand up just fine in a professional competition.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
I can’t really pick one. The fist one is of course special but if I have to choose one I think it’s a session with a model with a story. I shoot a model that had felt that she was a girl from the age of 7, but trapped in the body of a boy. Her story, born in a land that certain behavior can result in death by the law, the journey to Sweden and the struggle to get her real identity on paper. That story is probably the most memorable thing in any of my sessions.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
This is a hard question. I think it is a big mix of everything a have with me into the next session. Of course, the person of the other side of the lens is the most important inspiration at the moment when the picture is taken.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
I shoot Nikon and my favorite lens are my Nikkor 105 f/2 DC, just love that lens!
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
Just do it! Follow your dreams and don’t let other peoples fears get in your way.
What do you think of our new magazine?
Great! It’s a great way for photographers of the world to be able you reach out to more people.