“I do not have a general artist statement. I just write statements for specific works, collections, or exhibitions.”
Håkan Strand (born 1959) is a Swedish photographer currently based in Stockholm, Sweden.
He’s represented by “Catherine Couturier Gallery” (Houston/Texas, USA), “Susan Spiritus Gallery” (Newport Beach/California, USA), “AD-Galeri” (Geneva, Switzerland), “ARTITLED” (Herpen, The Netherlands), “Xpose Galler” (Stockholm, Sweden), “ArtPhotoCollection” (Gothenburg, Sweden) and “The Photo Gallery” (Halmstad, Sweden).
Interview with Håkan Strand
Håkan, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
I have a lot of memorable moments from my photo trips. One of the best is from a photo trip to Death Valley in California ten years ago.
I had been driving all night through the desert of Nevada when I reached the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, located in the middle of Death Valley.
It was still dark. There are no cities in that area, so when it’s dark, it’s pitch dark. The sky was covered with billions of stars. I had never seen so many stars before, it was absolutely amazing.
Anyway, I parked the car on a dirt road and found my way to the dunes with the help of a flash light. When I reached one of the highest dunes, I sat down and just waited for the sun to rise above the horizon. It was a tranquil and peaceful moment.
When the sun rose, I began to photograph the sand dunes. There was an unbelievable interplay between light and shadow on the dune formations. This was one of the shooting moments I will never forget.
Why did you become a photographer?
“I have been working quite hard to fulfill my dream of being a professional fine art photographer.”
I first became interested in photography as a teenager when I chose the subject as an elective course in school, back in 1973. My interest in photography waxed and waned for many years.
But in 1991, when I lived in New York, I rediscovered photography and became truly hooked. I discovered many galleries for fine art photography and saw many wonderful exhibits. Since then I have been working quite hard to fulfill my dream of being a professional fine art photographer.
What does photography mean to you and what do you want to say with your pictures?
Photography is my passion, and also my profession. I prefer not to talk too much about my own photographs, or to, in any way, influence the person who’s viewing my work.
I would rather let the viewers fill in with their own thoughts and ideas. In addition to the more personal thoughts I have regarding my own work, I consider my images, generally speaking, to be a sort of break from daily life.
Maybe something meditative, something that invites you to stop and rest for a short while, like a poem or a piece of music. If another person can perceive my pictures in that perspective, it would make me very happy.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
The photographer that has inspired me the most is the Danish photographer Kirsten Klein. She has a special tone and mood in her photographs which appeals to me. Her dark room prints are among the best I have ever seen.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
I like to work slowly and methodically, and perhaps this way of working is reflected in the images.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
“A ‘unique voice’ is often just a variation or a development of something that someone already had done before.”
That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t think I’m the right person to answer that question. From my point of view, the world of photography is so huge and the variations on how one can approach photography is endless.
However, as an example, every musician knows that whatever you do in musical terms, it’s just a variation or a development of a few fundamental basic elements that music is built upon.
I think this is also applicable to photography. I have too often heard or read that this or that photographer has a “unique voice”. Well, if you are oriented in the history of photography, then you know that a “unique voice” is often just a variation or a development of something that someone already had done before.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
To create a certain mood, I use long exposure times and do most of my work in the fall and winter.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
I think there are many different answers to that question, depending on who you ask.
I can only speak for myself, but the most important things when it comes to being a good photographer are determination and passion for you work.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes? Especially keeping in mind the over abundance of photographic imagery in today’s society.
A great photo often has elements of universal appeal.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I am often inspired by other photographers. Also, sometimes when I watch TV or a movie, I see inspiring environments that give me ideas.
What kind of photography equipment (camera etc.) and photographic supplies do you use?
I use Hasselblad cameras and Kodak black & white film.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I don’t have a favorite.
What photography book would you recommend?
Two books that I like are Bill Schwab’s Gathering Calm and Kirsten Klein’s Between Light and Dark.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?
Work hard, but remember to have fun.