The past 15 years have been one amazing journey for me. After 4 years of school and a few years assisting I found my voice and style as a photographer. I got embraced by the advertising community and embarked on 8 years of great adventures working nonstop in amazing locations around the world. In some ways I had more than enough just keeping up with myself and did all my work very intuitively with an innate desire to create images.
Through this I have matured as a photographer, starting to ask myself the more existential questions of being an image-maker.
-Why do I choose to photograph the things I do and what part of myself drives me towards these subject matters?
-How do I relate and respond to not only the subject but also the idea and concept of the image?
-What is my perspective and what do I want to say with the images I take?
I have found that answering these questions is not all that important as the answers will always change. What is more helpful to me is being aware of them and to ask them again and again as I make new pictures…
The past months has been a bit slower and it’s given me great time and opportunity to sit down and reflect on these questions, where I stand and what I have accomplished so far as a photographer.
I’m really proud of my work to date but I also feel I can improve and do better. Having the time to contemplate what can be improved upon have been a great thing and it leaves me feeling like I just have scratched the surface of what I can say with my pictures and what I hope to pull out of myself visually.
What I have found to be the essence of what I want to add and infuse into my images is a greater sense of curiosity.
Early on in my career I photographed a lot of older men. I truly feel that growing up without a dad and having that void in my life made me attracted to this subject matter. Looking back at the pictures I took then I see great emotion and honesty. There’s a personal way for me to relate to the men I photographed that truly shows in the images. The longing for a father figure is gone but I do want to open up this part of myself again. Not from a healing perspective but from a curiosity standpoint about whom the people I photograph truly are. An inquisitive interest in where they are from, what journey life have taken them on and the little things that have led them to our encounter.
So to improve my images further I want to be curious about my subjects and connect with them in a way that exposes something both about them and myself. To make it a collaboration and a true interaction and rather than me observing and capturing.
In crafting better pictures, I want to be curious and create curiosity. An invested interest on my part about the people and places I photograph that has a storytelling aspect that lingers…
My images today are beautiful observations and interpretations. By adding true emotion from the people I photograph I hope to further invite my subject into the images and make the pictures as much about them as myself.
To create curiosity I would like to make the moment of capture a part of the unseen moments taking place before and after. I want to add elements that keep the story more open ended, enticing the viewer to engage in the story, asking their own questions.
I have tried to incorporate this in my latest editorial and advertising work making the pictures both beautiful and storytelling at the same time.
And why am I putting this out there on my blog?
The answer is growth and self-awareness.
This blog will be my journal so that in some small way I can measure myself. A place for me to see if there’s progress made and in the true sense of community, provide a place for you to interact and perhaps capture your own moment of inspiration…
Being a photographer can be lonely at times and I often miss the group dynamics of class critiques at school. I invite you to see and critique my images as I create them (attempting to avoid the sometimes flattering and other times unfair judgment I put upon myself), hopefully receiving the honest perspective of my peers looking at my work with a degree of separation and fresh eyes.
Thank you so much for reading this and I would love to hear your thoughts going forward!
I have been a huge fan of your work since AAU introduced me to it! Your images are beautiful and inspiring! I hope to meet you one day!
That’s cool to read you speaking about your work and your life like that, and to see how things going on for you….
I stay tuned on your blog ! And hope to see more articles next time maybe with some behind the scene pics I love your image and your technic !!!
(sorry if I’ve made mistakes, french speaker)
What do you think Erik? Are you born a photographer or can you be taught to be one?
Though to be one for sure!
With true dedication to any craft comes an intuitiveness that seems innate…
Love your new blog, and your work. It’s all beautiful, as always.
Thank you Christopher!
Means a lot coming from someone like yourself!!
Love your work and just discover your blog.
What about a rss feed ? It would be great to follow your job
Great post, looking forward to new material. You’re work and dedication to furthering your craft is a great inspiration to me!
Thanks for the insight into how you approach your work. You ask yourself questions that I believe are essential to creating meaningful images and developing as a photographer. I believe that great images come from the relationship between photographer and subject. That relationship determines how much of each other is invested in the image.
I have recently been studying the potential narrativity of single still images. Critical theorists suggest that such a thing cannot exist but I do not agree with that. I see narratives in much of your work and it is an inspiration as I try to communicate stories and ideas through my own work too.
I look forward to reading more about your work.
Thanks for the input.
Just have to say that your Critical theorists are right; Theoretically one can argue that narrative can never exist in a moment. It’s a useless and flawed argument though as the brain will always relate impressions with past ones and quickly figure out possible effects on the feature.
So in the moment someone see an image that evokes interpretation a narrative is very likely to happen…
All this though is probably better solved on a more intellectual blog than mine or over a glass of vino.
My very best,
anyone with an imagination will but
Yes I agree that narrative cannot exist in a single still image. I maybe should have clarified that what Bence Nanay calls ‘narrativity’ can be present in a single still image which is exactly what you described. A narritive that is developed in the mind of the viewer given whatever visual signs/cue’s have been presented to them. It is also suggested that the resultant user generated narrative is dependant on their past experiences and cultural background. Took me a while to get round that idea but I think it resoves the argument pretty well. Thanks for your response!
Thank you, Erik, for sharing your journey. I just relocated from SF to NYC to attend a photo grad program at SVA. Your images and your candor are an inspiration to me!
It is both inspirational and reassuring to hear an awesome photographer speak the way you have here about learning more, developing different style and emotion in your images. As a photographer new to the professional world it is amazing to have people such as yourself around to read about their work and their stories whilst developing my own work. My wife and I have currently taken time out to travel New Zealand, to slow our pace down, to give time to developing our own sense of self and to bring that through in our work. It is an amazing time, I think more people should do it. I look forward to following you on your journey.
very great write-up, inspiring and engaging !! and i am amazed to see that after 15 years you are still fresh and are looking out to improve and discover new possibilities 🙂
Your work is truly inspiring and breathtakingly beautiful. i find myself getting lost in every image. I’m an aspiring photographer myself, just starting out in the business, not even done with school yet. Your images and outlook on photography are everything i want to be in a photographer/image maker. The way portray your images with such thoughtful detail pushes me in a way to make my own images better.
Fantastisk post dette her, Erik! Veldig inspirerende lesing, og jeg synes spørsmålene du stiller deg selv er noe alle fotografer bør stille seg for å få ens arbeid til å matche egen visjon. Dette er definitivt noe jeg jobber mye med selv for tiden.
Jeg flyttet nettopp fra Stavanger for å begynne på Brooks Institute i Santa Barbara, CA, og håper på å være på samme sti som den du har funnet. Dette er for meg definitivt en av de mer inspirerende bloggene jeg følger for tiden. Takk for at du deler dette!
Just listened to your 10 tip of becoming a commercial photographer … excellent and very well said.
That made go forward and looked at your shots … wow!
Amazing shots and feeling in those.
I will surely take your advise with me on my own journey.
Best wishes // Glenn
The Visual Toolbox by David duChemin brought me here. Thank you for sharing your story, your splendid body of work and inspirational behind-the-scenes videos. Please keep blogging!
Love your work and have to admit, very inspired by it
I’m so happy to have found your blog and DVD. You have such a calming prescence, can’t wait to watch your tutorials!