“I love the whole process: Coming up with ideas, making sketches, planning, lighting.”
Bjørn Wad (born 1984 in Zurich, Switzerland) is a contemporary photographer currently based in Oslo, Norway.
He studied photography at “The Norwegian School of Photography”.
Bjørn Wad is specializing in portraits and fine art projects.
Interview with Bjørn Wad
Bjørn, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
There are so many great moments. But I guess it would be the months I spent at the retirement home “Tåsenhjemmet”, shooting rock n’ roll portraits of the elderly for an exhibition.
It was an in-depth project where I really got to know the subjects. This was in 2011.
Why did you become a photographer?
I grew up in an art loving family.
Exhibitions, art shows and museums – we got to see quite a lot through our childhood (I have a sister).
I was about 18 years old when my father taught me how to develop film in the dark room and make prints. From that point there was no way back.
What does photography mean to you and what do you want to say with your pictures?
I live and breathe photography – 24/7.
“I always try to put my soul in all projects.”
Just ask my family. My girl really has to endure a lot of photography talk. And my son – I don ́t know how many frames he has filled.
I love the whole process: Coming up with ideas, making sketches, planning, lighting.
Just creating something out of that thought you started out with. My personal projects tell a different story than the commercial ones, but I always try to put my soul in all projects.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
With no doubt, Anton Corbijn.
He has been a huge influence. His simplicity and way of framing, he just shoots like nobody else.
I was fortunate enough to meet him once when I was starting out in photography and he made a big impression. He had such a welcoming personality.
Your favorite photography quote?
Arnold Newman’s quote says it all:
“Photography is 1% talent and 99% moving furniture.”
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
Simple. Clean. Honest? At least this is what I aim for.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
Just shoot as much as you possibly can, and it will reveal itself over time.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically (color treatment, framing, lens use, etc.) and conceptually?
It’s hard to say. I like both the shoots where you have everything planned out in the smallest detail and the ones where you do all on in pure instinct, where its only you, the camera and the subject.
But I do tend to use a lot of black and white film, and I prefer this over digital.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
Down to earth personality. Not shy, maybe a bit pushy, and honest.
“I try to give the people in my life the credit they deserve.”
Make the subject have fun while shooting, laugh together.
Be prepared, have the technical stuff in the back of your mind, but don’t let it run you over.
Collaborate with great people, a good crew, assistants, set builders, retouchers and so on. I try to give the people in my life the credit they deserve, and I try to combine work and leisure in such a way that I don’t get burned out – but these last two are hard.
Some people tend to think that photography is a dance in the park, but you really have to live and work for it every day.
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.
It has to communicate with the viewer. Tell a story or give us a feeling. Make us laugh or cry. It has to be honest. Or as Capa said it:
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I spend a big amount of time in book stores, looking at different artists.
I also collect photography books. I look to old painters and artists.
I see a lot of films. I often discuss ideas with people around me. My parents, my girl, my mates – everyday life.
What kind of photography equipment (camera etc.) and photographic supplies do you use?
Leica cameras for the most part. But also Pentax, Hasselblad, Rollei and Canon.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
Just the websites of great photographers I admire. The world-wide web is a great source for inspiration.
What photography book would you recommend?
The upcoming sumo book of Annie Leibovitz by Taschen. An amazing piece of art! (If you can afford it).
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?
Never give up and never quit taking photos.
Be true to yourself. Be open and honest. There are no written rules. Find your own way.